Manchester United managers are no strangers to waging a war of words.
Sir Alex Ferguson was notoriously spiky and deliberate in choosing his comments, knowing which pointed phrases and veiled accusations would rub opposition managers the wrong way.
Ahead of Leeds United’s opening game of the season versus Man United, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has suggested the Whites have an advantage over their financially well-endowed rivals.
Whether Solskjaer’s comments are sincere, or intended to unsettle the Leeds camp is unclear, but what is for certain, is that the Norwegian is already thinking ahead to the season’s curtain-raiser at Old Trafford.
Speaking to ESPN, Solskjaer revealed that new signings Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho would not be likely to start against Leeds next Saturday.
This is owing to the fact neither player has joined up with the first-team squad for pre-season training yet.
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Varane is yet to undergo his Manchester United medical, while Sancho remains on his end-of-season break after the European Championships.
By contrast, Kalvin Phillips – Sancho’s England teammate – has been back in pre-season training for 10 days or so, even taking part in his first pre-season friendly earlier this week versus Jong Ajax.
“They (Sancho and Varane) still haven’t trained with us and I need to see how they are,” Solskjaer admitted.
“I can’t see them being available for Everton but hopefully they will be ready to be on the bench [against Leeds].
“We’ve not got everyone back yet and we’re still lacking a few. Every year that there’s a [World Cup or European] Championship it’s difficult. Luke [Shaw], Harry [Maguire], Fred – a few – will only have the Everton game to prepare.
“It’s still not perfect because I think teams with fewer players in tournaments do have an advantage early on but we’re as ready as we can be,” he finished, as quoted by the MEN.
Manchester United have spent £114 million on Sancho and Varane this summer alone, while Leeds have added Junior Firpo and Jack Harrison for a combined £24 million.
Leeds may have the advantage in terms of their pre-season preparation, but the wealth of talent punctuating Manchester United’s squad certainly means they go into the opening day as favourites for the hotly-anticipated clash.