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Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can be proud with the statistics his players are putting in after working hard on their fitnesses during pre-season.
The legendary Norwegian has plenty to prove this season after a story of two halves during his reign in the last campaign.
Solskjaer’s era began superbly as his United stars embarked on a winning run and seemingly couldn’t do anything wrong.
However, matters soon took a turn for the worse with many attributing the baffling dip in form to a lack of fitness.
Reports soon emerged claiming Ole was shocked at his squad’s poor fitness with him recently publicly stating his desire to put them through their paces and it appears that’s now starting to pay off.
According to the Daily Mail, the Red Devils’ stars have seen their high-intensity work increase by 50 per cent in comparison to when Jose Mourinho was in charge.
The total distance they’ve covered is also up 10 per cent while they’re trying to ensure they remain fit by taking part in gym sessions and injury prevention exercises that involve the hamstrings, groin and core.
Manchester United have won all three of their pre-season fixtures so far and it seems Solskjaer has taken this approach in his bid to overthrow his rivals in the upcoming campaign.
Manchester United have reportedly made progress in their pursuit for Lille star Nicolas Pepe who will certainly add firepower to their side.
Although Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has spent the past week complimenting his striker force including the likes of Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood, Anthony Martial and even Alexis Sanchez, it appears he’s still keen to add another to the squad.
United signed Daniel James from Swansea earlier on in the summer but perhaps the lethal Norwegian is searching for a more proven player.
Pepe was outstanding in Lille’s charge to a second placed finish last season with his performances gaining interest from several top European clubs.
The Ivorian’s manager has previously claimed he would certainly be moved on this season due to his desire to leave yet no one has seemingly made a serious move, until now.
According to The Times, the Red Devils will use the sale of Romelu Lukaku to fund their pursuit of £70m valued Nicolas, though they will have to fight off the likes of Liverpool, Arsenal and Everton for his signature.
The obvious issue is that offloading the Belgian has proved trickier than initially anticipated with Inter Milan struggling to pay up for the fee Solskjaer’s side wants.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has claimed that the knock sustained by Tahith Chong during Manchester United’s 1-0 win over Inter Milan was nothing serious.
Chong, who came on for the last 30 minutes, gave a dazzling performance down the right-hand side during which he embarrassed Milan Skriniar – who has played in a World Cup final – to the point where the defender hacked him to the floor in quite dramatic fashion.
Victor Lindelof, meanwhile, came off earlier in the game and went straight down the tunnel.
Solskjaer told reporters in the aftermath that, while Chong was definitely okay, he would have to wait for Lindelof to be assessed before he knew the extent of the Swede’s injury.
Ole: “Victor we have to assess tomorrow. Tahith will be fine, it was just a knock. I don’t blame the defenders for trying to stop him.” #mufc [MUTV]
Saturday’s victory in Singapore was the first time in pre-season that Solskjaer gave priority to certain players, allowing for the starting XI to play 60 minutes rather than just 45. You hope that Lindelof’s knock is merely just a consequence of the extra workload as opposed to anything more deeply rooted.
Alongside the imperious Axel Tuanzebe, Lindelof was as cool as ever before being forced off. Many United fans would want that pair to serve as Solskjaer’s first-choice centre back pairings – unless, of course, the club manages to sign Harry Maguire.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka treated Manchester United supporters to another superb defensive performance during the club’s 1-0 pre-season win over Inter Milan in Singapore.
The 21-year-old, signed from Crystal Palace for £45m last month, gave a display of pure defensive grit and also linked up nicely with Paul Pogba, who will clearly benefit from having him there for diagonal balls out wide next season.
His most notable asset, which evinced great cries of appreciation from the 55,000 United fans in the ground, was, of course, those tackles: time and time again, he was there, sticking a leg in to steal the ball away from winger Dalbert.
Wan-Bissaka’s numbers from the game paint the picture of what was a truly dominant performance in the sweltering Asian heat.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s first half vs. Inter Milan by numbers:
100% tackles won 90% pass accuracy 1 chance created 1 interception 0 goals conceded
It is not often that thousands of Singaporeans chant the name of a right-back from Croydon – especially when the likes of Paul Pogba and David de Gea on the pitch.
But such is the storming influence of Wan-Bissaka. In these early days, when fitness levels are not so great, it is the 21-year-old whose imperturbable strength and superhuman elasticity that has stood out. There is a feeling of something new, something better, developing here. It’s almost like we’re watching a proper right-back.
Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has singled out Axel Tuanzebe for praise following the 1-0 win over Inter Milan.
The legendary Norwegian watched on as his side ensured their winning run continues in their third pre-season fixture so far.
United’s opposition was a step up from their previous friendlies against Leeds United and Perth Glory but their domination continued.
Inter were lucky to have not lost by more while the likes of Tuanzebe ensured they wouldn’t have any luck scoring either.
The powerful Englishman enjoyed a successful loan spell at Aston Villa last season and it appears Solskjaer is keen on keeping him on board this time around.
Solskjær: "He's [Tuanzebe] got a future at #mufc, of course he has. Today was a test for him, we know he can play at that level, that's why he didn't pay against Leeds. Axel is the future of this club." #mulive
David de Gea N/A – Had nothing to do against an impotent Inter Milan side playing its first game of pre-season.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka 7 – Once again sensational. So solid positionally, and simply impossible to get past. Produced a series of perfectly timed tackles.
Victor Lindelof 6 – Another smooth, solid display. Looked uncomfortable with a couple of crosses but was largely in control, even producing another marauding run into midfield. Came off with an injury.
Axel Tuanzebe 6 – Made a couple of rash interventions early on but grew nicely into the game, handling the ball with good maturity.
Luke Shaw 7 – A very good return from a slight injury. Defended smartly and bombed down that left-hand side, almost teeing up a tap-in for Marcus Rashford in the first-half.
Nemanja Matic 5 – Too sluggish again. Did not pass the ball forward enough and found himself caught in possession a few times.
Paul Pogba 7 – The Frenchman is so crucial to this Ole Gunnar Solskjaer set-up. Nobody else passes forward so incisively and with such ambition. Released a number of counter-attacks with one swish of the foot.
Jesse Lingard6 – An improvement on his display against Leeds United. Bombed forward down the middle with ferocity, looking to slide the ball to onrushing teammates. Ran out of team in the second-half.
Daniel James 5 – Did not really make an impact on the game aside from occasionally linking up nicely on the right with Wan-Bissaka and Paul Pogba. Looks more comfortable on the left.
Anthony Martial 6.5 – Looked slightly lost in the No.9 role to start with, often surrounded by Inter Milan defenders, but was the only one to display serious attacking intent after the break.
Marcus Rashford 5 – Does not look comfortable out wide. Attacked with intent but always seemed slightly awkward cutting in from the flank. Decision-making in the box was not up to scratch.
Tahith Chong 7 – Came on and brought with him spellbinding energy, tearing down the flanks and almost claiming an assist.
Mason Greenwood7 – In an otherwise drab second half, Greenwood once again shone. Scored a superb curling effort in a crowded box to break the deadlock and nearly scored another moments later. Such a natural finisher with either foot.
Ashley Young6 – The veteran was booed when he came on, and also whenever he touches the ball, but his performance was actually not too bad, with the Englishman sending in a few dangerous crosses.
Diogo Dalot 6 – Enjoyed quite a few touches on the ball out on the right. Did not have much defending to do.
Fred 6.5 – A promising return to action. Looked very sharp on the ball considering this was his first outing of pre-season.
Andreas Pereira6 – Good energy to his play but lacked the finesse to create chances in the final third.
The good thing is that both Solskjaer and his players have a clear idea of the attacking blueprint being fleshed out on the training ground by Mike Phelan, Kieran McKenna and Michael Carrick. This was not the case during that miserable pre-season tour of last year under Jose Mourinho, who genuinely seemed so angry to the point of not caring about tactics at that stage.
Under Solskjaer, the demands are clear, which should make selecting players clear – ones who fit the principles of Ole-ball: a fluid 4-2-3-1, full-backs providing width, high pressing and fast counter-attacking play down the middle with Paul Pogba as the final difference, midfielders like Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard joining attackers in the box.
In this sense, Solskjaer has to be ruthless. Those who he believes in must receive a large majority of the minutes on offer ahead of Chelsea on August 11.