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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first XI as Man Utd manager and where they are now

It’s nearly three years since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was appointed Manchester United manager on an interim basis, taking over from Jose Mourinho.

The Norwegian’s time at the club hasn’t exactly gone to plan, failing to win a single honour at a club that demands and expects success.

United’s embarrassing 5-0 home defeat to Liverpool last weekend has left Solskjaer clinging on to his job ahead of a crucial game against Tottenham on Saturday.

And a repeat of his first game in charge against former club Cardiff in December 2018 will do the under pressure manager nicely.

United hammered the Welsh side 5-1 on that fateful day and went on to enjoy a sensational run to earn Solskjaer a permanent deal at Old Trafford.

Here, Mirror Football takes a look at Solskjaer’s first United XI and what those players have achieved since.

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is facing the sack at Old Trafford


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David de Gea

De Gea is still at United and is one of the few players impressing for Solskjaer at this moment in time.

The Spanish goalkeeper endured a nightmare few months earlier this year, failing to save a single penalty in the team’s Europa League final shootout defeat to Villarreal.

He also lost his international spot to Unai Simon but is back to his best and just in time, with United’s defence all over the place.

Solskjaer said in September: “He did call me in the summer to end his summer holiday earlier and come back and start his pre-season before.

“Because he wanted to be ready, he wanted to be the best possible version of himself.”

Ashley Young

Young was allowed to leave United for Inter Milan 13 months after Solskjaer’s arrival – and what a move it turned out to be.

The 39-cap England international played in the 2020 Europa League final and won Serie A the following season.

Speaking in May, Young said: “It’s obviously nice to win the Premier League and then to go to a new league and win that as well is just incredible, an unbelievable feeling.

“Going out there and making that decision, I think it was the best one I made.”

Young returned to England in June to start a second spell at Aston Villa. He told reporters: “It feels amazing to be back, it feels like I’ve not left.”

Victor Lindelof

Lindelof has established himself as a regular at Old Trafford, making 117 Premier League appearances since joining the club in the summer of 2017.

The Swedish defender was recently appointed captain of his national team but is yet to convince United fans he’s the real deal.

Speaking in February, Red Devils legend Paul Scholes said: “I still have question marks against Lindelof. I always will.

“I don’t think he’s quick enough to play alongside [Harry] Maguire, I don’t think he’s aggressive enough.”

Phil Jones

Phil Jones hasn’t played a competitive football match in nearly two years


AFP/Getty Images)

Jones is still at United but hasn’t played a senior game since January 2020 due to a long-term knee problem, although he is nearing a return to fitness.

Speaking about the injury in September, the defender said: “I’ve been through hell and back over the last couple of years.

“I struggled with my knee… I think as a footballer, as a person, as a human being, that’s the lowest I probably ever felt in my life.

“You try and get a balance between football and family life but it was so difficult going home and trying to look after the kids.

“You’re there, but you’re not there, you’re not present. It’s nice to get that balance back.”

Luke Shaw

Shaw has arguably been one of Solskjaer’s biggest achievements at Old Trafford, transforming him from an injury-prone defender to the best left-back in the country.

The defender played 47 times for United last term and helped England reach the final of Euro 2020, scoring the opening goal in the match.

Speaking about Shaw’s comeback, former Premier League midfielder Jamie O’Hara said: “He’s been outstanding and he’s stayed fit.

“But his performances, you’ve got to have a look at it and go, ‘At the moment and based on form, he’s one of the best left-backs in the world.'”

Ander Herrera

Ander Herrera left Man Utd for Paris Saint-Germain in 2019


AFP/Getty Images)

United have missed Herrera since he left the club at the end of the 2018-19 campaign, joining Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer.

He’s since gone on to win Ligue 1, two French Cups, the French League Cup and played in a Champions League final.

Speaking about his United departure in October 2020, Herrera said: “I want to make sure everyone understands there is nothing personal at all. That’s life.

“But it’s true – after the third season when I was player of the year, when I had the respect and the love from the fans, I didn’t feel that love from the club.”

Nemanja Matic

Matic has fallen down the pecking order since Solskjaer became United boss, starting just 15 Premier League games since the beginning of the 2020-21 season.

And Red Devils midfielder Paul Ince has urged Solskjaer to play Matic more. He said: “I think when you play in midfield, you can play how you want to play.

“You can play three as an umbrella, you can play one with two sitting, two with one sitting – there’s plenty of ways you can do it.

“As long as the person who’s sitting knows how to play that role… and the only one who knows how to play that role is Matic.”

Paul Pogba

Paul Pogba’s time at Old Trafford appears to becoming towards an end


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Pogba’s time at United hasn’t gone to plan and he looks set to leave the club on a free transfer at the end of the season, according to reports.

Solskjaer has failed to get the best out of the midfielder since his arrival, starting just 41 Premier League games since the start of the 2019-20 campaign.

There were even rumours of a bust-up between Pogba and his manager after the recent defeat to Liverpool, although the former has denied these.

Scholes recently said: “He’s [Pogba] caused mayhem over the last couple of years.

“Everyone knows what a talent he is, everybody trusts him, every manager trusts him, tried to give him his head and let him be the player he’s been.

“But with all the commotion, not signing his contract, almost holding the club to ransom.”

Jesse Lingard

Lingard hasn’t flourished under Solskjaer, not starting a Premier League game for United since the 2019-20 campaign.

The winger’s best form came during a 16-game loan spell at West Ham last term, scoring nine league goals and winning the Player of the Month award in April.

Lingard’s continued omission from the United side has frustrated many critics, including Gary Neville.

The ex-defender said: “I still maintain he should’ve left, but he will have his moments. He’s got good character, he’s a very good player and I feel he should be playing 40-45 games a season.

“He won’t get that at United in terms of 90-minute starts, but he’s one of those players that I do feel United will benefit from having.

“I just thought for Jesse himself, he should’ve left. United could be a better team with someone like Lingard in it.”

Marcus Rashford

Marcus Rashford has played consistently under Solskjaer at Man Utd



Leading United’s attack against Cardiff was Rashford, who has since become a crucial member of Solskjaer’s squad.

The England forward played an incredible 57 games last season and is rarely left out of the team when fit.

Whether Rashford will become a world-class player, though, remains up for debate.

United legend Andy Cole said in February: “Marcus is not going to be a clinical centre-forward like an [Edinson] Cavani.

“Marcus will nick himself a certain amount of goals season in, season out, but he won’t be that individual you’re looking for to score 20/25 goals.”

Should Manchester United sack manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer? Have your say!

Anthony Martial

Martial enjoyed playing under Solskjaer during the manager’s first full season in charge, scoring 17 Premier League goals, but has managed just five since.

The Frenchman’s future at United is looking increasingly bleak, particularly after the return of club legend Cristiano Ronaldo.

Premier League winner Tim Sherwood said in August: “For me, Anthony Martial will be moved on.

“If they’ve got a home for Martial and they can get the right money, I think they will shake hands and say it never worked out.”

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