Ole Gunnar Solskjaer explains late substitutions after Donny van de Beek left scratching his head

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Donny van de Beek was left scratching his head after being brought on in the 87th minute of Manchester United ’s Carabao Cup semi-final defeat to Manchester City.

The Red Devils suffered more semi-final disappointment at the hands of their local rivals as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s quest for a first trophy drags on.

Many expected Dutch midfielder Van de Beek to be handed a fourth straight start in the competition having found Premier League opportunities hard to come by.

But he was left on the bench until the dying seconds, by which time the game was already over with City 2-0 up.

Solskjaer made only two changes and also left it late to bring on Mason Greenwood for Scott McTominay in the 75th minute.

Van de Beek has been left scratching his head after limited opportunities this season
(Image: (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images))

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After his changes raised eyebrows, Solskjaer explained after the game that he was unsure who to bring off in order to make changes as he decided to wait.

Asked why he waited so long to make a substitution, Solskjaer explained at his post-match press conference: “After they scored I felt we took five minutes to get back into the game, into the swing of things, but then we put some more pressure on them.

“We started to build more momentum but just didn’t have that edge, that extra quality to get the goal.

“So it was about who do you put Mason on for, because you know Mason can create something out of nothing.

“But the feeling was that we did put them under some pressure, they did make subs as well, so it was a moment to wait for that one.”

Van de Beek has been left scratching his head after limited opportunities this season

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Speaking ahead of the game, Solskjaer insisted he was pleased with Van de Beek’s performances since arriving from Ajax in a £40million move as he expects him to go from strength to strength.

"Donny has played well when he's had the chance," said Solskjaer. "I think we are too quick sometimes to jump on, 'Oh he's not playing, it's a failure’.

"But with Victor and Fred as examples, it takes a little bit of time and now they are massively important players in our squad, in our team, which will be the same with Donny.

"He has come in and he is in a midfield group there with quality, challenging with Bruno [Fernandes], Juan [Mata] and Jesse [Lingard]. I have loads of No 10s, loads of central midfielders with Paul [Pogba], Nemanja [Vidic], Scott [McTominay] and Fred, and Donny has done well when he has come in.

"He is always ready, he always works hard in training, he's positive and he will make differences in many games for us this season. He will grow more and more for next year."

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