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Solskjaer hints his two big Manchester United choice decisions vs Villarreal.

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Solskjaer hints his two big Manchester United choice decisions vs Villarreal.

Solskjaer hints his two big Manchester United choice decisions vs Villarreal.

One of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s selection jumbles ahead of the Europa League final became a little clearer in Gdansk last night, with Harry Maguire inefficient to practice with his teammates just over 24 hours from the game.

That will rule Maguire out of meeting Villarreal in Manchester United’s first final in three years and while Solskjaer’s starting XI for a game he reveals will shape United’s season is somewhat settled, there are still a couple of so-so calls to be made.

Addressing the media inside Stadion Gdansk on Tuesday afternoon, just ahead of his squad going through their final training session out on the field, Solskjaer said he will tell his players the team on Wednesday, but most of the starters will be secure in the knowledge they will be picked to face the La Liga side.

The two most marginal choices revolving around who begins in goal and who starts the game on the left-wing. For six consecutive game, David de Gea and Dean Henderson have switched in and out of the side and if, as anticipated, De Gea starts in Poland it will make seven.

Further forward Mason Greenwood has ended the season in form and received a slot in Gareth Southgate’s provisional 33-man squad for Euro 2020 yesterday, but Solskjaer has made no secret of his trust and faith in Marcus Rashford’s skills.

And the United manager may well have given the game away over both of those calls during yesterday’s press conference for United’s 61st and final game of a freakish 2020/21 period.

“It’s always difficult to leave players out. A final is a reward for what you’ve done the whole season. If there’s a doubt between a couple it’s the form in the latter stages,” he said.

While Henderson and Greenwood have apparently had stronger finishes to the season, De Gea and Rashford have played a more fundamental part to the story of the summer as a whole and that could be the deciding factor in choosing who starts.

Henderson has risen as the No. 1 in the Premier League since March – although that situation is again up for debate – and he’s started four knockout ties in the Europa League, just as De Gea has. But the Spaniard was brilliant in Rome in the second leg of the semi-final and has started 35 games in all competitions to Henderson’s 25 this summer.


It’s been by no substance a flawless season for United’s four-time player of the season but he has progressed on his past two campaigns. When reviewing his goalkeepers last week Solskjaer began by reverencing Henderson before moving on to De Gea with an embellishment of “but David is David”. His status at Old Trafford is hard to break.

Likewise with Rashford. On form Greenwood presumably warrants to start in Gdansk, with eight goals in his last 13 games, but if Paul Pogba stars on the left and Edinson Cavani through the middle, that leaves only one attacking position open.

Greenwood is presumably more naturally readjusted to the left, but Rashford’s benefaction to the campaign is hard to overlook, even if he hasn’t always been at the top of his game. For the second season in a row, he’s passed the 20-goal mark in all competitions and his tally of 21 goals and 13 assists is ameliorated in both categories by only Bruno Fernandes, with 28 goals and 18 assists.

From an analytical point of view, Rashford’s case is solid and he has a penchant of performing when it matters. He would surely feel it to be favoritism if he was left out of United’s biggest game of the summer.

Solskjaer understands that those who miss out on pick will be furious with him, but he wants that rage channeled in the right direction. With five substitutes available there is every possibility replacements will play a part and while the impoverished goalkeeper might have to accept an evening sat watching from the bench, Greenwood will be an anticipated substitute if he does miss out on Rashford.

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Solskjaer hints his two big Manchester United choice decisions vs Villarreal.


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