Solskjaer Calm About United Future Despite Sackings

Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer leaves after the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Aston Villa at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on December 1, 2019. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says he does not fear for his future as Manchester United manager despite a spate of Premier League sackings as he prepares to face his predecessor Jose Mourinho.

Spurs turned to Mourinho after dismissing Mauricio Pochettino last month, while Arsenal and Watford have subsequently sacked Unai Emery and Quique Sanchez Flores.

READ ALSO: ‘We Didn’t Use Our Heads’, Sarri Berates Players For Poor Performance

Solskjaer is under increasing pressure, with United ninth in the Premier League, 22 points behind leaders Liverpool and eight off a top-four spot as they prepare for Wednesday’s match against Tottenham.

“No, it doesn’t make me more concerned,” Solskjaer said at his pre-match press conference on Tuesday.  “I’m just focusing on my job and that’s just doing as well as I can, and look forward to the next game, and look long-term, plan things with board.

“It’s that time of year. It’s never nice to see your colleagues lose your jobs — three in a very short space of time.

“It’s a game of margins,” he added. “Sometimes you have luck, sometimes you don’t, but it doesn’t make me any more concerned that it’s December.

“I’m good, absolutely no problem. Sometimes you laugh when you read stories about what I’ve said and stuff, at least I know the sources are just made up, blatant lies.”

The United boss bemoaned his team’s failure to turn draws into wins, saying they were not getting the results their football deserved.

The club are winless in three games and Solskjaer’s job will not get any easier with a derby against Manchester City on Saturday to follow the game against Mourinho’s Spurs side.

The Norwegian, though, dismissed any need for crisis talks with the United board.

“Three days or four days are not going to change a whole lot, but these two games are great chances for us to prove things and prove to ourselves that we can continue in the vein we have had against some of the better sides,” he said.

Solskjaer expects Mourinho to receive a warm welcome when he returns to Old Trafford a year after being sacked, having won the League Cup and Europa League during his time in charge.

“We know we have to improve, we are working hard to do that right and when you change a manager halfway through the season (it) isn’t where it is supposed to be,” said the Norwegian.

“I don’t think whoever the manager of the opposition team is will change their motivation (of the players),” he said.

“They are motivated to do well for Man Utd, because they know it’s about improving every day in training and every time you step on that pitch it’s a chance to prove you can be part of this long term. That has always been the case at Man Utd.”

United will still be without the injured Paul Pogba but Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic will be assessed as Solskjaer looks at his midfield options.

AFP

Maguire Frustrated Over United Defensive Lapses

Manchester United’s English defender Harry Maguire (L) vies with Aston Villa’s Brazilian striker Wesley (R) during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Aston Villa at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on December 1, 2019.
PHOTO: Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Harry Maguire is frustrated that defensive lapses are costing Manchester United crucial points after they let slip a winning position for the second consecutive match against Aston Villa.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side were leading 2-1 midway through the second half at Old Trafford on Sunday before a Tyrone Mings equaliser forced them to share the points.

The 2-2 draw left United in ninth place in the Premier League with 18 points from 14 matches, their worst return at a similar stage since 1988/89.

United also conceded a late goal in the previous week in a 3-3 draw against Sheffield United after storming back from 2-0 down to lead 3-2.

“We got ourselves in a great position in the second half (against Villa) and again conceded a sloppy goal really,” Maguire told MUTV.

“As a defender especially, it’s frustrating,” he added. “We haven’t really conceded many chances or goals prior to the last two games and then we’ve conceded five.”

Jose Mourinho returns to Old Trafford for the first time since he was sacked a year ago with a resurgent Tottenham side on Wednesday before United make the short trip to neighbours Manchester City at the weekend.

Solskjaer has to find a way to turn draws into wins, having managed just six victories in 22 league matches since being appointed permanent manager in March.

Maguire believes the quick turnaround from Sunday to Wednesday could help United after their recent disappointments.

“It’s perfect. When you don’t win any football match you want a game as soon as possible to put things right,” he said. “And there’s no better way than to play Tottenham here at Old Trafford.”

AFP

Sheffield Hold Man Utd To 3-3 Draw In Dramatic Comeback

Sheffield United’s French striker Lys Mousset (L) celebrates with Sheffield United’s English midfielder John Lundstram (R) after scoring their second goal during the English Premier League football match between Sheffield United and Manchester United at Bramall Lane in Sheffield, northern England on November 24, 2019.
Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Manchester United and Sheffield United shared the spoils after a dramatic 3-3 draw at Bramall Lane on Sunday, with the home side scoring a late equaliser after three goals from the visitors in seven minutes.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team, outplayed for 70 minutes by the promoted side, trailed 2-0 after a first-half goal from John Fleck and a second-half effort from Lys Mousset.

Chris Wilder’s team were hungrier and more incisive but from nowhere United were back in the game, with 19-year-old Brandon Williams scoring in the 72nd minute.

Manchester United suddenly looked full of ideas and incisive running, with the game turned on its head.

READ ALSO: Lazio Remain Third In Serie A After Sassuolo Victory

Solskjaer threw on Mason Greenwood to replace Andreas Pereira, meaning they were now operating with an attacking quartet of Greenwood, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Daniel James.

Just five minutes after Williams’ strike, Greenwood equalised, finishing from close range after Rashford’s cross.

With the home side rocking badly, United poured forward again and Rashford swept home.

But the drama was still not over, with Oliver McBurnie controlling the ball and firing past David de Gea to level at 3-3. The goal stood after a VAR check.

AFP

Manchester United’s Results Have Hurt, Admits Solskjaer

Unfit United Players Risk Exclusion From Pre-Season Tour, Solskjaer Warns
Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer/ AFP

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s relief at Manchester United securing their first Premier League away win in eight months over struggling Norwich has been tempered by the “hurt” he has felt over their results this season, he told the BBC.

The 46-year-old Norwegian has enjoyed a rare week of good results beginning with a draw against Premier League leaders Liverpool — the first side to take points from the Champions League holders in the league this season.

They subsequently beat modest Serbian outfit Partizan Belgrade away in the Europa League and then rounded if off with the 3-1 victory over hapless Norwich on Sunday.

Victory saw them rise from a lowly 15th in the standings to seventh, albeit 15 points off Liverpool and nine adrift of city rivals and champions Manchester City, who are second.

Solskjaer made a bright start as caretaker manager when he replaced the sacked Jose Mourinho last December but since being given the job permanently has seen the results and performances fall away.

However, he claimed he had not read the increasingly critical press about him.

“The ones that need to trust me and the ones that matter, they don’t mind,” he told the BBC following the Norwich match.

“I have been hurt by the results, I don’t know what has been said.

“I do not care about that, anyone can have their opinion and that is none of my business to comment on, I am not hurting because of what someone says about me.”

Solskjaer was especially pleased to have Frenchman Anthony Martial back in the side — he scored and missed a penalty, one of two United squandered — saying he was pivotal to the style he wanted the team to play.

“This had been a good week for us,” said Solskjaer.

“It started with a decent performance against Liverpool and now two wins away from home. It gives the players confidence and momentum.

“We have missed Anthony, he is a very important player for us, the way we play and today Marcus Rashford was excellent down the sides and in the middle.

“A great response to missing the penalty, chasing back and scoring.

“The third was a very good goal and a class finish.

“It is great for Martial to score a goal like that. We could and should have had a few more goals.”

AFP

Solskjaer Faces Uphill Task To Revive Man Utd – Ex-Captain Bruce

Unfit United Players Risk Exclusion From Pre-Season Tour, Solskjaer Warns
FILE PHOTO: Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reacts after the final whistle in the English Premier League football match against Everton at Goodison Park in Liverpool, northwest England on April 21, 2019. PHOTO: Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer faces a tough job to turn around Manchester United’s fortunes, Newcastle boss and former United captain Steve Bruce said ahead of their clash on Sunday.

United are languishing 10th in the Premier League table after their worst start to a top-flight season in 30 years and have not won an away game in any competition since March.

“I wish him the best of luck. He’s got a hard job ahead of him of course but he’s been given a wonderful opportunity,” said Bruce, who played at Old Trafford under Alex Ferguson.

“We all understand that if you take a manager’s job you’re under pressure from day one and now these days you don’t get time to implement, that’s a thing of the past.”

The Newcastle boss, who has a poor managerial record against his former club, said despite United’s current struggles, his side would still face a tough battle at St James’s Park as they seek to restore pride following a 5-0 drubbing against Leicester last week.

“I don’t think I’ve ever beaten them (Manchester United), which is a worry of course, but I had the privilege to play there for a long, long time. It was a long time ago but they’re one of the great clubs of Europe,” added Bruce.

“To come up against them again is always a special occasion, a big occasion.”

He added: “They might not be Man Utd of the past but they’ve still got some very, very good players so we’re going to have to be at our best, we’re going to have to be a lot better than last week.”

The Magpies have won only once in the league and currently sit just one place off the bottom of the table.

Asked about the criticism he had received since his team’s capitulation at the King Power Stadium, the 58-year-old said: “Mud has been thrown my way since I walked through the door. That isn’t going to change.

“The only thing that can change it for me is results and I’m determined to make it, if I possibly can, to turn it around and take the club forward.”

Lukaku Hits Back At Critics Of His Weight

Inter Milan’s Belgian forward Romelu Lukaku is, however, complimentary on the way Solskjaer handled his exit from Manchester United. Miguel MEDINA / AFP

 

Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku defended his professionalism in the wake of criticism over his weight towards the end of his time at Manchester United.

The Belgian joined Inter in a 65 million euro ($73 million) move earlier this month after two years at Old Trafford.

Lukaku scored 42 goals for the Red Devils, but just 15 of them came last season as he fell down the pecking order once Ole Gunnar Solskjaer replaced Jose Mourinho.

And former Manchester United captain Gary Neville was among those to criticise Lukaku’s physical condition, claiming he weighed over 100 kilogrammes.

“He (Neville) can talk about my fitness but he should never say anything about my professionalism, that I don’t work hard enough,” Lukaku told the BBC.

“That is something he cannot say. All the coaches I have had say the same thing about me.

“What did Ole Gunnar Solskjaer say when I was on the training ground? What did he say? That I always work hard and always do my best to try and improve myself. Same with Jose Mourinho and (Belgium and former Everton manager) Roberto Martinez. Now (Inter coach) Antonio Conte will say it.

“Last year was just a bad year. It happens in football. You just have to move on. I am not going to sit here and react in a negative way.”

Hopes were high that Lukaku could spearhead a new era for United when he joined from Everton for £75 million ($91 million) in 2017, but he left Manchester having failed to win a trophy.

“For me, the Manchester United experience is one I am grateful for – not a good one because we didn’t win and I wanted to win with the club – but they gave me a chance,” added Lukaku.

“I got to play for one of the biggest clubs in the world, so I will always be respectful to them. At the end, I thought it was better for me to move on and try different things.”

Lukaku was particularly complimentary on the way Solskjaer handled his exit.

“Me and Ole tried to work together but at one point I had to be honest with him. He was also honest with me. We found an agreement. I wanted to go. He understood why I wanted to go.

“It is something I will always be grateful to him for. We had a conversation man to man. I told him how I felt and he understood. He will always get massive respect from me and massive protection.”

Alexis Sanchez followed Lukaku’s path by also leaving United to join Inter on a season-long loan deal this week.

United will still pay a large chunk of the Chilean’s reported £400,000 a week wages so keen were they to cut their losses on a disastrous signing.

Sanchez has scored just five times in 45 appearances since joining from Arsenal in 2018, but Lukaku believes the two can form a potent partnership in Serie A.

“He has had a difficult time at Manchester United. Coming here was the right move, in a good dressing room, where the manager wants winners who can really help the team. He is going to be part of that,” said Lukaku.

“He is going to add a lot of competition to the squad we already have. Now it is up to him to show it. I really believe he is going to do well for us.”

AFP

Solskjaer Laughs Off Talk Of Ibrahimovic Return

Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gestures on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Crystal Palace at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on August 24, 2019. Crystal Palace won the game 2-1.
PHOTO: Lindsey Parnaby / AFP

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has laughed off the idea that Zlatan Ibrahimovic could make a shock return to Manchester United.

Ibrahimovic will be out of contract at LA Galaxy in November, once the MLS season has ended, and stated in an interview earlier this week that he would be open to a return.

Romelu Lukaku was sold to Inter Milan, while Alexis Sanchez has joined the Italian club on loan for the rest of the season, and Solskjaer has openly admitted that United are now short in attack.

Ibrahimovic spent 18 months at Old Trafford under previous manager Jose Mourinho and scored 28 goals in his first season in 2016/17.

However, he then suffered a cruciate knee ligament injury and failed to recover his place in the side after Lukaku’s arrival, triggering his 2018 move to LA .

“If Zlatan was 28 at his next birthday, not 38, then maybe,” said Solskjaer. “So that is a big difference.

“Zlatan had a great time here and he is still doing well. It was just unfortunate that he got his injury here.

“I don’t think it will happen. I think he had his time at the club and he has had a fantastic career at the club.

“But he knows my number and if he is serious, I will always speak to Zlatan.”

Big enough

Solskjaer will have to rely on a forward line of Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and 17-year-old Mason Greenwood for goals before the transfer window opens again in January.

But despite the lack of experience in that trio, the Norwegian believes it was the right decision to send Sanchez out on loan to Inter for the season.

The Chilean forward has had a nightmare spell at United, scoring just five times in 45 appearances since his move from Arsenal in January 2018.

“Alexis needed to go,” explained the United manager. “We know he has been here for 18 months and it has not really worked out for him.

“For him to restart and get himself playing regularly and scoring goals, that will only benefit everyone in the end.

“We had a decision to make. I am trusting Anthony, Marcus, and Mason to be our center-forwards.

“For me, it’s time for our boys to feel that pressure and responsibility, to be more robust and to know they have to play five games in a row.

“We’re mentally and physically more ready. That is the next step for our younger players.”

However, Martial will miss Saturday’s trip to Southampton due to injury, while Luke Shaw will be out for a few weeks due to a hamstring problem.

As the transfer window shuts across Europe on Monday, there is also likely to be further movement out of United.

Chris Smalling is on the verge of sealing a season-long loan to Italian giants Roma, and there could be a return to Serie A for Matteo Darmian.

“This opportunity has come up in the last couple of days for Chris,” said Solskjaer. “We sat down and discussed it and at the moment we have six fit centre-backs.

“I couldn’t promise Chris regular football, so he is on the plane over there now.

“I think he will enjoy the experience. It’s a big club, a good league and he will come back stronger and fitter from it.

“I can see Matteo maybe going as there has been some interest in Italy. But Marcos Rojo is definitely staying.

“The squad is less in numbers but we are still big enough and strong enough to have coverage in all positions.

AFP

Solskjaer Confident De Gea Will Remain At Man United

Manchester United’s coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer attends a press conference ahead of the team’s pre-season friendly football matches against Perth Glory and Leeds United at Optus Stadium in Perth on July 10, 2019.
Tony ASHBY / AFP

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said Tuesday he was optimistic that goalkeeper David De Gea would sign a new deal to remain at Old Trafford as Manchester United prepared to face old rivals Leeds in Perth.

United’s pre-season tour of Australia has been overshadowed speculation over the futures of several stars, including De Gea who is in the last year of his contract and has been linked with French champions Paris Saint-Germain.

The Spaniard is reportedly close to signing a new five-year deal with United worth in excess of £350,000 a week that would make him the highest-paid goalkeeper in the world.

READ ALSO: Steve Bruce Named Newcastle United Head Coach

De Gea was rested from United’s pre-season opener against Perth Glory on Saturday but will line up against Leeds on Wednesday to wrap up the Red Devils’ 10-day visit to the Western Australia city.

“He’ll play and hopefully we can agree (on a new deal) with David, as I’ve said a few times,” Solskjaer told reporters.

“That’ll be up to David to announce when that happens, if and when.”

The United boss refused to be drawn on whether Leicester City and England centre-back Harry Maguire was on his way to Old Trafford.

“There’s been loads of speculation but I can’t really say anything,” Solskjaer said.

“There’s a limit of players and whoever performs will be part of the team and whoever doesn’t they will have to fight to get back in.”

After an unconvincing 2-0 victory over a depleted Perth, United will be hoping for a better performance against one-time bitter enemy Leeds.

The rivalry has simmered since Leeds’ relegation from the English Premier League in 2004 but hostilities between the passionate fan bases are still evident with extra security measures being put in place by organisers at Perth Stadium.

Solskjaer said United were excited to renew the rivalry. “Of course you want to have games against the biggest clubs,” he said. “It’s a great occasion for both sets of supporters and the players because there were great games (in the past).”

Romelu Lukaku, who is reportedly looking to secure a move to Inter Milan, is set to play his first pre-season match against Leeds after recovering from a “niggle”. However, Luke Shaw is likely to miss out after suffering a hamstring injury in the match against Perth.

United will have further pre-season games against Inter Milan in Singapore on July 20 and Tottenham in Shanghai on July 25, while Leeds will head to Sydney to face Western Sydney Wanderers.

AFP

No Bid For Pogba, Solskjaer Dismisses Rumoured United Exit

 

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on Wednesday dismissed speculation that Paul Pogba is to leave Old Trafford, saying there had been “no bids” for the midfielder and “agents talk all the time”.

The 26-year-old World Cup-winner’s future has overshadowed United’s pre-season tour since they arrived in Perth on Monday, with Real Madrid and Juventus rumoured as possible destinations.

Mino Raiola, Pogba’s agent, told UK radio station talkSPORT on Tuesday that “everyone knows the willingness of Paul to move on”.

READ ALSO: US Rejoices After Women’s Football World Cup Win

But Solskjaer, who took the reins from Jose Mourinho last December, said it was “business as usual” and warned the club were under no pressure to offload Pogba, or anyone else.

“There are no bids for our players. Agents talk all the time. We are Manchester United, we don’t have to sell players,” he said at a press conference after training ahead of matches in the Western Australia city against Perth Glory on Saturday and Leed United on Tuesday.

“When you’re at Manchester United you expect all these things to pop up in the summer.”

Footage on social media Tuesday suggested Pogba and teammate Jesse Lingard had clashed on the trip, but Solskjaer said there had been no dust-up and that the Frenchman had been on the end of unfair press treatment.

 ‘Top, top bloke’ 

“With Paul, it looks like it’s going to be a media, I don’t want to call it, but it’s an agenda against Paul,” he said.

“He’s a top, top bloke. He’s a great professional. He’s never been any problem.

“Jesse and Paul were walking around and it’s been portrayed as a fight between the two boys. There are no problems between the boys. Pre-season has been very good so far.”

Uncertainty has also surrounded David de Gea’s future but Solskjaer said he was optimistic about the goalkeeper remaining at Old Trafford, despite only one year remaining on his contract.

“David has had a summer where he’s been negotiating and we hope we’re going to get it sorted,” Solskjaer said.

“I’m positive, of course with David I’ve said many times how lucky I am and happy we are to have him in goal.”

United have been linked with Southampton’s Mario Lemina and Spurs playmaker Christian Eriksen among others, but the United manager remained coy on his transfer targets.

“We are still in the market. We are patient. We don’t have to overspend. We want the right players for the right price,” he said.

Solskjaer said he expected Alexis Sanchez, who limped out of Chile’s Copa America third-place play-off defeat by Argentina on Saturday, to be fit for the start of the Premier League season.

After playing the two matches in Perth, United will travel on for further pre-season games in Singapore and China.

AFP

‘Work Starts Now’ For United After Dismal End To Season – Solskjaer

Unfit United Players Risk Exclusion From Pre-Season Tour, Solskjaer Warns
Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer/ AFP

 

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said Manchester United will “take some time” to close the gap to Manchester City and Liverpool after they finished their season with a dismal 2-0 defeat at home by already-relegated Cardiff.

United finished in sixth place in the Premier League, 32 points behind champions City, who accumulated 98 points, edging out Liverpool by a single point.

That gap between Solskjaer’s side and City is wider than the difference of 30 points between United and top-flight winners Leeds in 1973/74, a season when the Old Trafford club were relegated — albeit in an era when teams were awarded just two points for a win instead of the current three.

United finished five points behind fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur, meaning they miss out on qualifying for the lucrative Champions League, which will make it harder to attract top-class players to the club.

“Today was not the problem,” said United manager Solskjaer, who previously had a brief spell in charge of Cardiff, after away fans at Old Trafford on Sunday had chanted he would be “sacked in the morning”.

“You can have all the possession and chances you want but we concede easy goals and not score at the other. That is not where our challenge lies — we have a long and hard way to be where we want to be.”

The Norwegian, who initially oversaw a dramatic upturn in form after he took over from Jose Mourinho in December, said: “It will take some time to close in on the top. We finished five or six points behind third, fourth, fifth and that has to be our aim.

“The top two teams have set a standard higher than before and we have to take up the next challenge.”

The former United striker added: “The work starts now. Everyone has the summer off but we have to come back with a different mentality and different attitude of being a Man United team.

“The ones who played did well but it was not good enough.”

United last won the Premier League title in 2013, in Alex Ferguson’s last season in charge at Old Trafford.

Since then they have finished seventh, fourth, fifth, sixth, second and now sixth again — a far cry from their repeated title triumphs under the outstanding Scottish manager.

They won 14 out of their first 17 games after Solskjaer replaced Mourinho, including a remarkable 3-1 triumph at Paris Saint-Germain to reach the Champions League quarter-finals but have lost eight out of 12 in all competitions since then.

 ‘Back to where we belong’ 

Solskjaer said the past couple of months had been “extremely hard” for the club.

“More or less the only positive from today is that the season is over,” he said following boos from home fans at full-time as United ended the campaign without a win in six matches in all competitions and just two victories from 12 games.

“We meet again on 1 July and we’ll work back to where we belong.

“To reach the leaders it will take a long time. For ourselves, the short-term focus in the league will be getting into the top four.

“We’ve got the Europa League, FA Cup, Carabao (League) Cup to go for a trophy because Manchester United can’t go many years without winning a trophy.

“Jose (Mourinho) won the Europa League last (the last time United won a trophy, in 2017) and that is a realistic ambition.”

AFP

Unfit United Players Risk Exclusion From Pre-Season Tour, Solskjaer Warns

Unfit United Players Risk Exclusion From Pre-Season Tour, Solskjaer Warns
Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reacts after the final whistle in the English Premier League football match against Everton at Goodison Park in Liverpool, north-west England on April 21, 2019. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has told Manchester United’s players they risk being omitted from the club’s pre-season tour if they report back unfit.

United manager Solskjaer has repeatedly expressed his frustration at the fitness levels of his players since he took over in December.

Solskjaer is of the view that United have to be able to match their rivals physically if they are to close the huge gap between themselves and the top of the Premier League table next season.

READ ALSOCity Close To Glory As Liverpool Seek To End 29-Year EPL Title Drought

United are 29 points behind leaders Manchester City going into the final round of league matches on Sunday, with Solskjaer suggesting that even next season, United are unlikely to mount a title challenge.

He feels the key to improvement is to make a fast start and build momentum, which is why he wants his players to return for pre-season training on July 1 in their best possible shape.

United are scheduled to visit Australia, Singapore and China for four matches in July, although their schedule could be disrupted if they are forced to start in the second qualifying round of next season’s Europa League.

They are set to face Perth Glory on July 13, staying in the Australian city to take on Leeds four days later, then moving on to face Inter Milan in Singapore on July 20 and Tottenham in Shanghai on July 25.

That final match will have to move if United finish sixth in the Premier League and Watford win the FA Cup; in those circumstances, Solskjaer’s team would have to start in the Europa League qualifiers in late July.

The United manager, though, is focusing on making sure his players are ready, whatever their schedule.

– ‘It’s not a threat’ –

“The players have all got their programmes to do over the summer. We expect them to be ready to go on July 1 when we start,” he said.

“We’re not going to use the first 10 days to build them up. They should be ready to go. We’ve got a longer summer break than any of the other challengers and we need to use that as an advantage.

“It’s not like a threat, but whoever is not ready on July 1 will probably stay here and not travel with us because we only want players we can use over there.”

Solskjaer is looking to his experienced players to ensure United do not struggle again next season.

“It’s down to me and the coaching staff. We drive this, we lead them on, but we want the players to be the main core of the surge forward, and we’ve got some experienced lads,” he said.

“And we’ve spoken to them to say: ‘We expect you to take charge next year.’ We want them to, because we trust them.

“It’s about getting momentum as well. The start of the season is going to be massive for us. If we can get the momentum early on, I’m sure we can catch a few teams.

“Our supporters know football. They know that teams go in cycles at times. Now it might be the start of a new team and era.”

Solskjaer acknowledged that he faces a big job in bringing success to a club which have not won the Premier League since 2013.

Asked if his was toughest job in football, he said: “It might be, but it’s the best. It’s the best job in football. I cannot imagine any better place to be and any club with more potential.

“Yes, we are behind what we’ve been used to. We’ve had that for some years now. For me, I look at it as a great chance to start rebuilding.”

Solskjaer Certain Of Pogba’s Stay At United Next Season

Manchester United’s French midfielder Paul Pogba reacts after losing the UEFA Champions league first leg quarter-final football match between Manchester United and Barcelona/ AFP

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is confident that Paul Pogba will still be at Manchester United next season but admits he cannot guarantee the French World Cup winner will stay.

Pogba fuelled speculation linking him with a move to Real Madrid last month, suggesting Real were “a dream club for any player”, although he declared at the time he was happy at Old Trafford.

Both manager Solskjaer and United’s board want their £89 million ($115 million) club-record signing to stay, although they have acknowledged that circumstances could change.

READ ALSO: Man City Fighting For Premier League, Says Fernandinho

“You can’t guarantee anything in football but yes I think Paul is going to be here,” Solskjaer told reporters on Friday. “I can assure you that he is very determined to be successful at United.”

Pogba scored eight goals and provided five assists in his first 10 games following Solskjaer’s appointment but his performances have tailed off since, and it was a surprise to many observers that the French midfielder was named in the Professional Footballers’ Association’s team of the year on Thursday.

Former Manchester United midfielder Roy Keane this week described Pogba as a “big problem” for the club, suggesting that he was not committed enough to the team.

But Solskjaer said Pogba can cope with the scrutiny.

“That’s just the standards he sets, because when he’s creating chances, scoring goals, doing loads of work… that’s just media, supporters, everyone looks to Paul. ‘Could you have done better?’

“He’s done fantastic for us, he’s a human being as well and we’re all the same, we want him to do well.

“He’s a leader in that dressing room and on the pitch for us. Back to if I can guarantee, I would say ‘yes, I can guarantee’ but in life, you can never (know), but he will be here as far as I’m concerned.”

Solskjaer, who won 14 of his first 17 matches after replacing Jose Mourinho, initially as caretaker manager, in December, is attempting to turn around an awful run of form, which has seen United’s players widely criticised.

United collapse 

United have gone into freefall, losing seven of their past nine matches, a run that has seen them eliminated from both the Champions League and the FA Cup, and has significantly harmed their chances of finishing in the top four.

United are sixth in the Premier League, three points behind fourth-placed Chelsea, who visit Old Trafford on Sunday.

Solskjaer has promised to stick by Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea for the Chelsea match despite a recent loss of form.

De Gea has faced criticism after making a number of high-profile errors in recent matches, leading to goals in matches against Arsenal, Barcelona, Everton and Manchester City.

The Spain international has not kept a clean sheet in his last 12 matches and is the first United goalkeeper to concede 50 league goals in a season for 40 years.

Former United goalkeeper Gary Bailey suggested this week that the time is right to rest De Gea, but Solskjaer says he has no intention of doing that.

He said: “No, not at all. I trust David and he’s for me been the best player United have had for the last six or seven years.

“He’s been absolutely outstanding and going through tough patches is part of a footballer’s career. David will be fine.”

Solskjaer has also rejected suggestions that De Gea’s contract situation is partly to blame for the dip in form.

The goalkeeper is out of contract in 2020, and there has been reported interest from Paris Saint-Germain.

But Solskjaer said: “That’s something you have to deal with as a footballer. It’s a situation. David’s coming in every single day doing what he should be doing.”

AFP