Neil Humphreys: Look out for Solskjaer’s Boys
Greenwood, James and Wan-Bissaka are the face of Manchester United's tomorrow
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer mentioned Sir Alex Ferguson's name so many times when he was interim manager that it began to sound like product placement.
And it was. The Norwegian was trying to place himself alongside the greatest Manchester United product of the last 50 years.
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The ploy worked. Solskjaer got the full-time gig. Now he needs to prove he's worthy. At the National Stadium tomorrow night, there must be echoes of Fergie's Fledglings.
From the Class of 92 to the new recruits of 2019, a spiritual umbilical cord has to be established between the two.
The kids on show at Kallang can't just be all right. They're expected to drag a gloomy icon back into the light. They will make or break Solskjaer's career.
He promised a return to Fergie's way, a return to youth, speed and width. He has now added all three to the senior squad.
Youth, speed and width are also known as Mason Greenwood, Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
At the National Stadium, United fans will come for Paul Pogba and David de Gea. But they should stay for Greenwood, James and Wan-Bissaka. The club's future rests with the young ones.
Greenwood already comes equipped with sky-high expectations. He's the Boy Wonder among established superheroes, the one the senior pros keep watching on their phones.
United academy staff recorded the 17-year-old striker's goals and the footage impressed so many that first-teamers attended youth games just to watch the kid in the clips.
Greenwood is almost a myth before he's a man. He's still tackling puberty and yet his greatest cheerleader happens to be his manager.
Solskjaer picked him in United's final league game, that feeble 2-0 defeat by Cardiff City, but Greenwood rose above the drudgery around him.
He also scored against Leeds United on Wednesday and will almost certainly feature at Kallang. His manager insists that Greenwood can expect game time in the new season - and demands goals in return.
Solskjaer seems willing to bet Romelu Lukaku on Greenwood's potential, preparing to sell one to promote the other.
Greenwood brings youth to an ageing squad, but James brings speed, the kind of speed that suggests he's running on a hidden travelator.
He gave United 50 odd reasons to be cheerful in the friendly against Leeds. He ran 50 odd metres without appearing to touch the turf.
James' subsequent shot clipped the post, but no one associated with United cared. The 21-year-old has speed.
Speed is what we need to make United watchable again. Last season, the static Devils seemed to be working on a football tableau.
But James has brought his roller skates. United legend Bryan Robson has already compared the winger to Ryan Giggs, an obvious but unfortunate comparison considering the pressure already lumped on the young man's shoulders.
He also brings extra width, along with Wan-Bissaka, 21.
The most expensive of the trio, Wan-Bissaka is a £50-million (S$70m) statement from the manager. Solskjaer has lavished a vast sum on the mere promise of youth, speed and width.
The right-back embodies the sort of footballer that once ruled at Old Trafford. Like Denis Irwin and Gary Neville, Wan-Bissaka is a feisty tackler, but equally adept in the opponents' half.
He provided the assist for Greenwood's goal against Leeds.
He's also taking on a poisoned chalice. Since Neville's retirement, United's right-back position turned into a revolving door of unsuccessful applicants.
Wes Brown, Rafael da Silva, John O'Shea, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Matteo Darmian, Antonio Valencia and even the fitful Diogo Dalot have all conspired to show what an unsung hero Neville really was at Old Trafford.
After nine years of trying, United believe they have finally found Neville's proper replacement in Wan-Bissaka.
And Solskjaer believes he is fulfilling his obligation to United's past by sending out three for the future. Wan-Bissaka, James and Greenwood should all play a part against Inter Milan.
The National Stadium usually sells out for boy bands. Tomorrow night, a full house will find out if United's kids can make the leap from boys to men.
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