Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may have just scripted an effective strategy in bringing on Jesse Lingard against West Ham United.
This gameweek was one of mixed feelings for the English forward who began on a high note after contributing to the 4-1 goalfest against Newcastle United last Saturday.
However, the 2-1 loss to Young Boys in the Champions League during midweek was one that dampened spirits all around.
In particular, Lingard bore the brunt of the blame as it was his ill-fated back pass that led to Theoson Jordan Siebatcheu’s late goal. The social media blame-game, in particular, was vicious.
However, Solskjaer arguably set out on damage control even prior to the first kick of the ball.
During his pre-game press conference, the Norwegian gaffer unequivocally stated that the club were in contact with Lingard over a potential contract renewal and that he saw the player’s future at United.
His words were one of complete support, as he stated: “He showed his qualities, he’s back into the England squad, scoring goals. We really want to see the best of Jesse this season, we support him and we hope to keep him here with us, he’s a red through and through.”
Following this, bringing Lingard on at the crucial juncture when United needed a goal was another masterstroke from the gaffer. The decision was unlikely to have been an easy one to make, given that players tend to be prone to repeated errors and the likelihood of a second late defeat was still on the cards at the time of the substitution.
However, Lingard came on and with great class scored the decisive winner. He even managed to earn the respect of the West Ham faithful who were gaga over him, choosing not to celebrate the goal.
A lot is said about Solskjaer’s tactics, but even such nuanced moves spell volumes of his class at the helm of Manchester United.