Manchester United has not played a game for two months now.
We had no idea that an outright victory away from LASK in the Europa League would be our last taste of football for so long. It’s unclear when he will actually return, but June looks increasingly likely after the government unveiled plans to ease the lockdown on Monday.
However, no absolute clarity remains as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his players await the resumption of a routine that has dictated their way of life since childhood.
The current two-month hiatus is longer than many players will have experienced in their careers, with a gap between the last day of a season and the start of the preseason shorter than we are currently experiencing. . As a result, United have worked tirelessly to ensure that a new fitness regime is implemented swiftly once the lockdown is announced with the real struggle to ensure players and staff stay motivated in the midst of a pandemic that seems perpetual.
After such a long break, all players will be eager to start over as they look to get back on the pitch at the earliest opportunity, and for injured stars, it is a situation that could benefit them.
Much of the talk in recent weeks has focused on injured first-team stars Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba, but also two players who could be key to Solskjaer’s rebuilding in the years to come.
After such long layoffs fans are eager to see the pair back in action and the further away the football the better for their chances of an immediate comeback. In the best-case scenario, it will be three months between United matches and a clean slate for Solskjaer when it comes to squad selection.
The current hiatus in the game has been referred to as a “mini preseason,” but it is actually an extended period. Before football was suspended United had embarked on an 11-game unbeaten streak, which is still technically in progress, but will be of little importance when play resumes.
With all of their momentum past, United won’t be able to pick a squad simply on merit from March onwards, but rather Solskjaer will have to be ruthless and pick a team that is the fittest and has performed best in training rather than that. ‘a scenario match.
This should suit both Rashford and Pogba, with the duo now in an ideal position to reclaim their place in the starting XI.
Odion Ighalo’s future remains uncertain at United and if a deal cannot be reached Rashford is almost assured of his starting place again, while the interrupted momentum in midfield is a perfect opportunity for Pogba to reestablish his authority as a key fielder at the club.
The same argument can also be used against the pair, with the two stars knowing their return is not guaranteed just because of their reputation. This should make the competition for places even fiercer than before, and for Solskjaer it will be a real test to see who the leaders of his team are.
Without football before June at the earliest, injured United players know they have even more time to get back into shape. It is then up to them to convince the manager that they deserve to play.