Four Man Utd players now safe from Old Trafford exit after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sacking

Mauricio Pochettino discusses Manchester United job

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Manchester United started life beyond the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer era with an impressive 2-0 victory over Villarreal on Tuesday. Cristiano Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho, two signings from the Norwegian’s final transfer window, scored the goals to send the Red Devils into the Champions League knockout rounds. 

The Old Trafford hierarchy had long maintained that they had confidence in Solskjaer to turn around a difficult period of form. 

However, that trust in the 48-year-old could no longer continue following United’s 4-1 thrashing by lowly Watford on Saturday. Solskjaer was dismissed fewer than 24 hours later.  

Several players had been linked with exits under Solskjaer but could now earn a reprieve under a new manager.  

Mauricio Pochettino is the current favourite to take over, with several reports suggesting that the ex-Tottenham boss is willing to leave Paris Saint Germain to take the job. 

Express Sport looks at who might now dodge the Old Trafford exit. 

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Donny van de Beek 

It was slightly apt that the Dutch midfielder scored the final goal of Solskjaer’s reign. The former Ajax star had been starved of minutes despite being signed for £34million in the summer of 2020.  

Van de Beek met Cristiano Ronaldo’s cut-back against Watford on Saturday to head home. However, it was the 4-1 defeat against the Hornets that ultimately cost Solskjaer his job.  

The 24-year-old was making just his third Premier League appearance of the season. He played in only 1,684 minutes under Solskjaer in 18 months – the equivalent of just under 18 full matches.  

It seemed certain that Van de Beek might depart in January had Solskjaer continued but he may now be given a new lease of life at Old Trafford under a new boss.  

He played 66 minutes in the 2-0 Champions League victory over Villarreal on Tuesday, with Michael Carrick in temporary charge.  

His former Ajax boss Erik ten Hag has been linked with replacing Solskjaer. 

Anthony Martial 

There was a minor surprise on the Man Utd team-sheet for that win against Villarreal when Martial was picked to start by Carrick.  

The often forgotten forward had not begun a fixture in any competition since he scored against Everton on October 2.  

Now behind the likes of Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, Cristiano Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani for a place in the Red Devils’ attack, Martial seemed destined to soon head for the exit.  

But he performed well in his 66 minutes against Villarreal, which came after he was introduced as a half-time substitute versus Watford.  

A new manager might have the Frenchman higher up his list of preferences. 

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Dean Henderson 

Henderson seemed set to permanently oust David De Gea as the club’s No 1 last term. 

The 24-year-old started 10 of United’s final 12 Premier League matches but suffered a back injury just before Euro 2020.  

That issue meant that he withdrew from the England squad and was then pipped to the starting spot at Old Trafford by De Gea.  

Henderson has not played in the Premier League this season, instead featuring just once in the EFL Cup. He has played twice for the club’s U23 side. 

The former Sheffield United shot-stopper has been linked with a transfer but there is a possibility that the new head coach might start him ahead of De Gea. 

Jadon Sancho 

Given his huge £73m summer arrival, it was always unlikely that Sancho would leave any time soon.  

However, the return of Cristiano Ronaldo immediately placed the England winger down the Old Trafford pecking order. 

Sancho struggled in his initial months in Manchester and his clinical finish against Villarreal was his first goal involvement at his new club.  

It had been loosely mooted that the 21-year-old could find a loan move to continue his development before he becomes a key player for United but a new manager will likely have the South Londoner in their team. 
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