Ole Gunnar Solskjaer revealed that Alexis Sanchez will play a bigger role than expected this season amid talk of a move away from Manchester United.
Sanchez’s future is up in the air at the moment, having been linked with a move to Serie A. However, Solskjaer insists that the Chilean forward still has a big part to play for United this season.
“Alexis is such a professional and he comes in working every single day really hard and wants to be a part of this,” he said. “It’s these stories he’s been put in the reserves, of course he hasn’t, he’s had three weeks now, he’s a few weeks behind the rest but close to being ready.
“We don’t have the biggest forward line in numbers so Alexis might end up playing a lot more games than you expect, we expect him to come good at this club, he’s quality.”
Likewise, summer 2018 signing Fred struggled to settle in his first season in the United midfield, but Solskjaer believes the £52m man is set for better things this time around.
“Your team will always play better if settled and [you] have a good foundation and not conceding goals. And good teams I played in, we always had a strong base, a keeper, settled backline and we hope to provide that for our attackers and midfielders. And we believe Fred is going to have a big season as well.”
United will be looking to continue their positive start to the season when they take on Wolves on Monday night, but Solskjaer admitted his side are still a work in progress.
In addition, Solskjaer is aware that Wolves, buoyant after their Europa League win over Pyunik to set up a play-off with Torino, will be no easy opponent.
“You always go into any game positive with the right intention thinking you’re going to win again, and the last two visits there I feel like I’m going home, been there so often lately!” laughed the United boss. “They were tough games and Wolves are a hard team to break down, defend deep, don’t give you a lot of spaces, they can counter attack, set pieces always dangerous.
“We’ve been looking at the games last season to see if there’s anything different to do this time but our form, our attitude and yeah the mood after the win is great so we go into the game confident.
“It’s a big period still for us, more or less pre-season, we’ve got a couple more weeks after this we can put loads of work on the training ground and after international break I think it is too busy. Great week training, the mood has been good and it’s been competitive, there were some players not involved and want to prove a point.
“There is a big shift in different from the teams, Chelsea outran us quite a lot in April, now we’ve outran them, so that’s a good shift for us but it’s not just about fitness, fitness is important but a young team expect loads of energy but we also have quality.
“We’ve had a good pre-season, fitness is better, we’ve got a young team that will give us energy and then toward end of last season we were mentally tired, now mentally fresh, I’m looking forward to the first hurdle, the resilience, robustness, bouncing back when the going gets tough and I’m sure it will be on Monday. Wolves will give us a hard challenge, just as much a mental test. We’re in a good place at the moment and when you hit the first hurdle and obstacle you want to see the leaders, anyone can play well when you’re winning 3-0 or 4-0.”
Solskjaer was keen to praise the impact of new signing Harry Maguire, who joined from Leicester for a world record fee for a defender, and helped contribute to keeping a clean sheet on his debut.
“He’s very level headed, just as composed off the pitch as on it, experienced, a big presence around the place, smiling, a personality you like to have around and cool head at the back is important. Defenders [who are] level headed and not emotionally affected is great for a manager and the team, he’s been very good to have around.”
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