Ole Gunnar Solskjaer caught replicating Alexis Sanchez tactics with Lingard

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has sung attacking-midfielder Jesse Lingard’s praises lately but fans are sceptical of the Manchester United manager’s intentions.

Lingard, 28, has returned to Man United following a successful loan spell at West Ham during the second half of the 2020/21 season where he scored nine goals and assisted four in 16 matches.

The Englishman missed United’s 5-1 demolition of Leeds last Saturday due to testing positive for COVID-19, but Solskjaer remains adamant he will be an important player this season.

Yet fans believe talk of Lingard being a ‘big part’ of the squad sounds similar to a ploy previously used by the Red Devils boss to drive former player Alexis Sanchez’s value higher, before the club flogged him for a greater fee.

Speaking to the official club website on Friday, Solskjaer said: “I think Jesse’s first priority is to get into our team. I think whenever your employer is Man United, I think that’s your first priority and always is.

“I think we, together, can have great moments. As a manager, with players in a squad like I’ve got now, it’s difficult. It’s difficult to say that ‘this weekend you’re not playing.

“Of course, I have to leave players out, never mind from the starting XI but from the squad. But they all have to remember and know they’re going to have to play a part if we’re going to be successful.

“Jesse is back to his fitness, he played really well in the behind-closed-doors game on Tuesday and he’s come back bubbly and in good shape. He’s got a big part to play.”

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Yet fans are refusing to be duped, recalling the fact that Solskjaer said the same regarding Alexis Sanchez last summer before he was sold to Inter Milan.

One supporter tweeted: “He’s just trying to keep Lingard’s value [high]. He did the same with Sanchez.”

He was joined by another observant fan, who added: "’Alexis is going to come back and surprise everybody’, if other teams hear s*** like ‘he's useless and a fringe player’, they are more likely to expect us to take a lower bid, if they think he's a little important, they might bid more.”

Another wrote: ““You said the same thing about Sanchez he was out 48 hours later.”

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