Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer confirmed that Alexis Sanchez could be on his way out of Old Trafford if the right offer arrives.
Having failed to get anywhere near his best since joining from Arsenal in January 2018, the United manager appeared to end any talk of the Chilean leaving in recent weeks.
Solskjaer spoke about his belief that Sanchez would come good at United – but a number of days on the Norwegian opened the door to the Premier League’s highest-paid player making an exit.
Inter are interested in bringing the forward to San Siro, having already completed a move for United striker Romelu Lukaku earlier in the summer.
“Alexis is a quality player. We don’t have loads of options,” Solskjaer told the Evening Standard.
“If there is an offer that’s good enough for the club and him maybe he will go, but if not then he’s still our player and he’s a quality player.”
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has told his Manchester United team they need to wise up after Crystal Palace snatched a surprise late victory at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Daniel James appeared to have salvaged a point for United with just a minute of regular time remaining, but United could not see the game out and Patrick
Van Aanholt earned Palace a first league win at Old Trafford in 30 years as he finished off a swift counter-attack three minutes into time added on.
The late drama came after Marcus Rashford missed a 70th-minute penalty, having taken over spot-kick duties from Paul Pogba, who also missed a penalty in Monday’s 1-1 draw at Wolves.
“We have to learn and we have to learn quickly,” said Solskjaer. “From the last two games we should have got six points out of six if you look at the games as a neutral.
“We’re two missed penalties away from sitting there smiling, happy with nine points.”
United enjoyed more than 70 per cent possession against Palace and had 22 shots at goal, but only James really threatened Vincente Guaita’s goal, seeing a first-half shot blocked by Van Aanholt in front of the goalkeeper before bending in his late equaliser.
However, Palace took a 32nd-minute lead with their first chance of the game, a route-one goal as Jeremy Schlupp beat Victor Lindelof to Guaita’s long punt forward to leave Jordan Ayew one-on-one with David De Gea.
“We didn’t have enough urgency and penetration in the first half until they scored,” Solskjaer said. “They never looked like creating anything. We felt maybe it was too easy. That’s when you need that tempo change.
“I thought we did that in the second half, we were excellent in that respect with more pressure, more chances, more urgency, but of course you’ve got to hit the target and score the goals when you have those moments.”
United’s struggles in front of goal raised further questions about the decision to let Romelu Lukaku leave without replacing him.
The 17-year-old Mason Greenwood came off the bench in the second half, but Solskjaer was otherwise short of options.
Alexis Sanchez was not in the matchday squad as he continues to be linked with a move away from the club before the European transfer window closes.
“Alexis is a quality player,” Solskjaer said. “We don’t have loads of options. If there is an offer that’s good enough for the club and him maybe he will go, but if not then he’s still our player and he’s a quality player.
“He’s been training well and there’s no doubt about his quality so let’s see.”
While Solskjaer was left to rue his side’s profligacy in front of goal – and pointed to two possible penalty decisions which did not go his side’s way – Palace boss Roy Hodgson enjoyed a rare success for the Londoners at Old Trafford.
“The key was the defensive discipline, the shape of the team, the enormous work-rate and effort,” Hodgson said. “We did well to stick to the script at all times.
“We were getting asked a lot of questions which we knew we would. They have a wealth of talent and we knew if we didn’t seal the spaces and make certain that when we lost the ball we got back in our shape and only let them have the ball in the less dangerous areas they would score a goal.
“We rode our luck with the penalty a little bit. When they got that penalty I thought, ‘This is going to be tricky for us now if they score this’.
“When we got away with that I was rather hoping to see it through 1-0 but we saw it through 2-1 thanks to a good bit of work from Wilfried Zaha and James McCarthy.”
So, the Manchester United revival under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has shuddered to an excruciating stop then, huh?
After a fine pre-season and unbeaten start to what appeared a tricky opening to the 2019/20 Premier League campaign, a thumping victory over Chelsea and decent away point at Wolves was undone by a shattering 2-1 home defeat to Crystal Palace.
United’s performance was insipid and harked back to so many from last term as they could find little cutting edge and lacked penetration against a well organised visiting defence.
Jordan Ayew struck against the run of play only for Daniel James to fire in a stunning late equaliser after Marcus Rashford had smacked a penalty off the inside of the post. But late drama was to unfold when Patrick Van Aanholt squirmed a shot under David De Gea to end a run of 20 consecutive Premier League games without a win over United for the Eagles.
And that features among our talking points from the game.
HOME OR HELL?
United have started 2019/20 brightly under Solskjaer, but one thing that must improve above maybe anything else is their home form. Or perhaps, more specifically, the aura of Old Trafford has to be re-established. It has to become a fortress once again if progress is to be made.
Slow starts in front of their home supporters have become a depressing trait of United post Sir Alex Ferguson. Proud records that had stood for years began tumbling as soon as the dust had started collecting on top-flight title number 20. They still fall now, with victory Palace’s first in the league over United since May 1991.
Old Trafford’s thinning veneer in the ensuing six seasons is a continuing cause for concern.
The Theatre of Dreams has become more of a fun family trip to the cinema for away teams, and something has got to change.
Whether it’s a combination of Old Trafford losing its lustre or identity, with the steady influx of day-tripping merchandise-hunting fans leading to a reduced amount of diehard supporters cramming inside its walls, it is no longer a place away teams and players fear.
Even Palace – shorn of one of their two best players over the summer (Aaron Wan-Bissaka signed for United, while star man Wilfried Zaha also yearns for a move away) – showed scant trepidation as they headed north, despite having not yet scored a goal this season prior to kick-off.
Wily Roy Hodgson played five in midfield and was happy to block access to the Eagles’ goal and while the hosts swooped on the visitors’ penalty box, they showed little sign of penetrating their defence.
The once cavernous Stretford End is now normally eerily silent on match days – even more so if United struggle to score early or, even worse, fall behind.
The defeat means United have now won just three of the last 15 in all competitions since the victory over Paris Saint-Germain in the second leg of their Champions League last 16 tie.
Things are steadily improving under Solskjaer. But a chief requirement remains for the Red Devils to be more ruthless at home.
PALACE KINGS OF OLD TRAFFORD
Crystal Palace shattered a long-standing and hugely unwanted record with victory – it was their first ever over United in the Premier League era. To put that in context, before Saturday the Eagles had not soared to three points in 20 previous attempts. Suffering 16 defeats and earning just four draws.
They’d shipped 40 goals over that period against the 20-time champions of England and scored just eight themselves. But they were worthy winners on Saturday. Of course they had to ride their luck throughout the 90 minutes as experienced manager Hodgson packed the midfield. The away side would have been fully aware before kick-off that they would have to withstand heavy periods of United pressure and likely set up camp on their own 18-yard box.
This they did, but they also took their opportunities too; Ayew reacting expertly to Jeffrey Schlupp’s commanding climb above Victor Lindelof and running on to his knockdown before calmly finishing past De Gea. They even kept pushing as the game opened up in the second half and United pressed for a winner following James’ sumptuous equaliser – cleverly anticipating the home side’s desire to push for a winner.
And with Zaha always a threat on the counter, they reaped the rewards when Van Aanholt crashed in the winner.
It was fitting that it came on a weekend in which records throughout England’s top flight were banished, with Jack Grealish also exorcising some ghosts involving the number 20. The Aston Villa midfielder saw his record run of 20-straight Premier League defeats come to an end, with the promoted side earning a 2-0 win over Everton on Friday.
Grealish’s unwanted run began on the day he made his senior debut as a substitute in a 4-0 defeat to Manchester City back in May 2014.
Palace’s win, meanwhile, was their first in the league over United since May 1991 – a 3-0 triumph at Selhurst Park. Ayew’s strike, meanwhile, was the Eagles’ first league goal at Old Trafford since 2004.
JAMES HAS A HIGH CEILING
Despite a rotten day for the Red Devils, it was another step forward on the career progression ladder for Welsh winger James.
James is like the Energizer Bunny, he just keeps going and going. He was the most fouled played in the Premier League coming into the weekend and he was floored constantly throughout the contest – but much to the annoyance of visiting defenders, he just kept getting back up.
Six times the 21-year-old was felled altogether – it really should have been seven but referee Paul Tierney’s terrible decision to show the youngster a second yellow card within a week for diving was surely influenced by his booking for the same offence during the 1-1 draw at Wolves on Monday.
Neither was warranted as James was clipped on both occasions. But more impressive has been James’ reaction to both cards. Rather than cower in a corner, the diminutive 5’ 7” flyer stood tall.
Two bookings in successive games for simulation – one last week at Molineux where the home crowd were in his ear with every touch – would usually be enough to see any young player retreat to the fringes of a game.
But not James. After all, on the eve of his move to United this summer, his father Kevan suddenly passed away. So he’s already overcome bigger obstacles in his 21 years than card-happy officials and baying away crowds.
Following his card against Wolves – he’d been felled unintentionally by Joao Moutinho’s trailing left boot – he rapidly chased down giant Mexican striker Raul Jimenez after losing possession. United fans winced, fearing a rash challenge from James and an imminent red card. Instead, he used his pace to track Jimenez and then used his slight frame to get in-between player and ball and make a clean tackle.
After his yellow on Saturday – despite being clearly fouled by James McArthur – James persevered and even prevailed. At the end of a sweeping move following Paul Pogba’s excellent challenge on Zaha, James provided an even more excellent finish – curling beyond a motionless Vicente Guaita to score his second goal in front of the Stretford End in as many weeks. United have a talent on their hands.