Man Utd: Solskjaer knows importance of first silverware
Amad Diallo will not make his Manchester United debut against Liverpool in the FA Cup today, with the young Ivorian winger not having reported to the Lowry Hotel will the rest of his team-mates last night. Jesse Lingard was another player who was not present amid speculation he could leave the club this month.
The Manchester Evening News noted that none of Diallo, Lingard, the on-loan Odion Ighalo or Brandon Williams turned up to the city centre hotel last night where United stay prior to home games, rendering them highly unlikely to be in the match-day squad today.
It had been suggested £37million Diallo could feature for the first time since linking up with the Red Devils from Atalanta in the January transfer window but he will be made to wait for a first appearance.
However, Victor Lindelof was present and could return to the team after another niggle. The Swede replaced Eric Bailly for United’s Premier League clash with Liverpool at Anfield last weekend and helped keep a clean sheet on Merseyside.
But he missed the midweek win over Fulham with Solskjaer saying: “It’s still his back we’ve got a few issues with.”
Lindelof has only completed 90 minutes twice since December 20 having missed five league and cup games.
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Yet despite his long-standing back niggle, Lindelof has been cleared to return to the squad and may displace Bailly once more alongside Harry Maguire in central defence.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is set to make several changes with Dean Henderson in line to replace David de Gea in goal.
Elsewhere, Alex Telles will hope to start at left-back and Donny van de Beek, Daniel James and Mason Greenwood will be the others keen to feature from the off.
Talismanic playmaker Bruno Fernandes should drop to the bench having played heavily for United of late.
Hinting at what starting line-up he will pick, Solskjaer said this week: “We’ll rotate, that’s for sure. We’ll put a decent team together of course, a team I feel can win the game.
“Of course you want to get your hands on that first trophy, but it’s always the league position that’s the measure of how far you have come. Anyone can have an easy cup run, I’m not one of those. I never get an easy cup run!
“I’m never going to watch a draw ever again because we always seem to pick out the difficult opponents. In a cup run, sometimes you can get to a final without really playing any of the top ones.
“This time around, we’ve picked one of the favourites and we know this is a big one if you want to go all the way.”
Opponents Liverpool have not won any of their last five games across all competitions and had their 68-game Anfield unbeaten run ended by Burnley on Thursday night.
But attacking midfielder Fernandes said: “I don’t think Liverpool are playing poorly. I think they don’t win and this is the point.
“When teams don’t win, everyone talks about that. When players don’t score, everyone talks about that.
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“I feel that on me because I know the standard is high, because I arrived and I scored a lot of goals and make a lot of assists, and everyone is wanting goals and assists from me.
“It is the same – everyone expects goals from Salah, from Firmino and from Mane. They are not scoring in the last games and it starts feeling like ‘oh, they are not playing well’.
“They create, they play, but the other teams are playing better and, as I said before, they have more qualities to play.
“Every team goes there to play maybe without the pressure of the fans. Teams play a little bit more comfortably and, as I say, I think it is a moment.
“We don’t have to look at that moment because big teams and big players can show in every moment.”
Man Utd FA Cup squad vs Liverpool in full
Goalkeepers: David de Gea, Dean Henderson, Lee Grant
Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Harry Maguire, Axel Tuanzebe, Eric Bailly, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw, Alex Telles
Midfielders: Fred, Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba, Scott McTominay, Juan Mata, Donny van de Beek, Bruno Fernandes
Forwards: Daniel James, Anthony Martial, Mason Greenwood, Edinson Cavani, Marcus Rashford
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