Donny van de Beek exploded with frustration in the Manchester United dugout as he was left on the bench for a sixth time this season during the side’s dramatic 2-1 victory over Villarreal in the Champions League.
The 24-year-old midfielder may have fancied his chances of coming into the team in the wake of the Red Devils’ 1-0 defeat at Aston Villa, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer opted for a midfield of Paul Pogba, Scott McTominay and Bruno Fernandes at Old Trafford.
Cristiano Ronaldo was the hero of Wednesday night’s thrilling Group F encounter, squeezing home a stoppage-time winner after Alex Telles cancelled out Francisco Alcacer’s opener with a stunning volley on the hour-mark.
But Van de Beek’s furious reaction as Fred and Jesse Lingard were introduced instead of him in the 89th minute was the hot topic of conversation for many United fans after the match.
After muttering something under his breath, a visibly enraged Van de Beek had to be consoled by fellow unused substitutes Eric Bailly and Dean Henderson.
The out-of-favour Netherlands international then proceeded to throw his gum down in anger in the direction of Solskjaer and assistant Mike Phelan.
And though Van de Beek was later seen celebrating Ronaldo’s last-gasp strike, it’s clear the ex-Ajax man is growing increasingly agitated with the situation he finds himself in at United.
Van de Beek recently spoke with Rio Ferdinand about his stop-start opening 12 months at the Theatre of Dreams and admitted he would prefer to play in a deeper midfield role for the club this season.
Solskjaer has repeatedly talked up Van de Beek’s qualities and, in an interview with Beyond the Pitch, said he was prepared to grant the Dutchman his wish by deploying him in a two-man midfield.
‘Donny has very good qualities,’ the United head coach said.
‘He’s had a disappointing season last year, a disappointing end when he got his injury and stopped him playing for Holland at the Euros.
‘He has worked really hard. He’s waiting to be unleashed and to show what he can do. He can play as a six in a (midfield) two, he can play as an eight as an attacking midfielder, as a 10, we have used him on the wide left coming inside.
‘He is a footballer with many qualities that we like at the club but yes, he can play as one of the two in midfield.’
Just a point against Villarreal would have placed Solskjaer under further scrutiny, with United losing three of their previous four games in all competitions.
But Ronaldo’s late heroics – which saw the Red Devils leapfrog their Spanish opposition into third place in the group – eased some of the pressure on the Norwegian ahead of his side’s Premier League clash with Everton this weekend.
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