Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is preparing for his first full season in charge of Manchester United, so what are the main challenges he faces?
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Galvanise dressing room
Manchester United’s summer has played out to a backdrop of uncertainty surrounding key players. Paul Pogba went public with his desire to leave the club in June, but a month on his future appears little closer to being sorted out. Solskjaer insists United will not be forced into selling him, but the speculation looks set to drag on.
There are question marks over David de Gea, too. United are eager to tie him to a new contract, with Sky Sports News reporting they are willing to make him the highest-paid goalkeeper in the world, but he is yet to commit his future to the club as he enters the final year of his current deal.
What exactly happens with Pogba and De Gea – not to mention Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez – may prove to be out of Solskjaer’s hands, but it’s down to him to manage how it impacts the dressing room. His challenge is to bring back the team spirit and camaraderie that underpinned United’s upturn in form in his first few months in charge.
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It won’t be easy – especially with such strong personalities involved. Pogba, De Gea and Lukaku are all senior figures in the dressing room. If they go, there will be a major rebuilding job at hand. If they stay, Solskjaer must ensure they fall in line while also getting more out of them on the pitch.
Pogba’s inconsistency remains a big issue despite his inclusion in last year’s PFA Team of the Year, while De Gea’s drop in form last season was alarming. According to Opta, he made more errors leading to goals (five) than in the previous five Premier League seasons combined. Lukaku, meanwhile, was unable to hold down a starting spot.