Ole Gunnar Solskjær insists Donny van de Beek has not been frozen out at Manchester United despite making four Premier League starts since his £35m arrival from Ajax 13 months ago. The Netherlands international’s frustrations were evident during Wednesday’s Champions League win over Villarreal when he threw his chewing gum to the floor upon realising he would not be coming off the bench.
Van de Beek has featured for five minutes in the Premier League this season, in addition to starts in defeats to Young Boys in the Champions League, where he was substituted at half-time, and West Ham in the Carabao Cup. The midfielder could have ended up this summer at Everton, who visit United on Saturday, but Solskjær ruled out his departure, according to the player’s agent.
“He knows he is not frozen out,” Solskjær said. “It’s Man United and when a headline player is not playing for Man United, it is always going to make headlines. I’ve got plenty of them every week that don’t play, so I don’t have any issues with Donny; he knows what he needs to work on, what we want him to work on. He is diligent in his work and he has never ever let his mood affect his team and teammates negatively. You have to have that fire in your belly if you’re going to make it.”
The Manchester United manager looked to play down the act of petulance by referencing one of the club’s greatest managers – and gum chewers – Sir Alex Ferguson. Solskjær joked: “I was taught as a kid to never swallow chewing gum, so he’s probably followed the gaffer’s lead and thrown it out. Absolutely no worries about that. What are you supposed to do, hand it to someone else?”
Solskjær was always seen as a “super-sub” during his United playing career, making 150 appearances off the bench in 11 years. “I was a sub more than anyone in this club,” he said. “I’ve been not very happy a few times but that’s just the decision the manager makes.”
One player who is being given time on the pitch to prove himself is Jadon Sancho, despite Gareth Southgate admitting the winger does not merit his latest England call-up on the basis of his form. The summer signing from Borussia Dortmund is yet to score or assist a goal but Solskjær thinks he is showing signs of his capabilities.
“Jadon was exceptional, he was electric, the crowd loved him,” he said of the 21-year-old’s display against Villarreal. “I think he felt that connection with the crowd, and that is what we want from him: to be direct, positive, go past players numerous times. He will be a top player. Performances are going to come.”