Saturday Sep 19, 2020. 13:00
Former Nigerian attacker Victor Ezeji believes Odion Ighalo’s Manchester United career has been hampered by a lack of faith in him from manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Ighalo, who joined United on loan in January 2020, impressed by scoring five goals in eight appearances in the UEFA Europa League and FA Cup, though he never had the chance to play more than 20 minutes in a single Premier League match in 2019-20.
Ighalo remains on loan at Old Trafford until 2021, but Ezeji believes he could have sealed a permanent move had Solskjaer shown more faith in him.
“Every coach believes in his starting XI and to be very fair to Ighalo, the Covid situation did not help him, because if not for Covid, [Marcus] Rashford would still have been out until the end of the season,” Ezeji told Goal.
“And when Rashford recovered, because of the belief Ole has in Rashford, he had to bring him back into the team.
“And then you can see that [Anthony] Martial was firing on all cylinders, same as [Mason] Greenwood, so there was no way Ole was going to drop any of those guys for Ighalo.
“But where I will fault Ole is that even when these guys are not meeting up in some games, I think he should have tried Ighalo.
“It wasn’t really nice that a player’s contract was renewed and you didn’t even allow him to play up to 20 minutes of any Premier League game. That is not encouraging. It makes a player lose all the confidence he has built over time.”
Ezeji added, “If Ighalo was still having regular games to play, probably his confidence would have grown and probably Manchester United would have even tried to buy him permanently, but that didn’t happen.
“Ighalo had to cut down his wages just to be in Manchester. I think he has achieved his dream of playing for them, but now it’s for him to look elsewhere.”
United will begin their 2020-21 Premier League campaign with a match against Crystal Palace this evening.