Manchester United’s surprising defeat to Aston Villa this weekend has opened up a can of worms for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his squad. The visitors stole all three points in the dying moments of the game, with Bruno Fernandes missing a late penalty.
Perhaps more of a blow than the result, Solskjaer could now be without star defenders Luke Shaw and Harry Maguire. The pair were withdrawn from the game after struggling with injuries. After the game, Solskjaer remained coy on the duo as they await results from scans.
A long spell on the sidelines would be a huge blow to Solskjaer’s title aspirations but it offers two players the chance to redeem themselves after facing heavy criticism.
Diogo Dalot replaced Luke Shaw against Aston Villa and with Aaron Wan-Bissaka seemingly still the first-choice at right-back, Dalot’s impressive campaign with AC Milan last season could earn him a prolonged spell at left-back.
Alex Telles returned from injury earlier this week but did little to displace Shaw or Dalot and the Portuguese defender is well placed to impress the manager. Previously, Solskjaer has been reluctant to use Dalot in high-stake games, with even outcast defender Timothy Fosu-Mensah featuring over him before the Dutchman left earlier this year.
Maguire was replaced by long-term partner Victor Lindelof against Aston Villa. The Swede has been a mainstay in United’s defence since Solskjaer took over in 2018 but has now been replaced by Raphael Varane.
Lindelof has long been the butt of criticism among Manchester United supporters but some of it has been unfounded, agenda-driven and unfair. Although he leaves some to be wanted in aerial battles, Lindelof’s reading of the game and his ability to stay calm on the ball is valuable to his side.
Solskjaer is yet to confirm whether Maguire will be missing for an extended period but should the Norwegian be without his captain, there is a perfectly good replacement with a shot at redemption waiting for his chance.