United saw off Astana 1-0 in the Europa League on Thursday thanks to 17-year-old Mason Greenwood’s goal in a game which also saw starts for Tahith Chong (19) and Axel Tuanzebe (21).
In an interview on Soccer Saturday, Solskjaer revealed that the Europa League is the perfect competition to see if his youngsters are good enough to make the step up to the Premier League.
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However, the United boss insisted that their introduction to life on the big stage must be careful – especially with the rise of social media – and that the club are offering plenty of background support behind the scenes.
“You learn quite a lot when playing the youngsters,” he said. “You want them to go out and express themselves, to go out and perform so that have a platform to build on. I thought it paid off (against Astana).
“I understand that some of the boys, sometimes they can feel the heat, but I thought they were excellent. Of course we must protect them, find the right moment to put them in. Give them guidance behind closed doors.
“Social media and the media these days is so different. We will try to help and guide them as much as we can. We know the other side of how it was back in the 70s and 80s, it is different now. We have a lot of background support here.
“They’re almost ready (to play in the Premier League). That’s why they’re with us, why they’re training with us and they have done well in training.
“The young boys now – you will see them enough. You will see them in the Europa League, the FA Cup the Carabao Cup and maybe a little bit in the Premier League.
“If we do well in the Europa League we have a chance to win it. In the early stages you can take a few chances, take a few risks, make some subs and give the youngsters a chance.
“I think it’s about time they had some exposure, and see if they are ready to play in the Premier League.”
Speaking more generally of his rebuild of the United squad, Solskjaer heaped praise on his new-look defence, and while acknowledging that they have not been good enough going forward, he said that “sometimes winning 1-0 is enough”.
He also claimed that it would be tough to challenge Liverpool and Manchester City for titles because United are “in the starting phase of a new team” which, again, may allow his young players more of a chance to shine.
“David de Gea has been unbelievable for us in the years he has been here,” Solskjaer added. “We signed Harry Maguire in the summer, a massive signing. Victor Lindelof signed a new contract.
“Aaron Wan-Bissaka is young and up-and-coming. Luke Shaw is young. Axel Tuanzebe is young – we have something to build on there. The foundations are being built from the back.
“We know we haven’t created enough going forward but when we have David in goal sometimes 1-0 is enough for us.
“I want to be a part of us going back to where we used to be, but of course the Premier League is now a different animal. Manchester City and Liverpool last season were fantastic and we are in the starting phase of a new team.
“Many players have been and gone and now there is some youngsters coming in. We are one or two players light at the moment because of injuries but that’s an opportunity for the kids to play and to see if I can get the best out of them.”
‘London Calling’ on Sky Sports
This weekend’s Super Sunday will be focused on England’s capital with ‘London Calling’ taking over Sky Sports. We’ll have two games from London live and exclusive, starting over in the east of the city as West Ham host Manchester United with coverage starting on Sky Sports Premier League at 1pm and kick-off at 2pm. This is followed by a jump across town to west London where Chelsea host Liverpool, with kick-off at 4.30pm at Stamford Bridge.
You can also follow both ‘London Calling’ games on Sky Sports’ digital platforms with live blogs, match reports and expert analysis, plus in-game clips and match highlights shortly after full-time for free across all platforms – there is no need to be a Sky Sports subscriber. Full-time highlights will also be available on YouTube.