Manchester United face Young Boys in the Champions League, however, with Solskjaer suggesting he may have to manage Ronaldo’s minutes, there could be an opportunity for United’s other stars.
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said he will be managing the minutes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Mason Greenwood over the course of the season, but that doesn’t mean he won’t get a run-out against Young Boys in the Champions League this week.
Ronaldo scored a brace on his Old Trafford return as a Red Devil, reacting quickly to poke home a rebound, before drilling a low shot past Newcastle United keeper Freddy Woodman’s leg.
However, soon after United’s 4-1 victory over the Magpies, Solskjaer said he will look to manage the Portuguese’s minutes, as well as those of Mason Greenwood.
“It’s not impossible to leave him out,” Solskjaer said to ESPN soon after the victory against the Magpies.
“He is 36. Mason [Greenwood] is 19 so it’s the same, I have to manage his minutes and I have to manage a 36-year-old’s minutes as well.
“The other thing with Cristiano is that he looks after himself so much so I know he will recover quickly. Of course, it’s important that we get everyone up and running and to get him up and running.”
Daily Mirror Sport looks at four ways United could line up against Young Boys in the Champions League on Tuesday night.
Option one: Greenwood up top
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With Fred not playing at all over the weekend, it is safe to assume the midfielder will be starting for United in Switzerland.
The Reds may be the overwhelming favourites in this match, but Solskjaer has found himself on the wrong end of Champions League shocks before.
They will provide a layer of protection which could see Raphael Varane swapped for Victor Lindelof for rotation purposes.
Mata’s experience, freshness, leadership, and creativity could be vital, while Solskjaer will also want Jadon Sancho to open his United account for the season.
Paul Pogba has also caused havoc when operating on the left-hand side, and he will be looking to find Sancho with his cross-field passes.
Option one: (4-2-3-1) De Gea, Wan-Bisaaka, Maguire, Lindelof, Telles, Matic, Fred, Sancho, Mata, Pogba, Greenwood
Line-up two: Lingard to start
The likes of Diogo Dalot and Eric Bailly could be introduced for England pair Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire.
Jesse Lingard’s confidence is high after finding the net for England and United in his last two games, and he could be unleashed in the creative hole against Young Boys.
Antony Martial also needs to generate some momentum and with Sancho, and Pogba, raining down fire from the flanks, he has a splendid opportunity to get on the scoresheet.
Solskjaer will almost certainly have an eye on the trip to West Ham on the following weekend; therefore, he will be rotating some key players while also promoting the attackers in form and with a point to prove.
Option two: (4-2-3-1) De Gea, Dalot, Bailly, Varane, Shaw, Matic, Fred, Sancho, Lingard, Pogba, Martial
Option three: Ronaldo leading the line
On second thoughts, Solskjaer could have one word bouncing around his head while he prepares for this fixture – Istanbul.
No, he will not be thinking of the coming Champions League final which will be held in Istanbul, nor will he be thinking about Liverpool ’s comeback against AC Milan in 2005.
Istanbul Basaksehir stunned the Red Devils in Turkey last year, capitalising on some dreadful defending to secure a shock 2-1 win.
United were soon knocked out of the group stages and it is believed the defeat at the Basaksehir Faith Terim Stadium was the turning point.
With this in mind, Solskjaer could decide to take no risks and play one of his strongest possible sides including Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes, and Pogba.
(4-2-3-1) De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Varane, Shaw, Matic, Fred, Sancho, Bruno, Pogba, Ronaldo
Option four: Van de Beek to return
The additions of Ronaldo, Varane and Sancho have significantly beefed up United’s squad, and Solskjaer could trust his second string team to bring home the points.
This would see the likes of Donny van de Beek, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata and Diogo Dalot all given their first starts.
Considering Lindelof and Bailly were Jose Mourinho’s first choice defensive partnership, it is still a very good team.
Solskjaer still has the likes of Greenwood, Bruno, Pogba, and of course, Ronaldo to unleash from the bench if the game is not going United’s way.
The Norwegian will be hoping to keep the big guns warm in the cold of Switzerland.
(4-2-3-1) De Gea, Dalot, Lindelof, Bailly, Shaw, Matic, Fred, Mata, van de Beek, Lingard, Martial