Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insists Donny van de Beek will be an important player for Manchester United this season despite having a bit-part role so far.
United’s new £40million signing from Ajax has made just two starts, in the Carabao Cup against Luton Town and Brighton, while his appearances off the bench total 61 minutes in the Premier League and a two-minute cameo in the Champions League.
The Dutchman didn’t even come on in Saturday’s goalless draw with Chelsea, prompting former Holland striker Marco van Basten to suggest that he will live to regret moving to Old Trafford.
Donny van de Beek has endured a quiet star to his career at Manchester United after his move
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has hit back at critics over his decision to use Van de Beek sparingly
Speaking ahead of United’s second Champions League group game at home to RB Leipzig, Solskjaer promised that the 23-year-old will have a lot more game time throughout the season.
‘Donny is going to play a big, big part this year,’ said the United boss. ‘At the moment, I realise the topic is Donny van de Beek and it’s nice for some players or commentators to have a little go.
‘I know you’re short for time when you’re on telly and you have to put your points across very quickly, but you have to know that you don’t have to start the first three games to be a very important player in the squad.
‘I’d be disappointed if some of my team-mates said I wasn’t important at Man United, but I didn’t start many games. So Donny’s going to be very important for us, don’t worry about that.
‘When Donny has played, he’s played really well. I think it says a lot about our depth of quality in the squad that we don’t have to use him every single game because we have other players as well.
‘I also think it says everything about our ambitions. We want to push on, we want to challenge for trophies this season.’
Van Basten hasn’t been the only former footballer to question Van de Beek’s move to United, with Patrice Evra also having his say.
Van de Beek was an unused substitute for United vs Chelsea on Saturday in Premier League
After being left on the bench again in the goalless draw against Chelsea, Evra said: ‘We’re talking about Van de Beek, nothing against the kid, but why have we bought him?
‘He’s watching the game from the stand every game. We don’t need him, that’s the truth.’
Evra then took to Instagram a couple of days later to clarify his comments on Van De Beek – claiming his comments were misunderstood and accused some people of twisting his words.
It isn’t the first time recently that Solskjaer has hit back at former United players, after issuing a staunch defence of Mason Greenwood after coming in for criticism about his professionalism.
United are said to have spoken to Greenwood over his discipline, specifically being late for training on several occasions.
Solskjaer made the difference for United so many times from the bench under Alex Ferguson
The 19-year-old striker was left out against Newcastle and Paris Saint-Germain, while coming on as a late substitute against Chelsea.
The latest reports over Greenwood’s attitude followed his expulsion from the England squad after he and Manchester City star Phil Foden met up with two girls at the team hotel in Iceland.
However, Solskjaer was quick to give Greenwood his support prior to last weekend’s game at home to Chelsea.
‘We have a great tradition and history of bringing our players through,’ said the United boss.
‘That means from early on you get good habits, we trust you and you express yourself. Mason has come through this programme, he’s done fantastic and will be kicking on I’m sure. He’s a very exciting boy to work with.’
Asked if Greenwood has made a target of himself, he added: ‘You do when you play well. I’m not concerned at all with Mason making a target of himself.
Van De Beek will be desperate for minutes against RB Leipzig in the Champions League
‘He came in, played fantastic, played his first league game against Tottenham last season and was brilliant and just kicked on. Yes, he’s made a mistake for England.
‘He’s a fantastic boy to work with. He’s never, ever late for training. He’s never a problem when he’s at the training ground. He’s always on time.
‘We’ve got photographers outside the training ground every day so they can see he’s on time every day.
‘He’s got a good family behind him, he’s got a good background in the academy and he’s a good trainer. He trains really well.
‘I’ve seen some ex-United players talking about him and they don’t know what they’re talking about. That’s something we have to deal with. Many other players at United have had that.’
Former United striker Dimitar Berbatov was among those to have expressed concern over Greenwood’s conduct.