Solskjaer should forget Sancho and do business like Klopp
The battle between the Red Devils and FC Copenhagen in Cologne, Germany – just 100km from where Sancho’s team Borussia Dortmund is based – showed just why Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is desperate for the signature of the young England star.
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However, while the stalemate was resolved with another confidently-despatched Bruno Fernandes penalty – his seventh scored out of seven taken – in the fifth minute of extra time after Anthony Martial was brought down in the box for United’s record 21st penalty this season, the situation with Sancho remains up in the air despite the arbitrary Dortmund deadline passing on Aug 10.
United may have lost their chance for reinforcement with Dortmund’s sporting director now insisting Sancho will remain in Germany. But are United’s hopes of getting Sancho before the start of next season truly over? As experts at writing transfer stories that don’t do or say anything apart from delight agents because interest in their obscenely overpaid players remains high so they can extort billions of pounds from Manchester United, we’d advise you to believe what you see only when the transfer window is firmly and finally closed.
Meanwhile, it’s abundantly clear that United need to beef up their ranks. United had 26 shots at goal, with 14 on target. Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford both found the net but their goals were disallowed. Greenwood and Bruno Fernandes also whacked the woodwork, while Copenhagen’s goalkeeper Karl-Johan Johnsson had an outstanding night with 13 saves.
Despite that, United looked shaky at the back, and stale everywhere else. Even goalscorer Bruno was poor, earning the criticism of Solskjaer for giving the ball away too many times.
While Solskjaer continues to pursue his top target signings, Liverpool have quietly made a signing – Kostas Tsimikas has made the move from Olympiakos to Anfield on a five-year contract. Unlike the extortionary fee that United usually have to cough up to get a player to wear its red jersey, Liverpool’s fee for the Greek left-back is valued at just £11 million (S$19.8m).
Perhaps Liverpool’s discreet purchase is the better way to do business. Kostas’ arrival will probably not make a large and loud impact immediately as he is expected to provide cover for Andy Robertson. He will probably take his time to grow into his role the way Klopp’s players – like Takumi Minamino, for instance – do.
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Sancho, if he is ever going to make his way to Old Trafford, will be a disruptive inclusion – he will displace players already there. Furthermore, while Solskjaer has had considerable success in the past two transfer windows with the notable arrival of Bruno, his current courtship of Sancho is simply inviting robbery and extortion.
Manchester United, with the likes of Paul Pogba, Martial, Rashford, Greenwood and Bruno in their ranks are already a formidable attacking side. The club just needs players who can deputise effectively for these.
While we wait to see if Sancho will end his career at Dortmund, Solskjaer has further business to attend to in Germany as United face either Wolves or Sevilla in the semi-finals of the Europa League.
Either one should provide a more exciting challenge than FC Copenhagen.
While Wolves have not beaten United since 2004 when they won 1-0 in the Premier League, the four times the two sides have met this season have been close encounters, with two draws in the Premier League (1-1 at Molineux, 0-0 at Old Trafford), a goalless draw in the third-round of the FA Cup, and a 1-0 United win in the replay at Old Trafford. The fun part about such a fixture is that Wolves would qualify for a Champions League place if they win this tournament, which will make them suitably motivated.
Sevilla, on the other hand, have not lost to United in the two times they’ve met in European competition – in 2018, the Spanish side drew at home before beating the Red Devils 2-1 at Old Trafford in the Champions League Round of 16.
Whichever team faces United, however, Solskjaer’s priority may be to strengthen United for next season instead of filling up their trophy cupboard.
For the sake of a more competitive rivalry between United and Liverpool next season, I have my fingers crossed for Solskjaer to get the players he needs – and that, hopefully, does not include a certain £100 million trophy signing.