Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has named Edinson Cavani, Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba as key to the dressing room at Old Trafford. And that suggests the Norwegian doesn’t see Harry Maguire as a natural leader, despite the England international being the club’s captain. All four players are in contention to start when the Red Devils lock horns with Liverpool in their FA Cup showdown on Sunday.
United gave Maguire the captaincy in January 2020, with the England international replacing Ashley Young as skipper.
He’s certainly had some low moments during that time but, recently, has risen to the fore with some solid performances at the back.
Many United fans are still unsure on Maguire but Solskjaer has regularly backed his captain, insisting he’s vital.
However, speaking before his side’s FA Cup showdown with Liverpool, the Norwegian didn’t name the former Leicester star as one of the players vital to the dressing room.
“I think that runs through the squad and that’s part of my thinking when you bring players in,” he said.
“You don’t just bring big talents in, you research their character as much as you can to have the right types.
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“Because there are always players who think ‘there’s a game next week and I’ll still get my wages’. That’s the mentality we had to get away from.
“I wanted players to come here to push the boundaries, the levels and drive it on from the inside.
“It can’t come just from the outside. With players like Bruno, Edinson and Paul Pogba, I feel I have a dressing room that is driven to success. That makes my job easier – 100 per cent.
“When you talk the talk, you have to walk the walk.”
Curiously, Solskjaer also compared the trio to former club captains Roy Keane and Gary Neville – as well as Ryan Giggs who skippered the side on various occasions throughout his spell at Old Trafford.
“We had players here when I played – Roy Keane, Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs – they drove it on,” he continued.
“When they spoke you knew you had no leg to stand on to argue, because you knew that they did it every single day.
“And that’s what we need from our players. Many of us in the game have been in dressing rooms where people talk – but you think what are you talking about?
“They talk the talk, but don’t really walk the walk.
“Put your money where your mouth is.
“But the players we’re talking about – Pogba and Cavani and Bruno – they’ve been there, they know what it takes and they demand it off their team-mates.”
United are expected to start all four players against Liverpool on Sunday.
The Red Devils haven’t beaten their fierce rivals since March 2018, when a Marcus Rashford brace consigned them to defeat at Old Trafford.
And they’ll be looking to end that recent bad run in the FA Cup, a tournament they’ve not won since 2016 when Louis van Gaal was manager.
Meanwhile, Maguire was full of praise for Pogba after his recent heroics against Fulham.
The 2018 World Cup winner struck a sublime winner at Craven Cottage in midweek, scoring after Cavani had chalked off Ademola Lookman’s first half strike.
And he said: “Paul doesn’t have a weak foot.
“You can see Paul, over the last month or so, he’s starting to get his fitness back and credit to Paul, coming back into the team and doing what he’s doing at the moment is great for us.
“He’s a big part of the dressing room, he’s a big player for us.
“We know he can produce moments of brilliance. For sure, I hope he carries on and I’m sure he will.”