Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has defended his decision to leave Donny van de Beek on the bench during Manchester United’s dramatic 2-1 win over Villarreal in the Champions League.
The 24-year-old has played just 141 minutes of football this season after being denied the chance to leave the club in the most recent transfer window – Everton, who face United on Saturday, were reportedly keen on a loan deal for the former Ajax man.
Solskjaer argues, however, that with a squad so stacked full of talent, it is impossible for him to keep everyone happy, and insists that he is satisfied with Van de Beek’s professional conduct.
“You know, I manage a squad full of international footballers, competitive footballers who want to make a difference, who want to play,” Solskjaer said. “They all want to be on the pitch, of course they do.
“Donny was ready to come on, as all players should be. I’ve been a sub more than anyone in this club probably – I must have a record (for) appearances as a sub – and you have to be ready all the time. I’ve been not very happy a few times but that is the decision the manager makes.”
Everton will be without several key players on Saturday, including Richarlison. The Brazil forward this week suggested he is unsure over his future, though stressed any move away from Goodison Park would also have to be beneficial to the Toffees.
Rafael Benitez, though, insists there is no rush to leave on Richarlison’s part.
“To be fair yesterday I was having lunch with him, and he was happy, we were talking about the future, his situation and the main thing is that he is fit,” he said. “I was talking with his people and it was a nice conversation, but the aim was to be fit, score goals and to do well for us.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Manchester United – Cristiano Ronaldo
If he plays, this will be Ronaldo’s 200th Premier League appearance (87 goals). He would be the 24th different player to reach this milestone with the Red Devils, at least eight more than any other side in the competition.
Everton – Andros Townsend
Townsend has been involved in seven goals in eight games in all competitions this season (four goals, three assists), more than any other Everton player. Townsend opened the scoring for Crystal Palace in their 3-1 league win against Manchester United at Old Trafford last season.
KEY OPTA FACTS
United have lost just one of their last 12 Premier League meetings with Everton (W6 D5), going down 4-0 at Goodison Park in April 2019.
Having won their first ever Premier League away game against Manchester United in August 1992, Everton have emerged victorious in just one of their subsequent 28 trips to Old Trafford (D7 L20).
Benitez has lost seven of his nine Premier League away games against United, winning the other two. His victories came with Liverpool in March 2009 (4-1) and Chelsea in May 2013 (1-0), and he could become the first ever manager to win a top-flight away match against the Red Devils with three different clubs.
No player has created more chances in the Premier League this season than United’s Bruno Fernandes (21), with 10 of these coming in the Red Devils ‘1-0 defeat to Aston Villa last time out.
Paul Pogba has had more shots without scoring than any other player in the Premier League this season (15). However, the Frenchman has provided seven assists so far this term, more than double that of any other player.