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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer leads Manchester United on to train to London… but where is Alexis Sanchez?

HE has already worked his magic on Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku.

He’s got Marcus Rashford playing like the scare-’em-to-death central striker he always threatened to become.

Now Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hopes a few heart to hearts with Alexis Sanchez will see the Manchester United misfit finally kickstart his Old Trafford career.

When Solskjaer walked back into United charged with putting smiles back on faces and points on the table, not even he could have imagined a start like this.

Five games, five wins — the last two with clean sheets — and a team of mates rather than team-mates who seemed anything but.

Pogba has been the world-class midfielder he actually is, Lukaku looks almost as deadly as the interim manager was in his heyday and Rashford is confident, not cowed.

In every area, United have stepped up a notch, barring one — Sanchez.

Admittedly a hamstring problem stopped him joining the fun until little over a week ago.

Yet his problems since arriving a year ago have gone way beyond a tweaked muscle or strain.

Four goals in 32 games for a man trousering over half-a-million-pounds-a-week is hardly an expected return.

Solskjaer, who took the reins from Jose Mourinho with all the excited gusto of a competition winner, was not about to sugar coat it. Sanchez has been a disappointment. The move has not worked thus far.

But that does not mean it will not in the future. Nobody was more skilled in man-management than Sir Alex Ferguson, whose advice Solskjaer has sought over the past few weeks.

And just as Fergie knew the impact of a few well-chosen words, Solskjaer is equally aware of how valuable a chat can be.

He spent chunks of United’s training break in Dubai this week proving it’s good to talk. Sanchez is high on that to-do list.

Solskjaer said: “We have had quite a few individual chats, both formal and informal.

“That’s just the way I believe in things, because it’s probably easier for them as well to speak to me not in front of a big group.

“That is just the way I have enjoyed being coached as well. I have always loved one-to-one coaching here with chats to the gaffer, Rene (Meulensteen), Carlos (Queiroz), Steve McClaren, Kiddo.

“Every player needs that eye-to-eye connection. They want to know what is expected of them.

“And I want to get to know them, what they think they can give and, of course, Alexis has high standards for himself.

"You demand a lot from yourself and when it doesn’t work — as it clearly hasn’t — it’s difficult to put that confidence on suddenly.

Man Utd fans in stitches as Alexis Sanchez tries to steal Solskjaer's seat after being subbed against Reading

“It’s a fresh start for him with me and Mick Phelan coming in. It’s a new lease of life, maybe. Hopefully we can see the best of him because he is a top player.

“We’ve had the issue with his injury and that’s been the problem. He’s not really had a chance to prove himself.

“It will still take time before we can fairly say with Alexis, ‘Yeah, you’re 100 per cent fit, you’ve got many games on the run, now we expect to see the best level you can perform at’.

“At United there will be speculation, there will be demands, so when you sign big players, you expect them to perform straight away. That’s just something you’ve got to deal with.

“That’s the pressure that comes with the job here. If it doesn’t work, you’ve got to keep trying.”

Solskjaer used the trip to Dubai as a mini pre-season — a leaf he took from Fergie’s management book. It was no sunshine break.

The interim manager said: “We used to do that with the boss — come January we used to have a mini pre-season.

“It is important when you have a full week to do a proper training one.

“But looking at the stats from the five games we’ve played, in every one we’ve had higher intensity than anyone, so I can’t complain.

“We’ve had a focus on going forward quickly. I don’t know what was said before but they’ve had a spring in their step.

“If my boys work as hard as this, it will take a lot to beat us.”

Mauricio Pochettino and his Tottenham side may be about to discover exactly that.

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