Solskjaer’s New Contract: Rating His 10 Signings At Manchester United
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has signed a new contract which ties him to Manchester United until 2024, with the option of a further year.
Ed Woodward, the club’s executive vice-chairman, didn’t let the absence of silverware during the Norwegian’s reign cloud his judgement. Rather he has placed his trust in the team the 1999 Treble winner is building, perhaps akin to the one from his playing days under Sir Alex Ferguson.
Slow but steady, Ole’s Reds are taking shape, with most of his major signings brought in with a focus on a long-term project.
He needs to be supported with more top class additions to lay down a team capable of going toe to toe against Man City and Liverpool, not just for one season, but for the better part of the new decade.
However, to get the continued backing from the club, it’s important that the 10 players signed before the current window by the United boss vindicate his transfer decisions.
Daniel James 7/10
The first transfer investment made under Solskjaer. James’ place in the Starting XI has been uncertain since day one, but he has been a useful squad player, especially because of his blistering pace and defensive work-rate.
For £15m, he was always going to be a risk free signing, and even if United now decide to sell him due to abundance of options on the flanks they’d make a profit on him.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka 6/10
Unlike the Welsh forward Solskjaer’s second signing wasn’t bought for cheap. The former Crystal Palace right-back became the most-expensive English full-back following his transfer to United.
The 23-year-old has been one of the best defensive full-backs in the league, but his lack of attacking prowess has led to the club going back to market for a new right-back. However, he has age on his side, and might improve with right competition.
Harry Maguire 8/10
With a tag of being most expensive defender in history, his performances and mistakes, especially, were always going to be looked at differently.
However, the United captain has been a reliable presence in the side’s backline. His consistency over the two years, both in terms of his availability and and what he offers on the pitch, has led to fans talking about his price-tag less on fewer occasions everyday.
Maguire’s showings for England in the Euros, where he wasn’t naturally judged as some record signing, resulted in many changing their opinion, and recognising him as a world-class centre-back. The gaffer obviously saw him as one from the beginning.
Bruno Fernandes 9/10
The best signing made by the Norwegian tactician to date, or perhaps in the post-Sir Alex era.
The first six months of his maiden season as the permanent manager saw his team struggle for creativity. The mid-season arrival of the Portuguese star from Sporting Lisbon addressed that and then some.
During the 2020/21 campaign, Fernandes created most chances across a top-five European league, Champions League, and Europa League.
Odion Ighalo 6.5/10
Not the most exciting arrival at Old Trafford in the recent years, but did the job he was brought on to do from Shanghai Greenland Shenhua.
The United fan lived his boyhood dream, covered for Anthony Martial in cup competitions, impressed enough to convince the club to extend his loan, and left after his services were no longer needed following Edinson Cavani’s arrival.
Donny van de Beek 6/10
The Ajax academy product was seen as an opportunistic signing last summer. Champions League proven player available for around £35m, and versatile enough to be a backup for both Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba.
However, due to Fernandes and Pogba’s excellent form and the unfortunate timing of his injury, the Dutchman never managed to get stretch of games to prove his worth.
But with the Frenchman expected to leave, there’s opportunity for Van de Beek to become a more important part of Solskjaer’s squad.
Facundo Pellistri 7/10
Similar to James transfer, a low fee invested on Pellistri’s potential means United are going to be winners one way or another.
He did well during his La Liga loan spell with Alaves, and with a goal and an assist in pre-season so far, the Uruguayan is bound to attract more suitors for another temporary move.
Alex Telles 6.5/10
The former FC Porto captain has struggled to have the same status and importance at Old Trafford, with game-time limited to cup competitions.
However, he’s often credited with bringing the best out of Luke Shaw by providing fierce competition for the left-back position.
Edinson Cavani 8/10
Zlatan Ibrahimovic 2.0. Cavani followed in the footsteps of his former teammate by swapping Paris for Manchester. Like Ibrahimovic, he didn’t let his age affect his commitment and productivity.
The Europa League final goal-scorer ended the campaign as one of the club’s most important players, and was deservedly awarded with a new contract. He has retained the No. 7 shirt for another season, and will certainly hope to retain the first-choice striker role as well.
Amad Diallo 7/10
The Red Devils committed £37m for Atalanta’s academy talent, convinced by his potential despite just 76 minutes of first team football. Although big part of that fee is covered by add-ons based on certain clauses, which if met will naturally mean Amad will have been a success at Old Trafford.
The Ivory Coast international has excited fans with cameo appearances, but he’s one for the future.
It is fair to say Solskjaer has had more hits than misses in the transfer market until now.
This summer, he has already signed Tom Heaton and Jadon Sancho, while the Red Devils also remain in talks to sign Raphael Varane.
The success of these signings, alongside the players already at his disposal, will determine the fortune of the United legend. If things don’t go as per plan, he might not be at Old Trafford to make the transfer decisions next season.