A name Man Utd fans might not expect has been hailed by assistant manager Mike Phelan for the “mind-blowing” work he’s putting in behind the scenes.
Perhaps for the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, Man Utd finally appear to be heading in the right direction. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has brought hope and stability in equal measure, while Jadon Sancho’s imminent arrival has set the fans’ pulses racing – despite a poignant warning from former boss Jose Mourinho
The Red Devils are yet to lift major silverware under Solskjaer. Though if last season is anything to go by, it’ll only be a matter of time.
Squad depth appears stronger than ever since the Ferguson years. A prime example showcasing that comes in the form of ex-England internationals Phil Jones and Chris Smalling.
The pair have rarely featured over the last two years amid injury woes and loan spells. In Jones’ case, he has not played a first-team fixture since January 2020 against Tranmere in the FA Cup.
Nevertheless, Jones remains as committed to the cause as ever and assistant manager Phelan revealed it is the 29-year-old who is leading the charge behind the scenes.
“They all go in the gym now, it’s part of their training programme. Some love it, some hate it,” Phelan told Sensible Soccer.
“But I think in the gym, right now, the people in the gym the most are usually the injured ones.
“That is a real thing they have to do in order to recover. For us right now, credit to him as well, Phil Jones has been in that recovery phase quite a lot.
“He’s worked extremely hard and it’s mind-blowing at times because you’re doing it on your own, so credit to him. Phil Jones has been terrific in the gym.”
Varane transfer could spawn formation change
Meanwhile, Solskjaer hopes Raphael Varane can play his part in a more attacking formation next season, according to a report.
The Red Devils have progressed following the arrival of attacking midfielder Bruno Fernandes. Often starting attacks in a 4-2-3-1 formation, the Portugal international has had a stellar impact.
Still, the partnership of Fred and Scott McTominay further back in midfield has formed the defensive bedrock. The pair have even earned the nickname ‘McFred’ among fans.
According to ESPN, though, the pair will be at risk because Solskjaer plans to adopt an attacking 4-3-3 formation from next season.
Moving to a more attacking formation and losing potentially both Fred and McTominay would, as it stands, leave the Red Devils vulnerable.
However, Solskjaer feels confident that Real Madrid defender Varane would plug the gap alongside Harry Maguire. Reports on Friday indicated that United expect to announce his £50million signing by the end of next week.