Harry Maguire and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Solskjaer outlines his plan for the United defence

Thursday 15 August 2019 12:45

Words like ‘consistent’ and ‘settled’ aren’t very popular in modern football, where hyperbole is all too common, but those traits are exactly what Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants from his Manchester United defence this season.

The manager is acutely aware that the club’s backline has rarely been repeated from one game to the next in recent campaigns, mainly due to a series of unfortunate injuries that have troubled players in all positions. 

That enforced inconsistency partly contributed to the team only keeping seven Premier League clean sheets last term and only two of those were registered in front of our fans at Old Trafford. 

Ole hopes all of that will change during a 2019/20 season which began with a 4-0 home win over Chelsea and an exciting team performance that was built on the foundation of a strong defence.
The visitors had chances to score, of course, and David De Gea made seven saves in total, which was the most of any Premier League goalkeeper that weekend, yet our Spanish goalkeeper handled them all comfortably and he looked back to his confident and imperious best. 

Aaron Wan-Bissaka was sensational throughout his official United debut at right-back and got the crowd going with four tackles that he executed perfectly, while his fellow summer signing Harry Maguire exuded confidence at centre-back and notably registered four interceptions of the ball. 

Victor Lindelof had a much-improved season in 2018/19 and he picked up where he left off, displaying his natural composure and showing signs he could form a partnership with Maguire. 

Luke Shaw was also typically industrious at left-back and he’s determined to remain consistent, after making 40 appearances in all competitions last season - which was double his previous best of 20.
Solskjaer is yet to state that Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Lindelof and Shaw will be his first-choice defence and he is unlikely to do so, with plenty of other defenders vying for places this campaign. Yet the manager suggested to us in his pre-match interview last weekend that a consistent back four is one of his desires. 

“Any successful team will have to build from the back and have a foundation to play from,” Solskjaer explained to us at the Aon Training Complex. “We always say ‘you have to earn the right to win a game of football’. You earn it by defending well, you have a foundation and hopefully a settled team. 

“Hopefully, we won’t have to make too many changes. Over the last few years, I’ve always had the feeling there’s been so many players with bad luck concerning injuries. Both Jose [Mourinho] and Louis [van Gaal], maybe even David [Moyes], had to chop and change the back four, especially the centre-backs. Hopefully we can get a settled line-up.”
Player Cam: Maguire v Chelsea Video

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With Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Chris Smalling and Axel Tuanzebe all competing for the centre-back roles, plus Diogo Dalot, Matteo Darmian and Ashley Young at full-back, Ole has plenty of options beyond the four defenders who faced Chelsea. 

“I like that because the challenge is there now,” said club legend Wes Brown, earlier this week. “You want to be playing. The other players will be happy that we got the result, but it is a challenge to step up and there will be opportunities this season to get games and show what they can do.”

Solskjaer will discuss his plans for Wolves away during his pre-match press conference, which you can watch live in your Official App from 10:00 BST on Friday.

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