Tahith Chong

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Romelu Lukaku left out of Man United squad

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Romelu Lukaku has yet to feature for Manchester United in preseason and speculating regarding his future at Old Trafford will continue to swirl.

The Belgian star was left out of United’s 26-man squad for their trip to Norway to play Kristiansund on Tuesday, and there was no reason given for his absence on the club website.

Lukaku, 26, has been linked with moves to Italian giants Juventus and Inter Milan throughout the summer and it appears the end-game is near.

Reports suggest that Juve will offer Paulo Dybala for Lukaku, while Inter have been negotiating with United for some time but the Red Devils are said to want over $90 million for their Belgian striker and Antonio Conte‘s side are yet to offer anywhere near that.

An extra caveat to all of this is that Lukaku traveled with United to Australia and China for their lengthy preseason tour but didn’t play a single second due to a minor injury.

He could often be seen training on his own or working out on an excercise bike in the gym, as his future remains up in the air.

Do United need him?

Given his penchant as a proven goalscorer, you always need those around. But given the fact that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants young, speedy strikers and he has a lot of them, Lukaku’s skillset makes him surplus to requirements right off the bat.

We saw him chucked out wide at times during the second half of last season and although he caused problems in that role, he never looked comfortable. Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and youngsters Dan James and Mason Greenwood looked more natural fits for United’s new high-octane playing style.

Lukaku has talked about his love for Serie A on multiple occasions and it appears his time in the Premier League is about to come to an end.

When we look back on his United career, 42 goals in 96 appearances isn’t a bad record at all. But it doesn’t tell the whole story.

His hold-up play didn’t improve much, neither did his record against the top six clubs, and the lack of service he received — especially in the opening months of Jose Mourinho’s final season in charge — saw him frustrated so when chances did arrive he snatched at them.

Along with Paul Pogba, Lukaku always seemed to be under pressure at United and it seems close to the mark to say both have been too inconsistent over the past few seasons.

Here is United’s squad in full for the trop to Norway

David De Gea, Lee Grant, Joel Pereira, Sergio Romero; Diogo Dalot, Phil Jones, Victor Lindelof, Marcos Rojo, Luke Shaw, Chris Smalling, Axel Tuanzebe, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Ashley Young; Fred, Angel Gomes, Daniel James, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata, Nemanja Matic, Scott McTominay, Andreas Pereira, Paul Pogba; Tahith Chong, Mason Greenwood, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford.

Rashford, James, Pogba star as Manchester United hammers Leeds in Perth

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Manchester United topped Leeds 4-0 in a comprehensive victory in Perth that saw Marcus Rashford and new signing Daniel James run rampant down the flanks.

Rashford scored in the 27th minute with a beautiful move down the left that threw two Leeds defenders into each other, while James struck the post just before halftime on an overlap down the right in his Red Devils debut.

Also on the scoresheet was 17-year-old Mason Greenwood who received a hard, low cross from fellow debutant Aaron Wan-Bissaka and beat two Leeds defenders in a footrace to the ball on the doorstep for a sliding finish. The move was started by Paul Pogba who found the new Manchester United defender down the right with a wonderful through-ball, leading to the delivery into the box. Greenwood has had quite the last 12 months, scoring for the Manchester United U-17, U-18, U-23, and now senior side all in that span.

After the break, Phil Jones found the back of the net by powering home a corner with his head, while Anthony Martial finished off the scoreline with a penalty after Tahith Chong was fouled in the area by Liam Cooper. Chong impressed throughout the second half, linking well with fellow Manchester United youth product Angel Gomes.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer found playing time for just about every first-teamer, completely changing the side at halftime. Nemanja Matic was one of the halftime introductions, but was curiously withdrawn with 12 minutes to go, unclear if due to injury. The only Red Devil in the squad to not see the field was 21-year-old Axel Tuanzebe.

Solskjaer: ‘We just need consistency’

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In a vague, general word, Manchester United manager knows exactly what his club have been missing. Consistency.

More specifically, consistent success.

In a sit-down interview with the BBC, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer mentioned striving for consistency in performances on no less than four occasions, including when speaking about Alexis Sanchez. Man United won eight straight matches in all competitions and 10 of its first 11 under the Norwegian manager.

[READ: De Ligt lands in Turin ahead of Juventus move]

And yet, the consistency wasn’t there late in the season, when Man United faltered down the stretch and won just two of its last ten matches to close the season on a sour note. Man United finished in sixth place, and while Solskjaer said he believed it would be a challenge to break into the top four, he said with some consistent performances, Man United could achieve its goals.

“We have to aim for further up than fourth,” Solskjaer told the BBC. “I would rather be an optimist and be wrong than a pessimist and be right. I am not used to us being fifth or sixth but that is where we are at. That is the size of the challenge. I love that challenge.

“We have to work with the players, sign the right types and gradually make our way to the challenging line. Our players do have quality. They do have a chance. We just need consistency. We have to keep working every single day and not take our eyes off the target. Everyone gets off line at some point but you can’t let it drift too far because then you won’t get to the overall goal.”

Some Man United fans have been mumbling and rumbling due to the slow start in this summer’s transfer window. Ander Herrera and Antonio Valencia have both departed on free transfers, while only Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka have come in. While it’s not the improvements some fans were hoping for, it’s helped give some of the young players, like James Garner, Tahith Chong, Angel Gomes and Mason Greenword, some hope that they can get minutes.

Perhaps the push from the young players for first team minutes will make Man United a bit more competitive in training again, which can only help in terms of having success on the field.

The big question remains, which Man United team will we see this season. The one from Solskjaer’s first two months on the job, or the one from his last six weeks.

Man United can’t hold early lead, draw Huddersfield (video)

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  • Man United officially eliminated from top-4 race
  • McTominay scores on Lossl’s howler (8′)
  • Mbenza strikes back for Huddersfield (60′)

Manchester United’s top-four dreams officially crashed and burned on Sunday, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s side coughed up an early lead and drew already-relegated Huddersfield Town.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

With one game left to play, Man United (66 points) trail fourth-place Tottenham Hotspur by four points.

United went ahead through Scott McTominay, with many thanks to Huddersfield goalkeeper Jonas Lossl, in the 8th minute. The academy product worked his way past a pair of defenders to free himself up for a shot from the edge of the penalty area. His effort was quite tame, but Lossl made an absolute mess of it.

United so nearly doubled their lead in the 42nd minute, when Paul Pogba went inches from scoring an acrobatically impossible header. Juan Mata‘s cross came in from the left side, well behind Pogba, but the Frenchman contorted his body in the air and got plenty of power behind his effort, only to be denied by the crossbar.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Disaster struck for the Red Devils right on the hour mark. Lossl made a simple saved and charged ahead before launching a counter-attack with a seeing-eye through ball headed for Isaac Mbenza. With the majority of United’s defense inside the Huddersfield box for a corner kick, Mbenza was in behind and only had to be David De Gea, which he did by calmly slotting the ball past him.

United’s first chance at an equalizer came and went when Phil Jones failed to even put the ball on frame with only the goalkeeper to beat. Ashley Young sent a bouncing free kick into the box and Jones was completely unmarked at the near post. He got the finish all wrong and watched helplessly as the ball bounded over the goal.

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Their best chances came and went in the 88th minute, in agonizing fashion. First, Tahith Chong raced in on goal with just Lossl to beat, but saw his effort pushed away with no one arriving at the back post to tap home the free rebound. Seconds later, Pogba struck a curler from the edge of the penalty area, but found only the crossbar.

That kind of day — that kind of season — for Man United.

He’s earned it: Time to give Solskjaer permanent job

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Minutes after his team suffered a brutal 2-0 defeat at Old Trafford to Paris Saint-Germain, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer uttered what could have been considered a throw-away line. “Mountains are there to be climbed.”

On Wednesday, Manchester United and theoretically climbed that mountain. And Solskjaer did too. The Norwegian has been an absolute revelation in his return to Man United as a coach, guiding Man United to a record of 14 wins in 17 games, with just the one defeat to PSG.

Solskjaer re-joined Man United from Molde on a short-term contract as an interim. But by overcoming PSG in the most sensational way possible close to his heart – a winner in second half stoppage time – Solskjaer showed that he deserves to have the interim tag removed.

Solskjaer has brought a new outlook and perspective to the club and it seems that all players have reacted positively to his arrival. Players aren’t afraid of repercussions from their manager for mistakes and with so many injuries, Solskjaer is even getting decent performances from the team’s youngsters. Tahith Chong played 10 minutes and 17-year-old Mason Greenwood made his first team debut with three minutes to go against PSG.

In his last two games, Solskjaer has delivered even when it seemed Man United was under serious pressure and on the verge of losing. Man United came back to beat Southampton and did the same against PSG.

Time and time again, Solskjaer has overcome expectations. With the squad looking very likely to finish in the top four and the fact that it’s made it into the last eight of the Champions League, there’s no reason to keep waiting.

Could Mauricio Pocchetino deliver these results with this squad? Perhaps. But Man United has the coach they’ve been looking for since Sir Alex Ferguson retired on the sidelines right now. It’s time to make it permanent.