We had no idea that an outright away win at LASK in the Europa League would be our ultimate taste in football for so long. The timing of the return will not be clear, but June seems increasingly likely after the government unveiled its plans to ease the lock on Monday.
However, there is no absolute clarity as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his players await the resumption of a routine that has dictated their lifestyle from childhood.
The current two-month break is longer than many players have experienced in their careers, with the gap between the last day of a season and the start of the preseason shorter than the one we are currently experiencing. As a result, United has worked tirelessly to ensure that a new fitness regime is implemented quickly once the lockdown is announced, with the real struggle to keep players and staff motivated in a seemingly perpetual pandemic.
After such a long break, all players will be eager to leave as they seek to return to the field at the earliest opportunity, and for the injured stars, this is a situation that could benefit them.
Most of the talk over the past few weeks has focused on Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba, two injured stars from the first team, but also two players who may hold the key to Solskjaer’s reconstruction in the years to come.
After such long layoffs, fans can’t wait to see the pair back in action and the further away football is, the better their chances of an immediate return. Ideally, there will be three months between matches for United and a clean slate for Solskjaer when it comes to team selection.
The current break in the game has been called a “mini preseason,” but it is in fact extended. Before football was suspended, United embarked on an 11-game unbeaten streak, which is still technically ongoing, but will be irrelevant when play resumes.
With all their momentum lost, United will not be able to choose a camp simply on merit from March, but Solskjaer will have to be ruthless and choose a camp that is the fittest and has played the best in training rather than a match. scenario.
This should suit both Rashford and Pogba, with the duo now perfectly positioned to resume their place in the starting line.
Odion Ighalo’s future remains in doubt at United and if no agreement can be reached, Rashford is almost assured of his starting position again, while the broken momentum in the midfield is an ideal opportunity for Pogba to restore his authority as a key player in the field at the club.
The same argument can also be used against the pair, the two stars knowing that their return is not guaranteed simply because of their reputation. This should make the competition for places even more fierce than before, and for Solskjaer, it will be a real test to see who are the leaders of his team.
Without football until June at the earliest, injured United players know they have more time to get in shape. It is then up to them to convince the manager that they deserve to play.