Solskjaer Backs Southgate Over Axing Of Greenwood


DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

 

Greenwood and Manchester City’s Phil Foden were omitted from Southgate’s squad on Thursday after being sent home from Iceland last month for a breach of coronavirus rules.

Ignoring the pandemic protocols, Greenwood, 19, and Foden, 20, invited local women back to the England team hotel.

“Mason is one of the top strikers of the future for England and for sure he is going to play many games for England,” Solskjaer told reporters on Friday.

“This now obviously has been a learning curve for him.

“Mason has to reflect on where he’s at and what he needs to do, how to get to where he wants to get to.”

Amid criticism from frustrated fans, United continue to be linked with a number of players in the final few days of the transfer window, most prominently Borussia Dortmund’s England international forward Jadon Sancho.

But Solskjaer refused to be drawn on why the club have so far failed to land more of their major targets, with Donny van de Beek the only arrival so far.

“I’m not going to go into the transfer window now because of course my focus is on Sunday’s game (against Tottenham) but the club’s always working hard to have the strongest possible squad,” he said.

“If something happens in or out you’ll get to know.

“We’ve got players here that we believe in. The transfer window is still open for a little while and the club has been working. They know my view and we’re here to strengthen in the long term.”

Solskjaer and Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho, the Norwegian’s immediate predecessor at Old Trafford, have traded barbs in the run-up to this weekend’ Premier League clash in Manchester.

Mourinho pointed to the number of penalties United have been awarded and Solskjaer made a dig about Spurs’ bye in the League Cup because of a spate of coronavirus cases at their opponents, League Two club Leyton Orient.

“We are in strange times at the moment and sometimes you’ve got to have a bit of fun,” said Solskjaer. “It’s just a couple of innocent comments.

“For me, Jose is a very charismatic coach. You in the media enjoy talking to him and I’ve enjoyed watching him. He’s a winner.

“I’m not one of those that really goes into all the mind games. I’ve got ultimate respect for him as a coach and of course the results and everything he has given football.”

-AFP

Solskjaer Asked England Not To Pick Greenwood Before COVID-19 Breach

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. The game finished 2-2.
Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer revealed he asked England not to pick Mason Greenwood before the Manchester United forward was withdrawn from the squad after breaching coronavirus protocols.

Greenwood and Manchester City’s Phil Foden were forced to fly home from Iceland earlier this month after they were caught mixing with local women in the England hotel.

The pair had just made their England debuts in the Nations League victory over Iceland when video footage emerged of their breach of the bio-secure bubble which had been set up to avoid contact with the virus.

England boss Gareth Southgate admitted he couldn’t understand their behaviour and axed them from the subsequent match in Denmark.

But United manager Solskjaer defended Greenwood and said he warned England that the 18-year-old needed a rest before the start of the new season.

“Yeah, of course I speak to Mason and I’ve spoken to Mason,” Solskjaer said. “Of course, what we speak about and discuss will be between the two of us.

“The kid had a fantastic season. He’s just come through. You come to the end of the season and we’ve had less than two weeks off and he’s called up to the national team.

“I have to be honest enough to say I tried my best to give him a rest over the summer. That the club asked specifically and pointed out that he should have had a rest.

“He needs it mentally and physically after that season he had. First thing that happens is: one – he’s called up, and two – he’s right there in the press.

“We’ve done whatever we can to protect him and I will keep on helping him. I know that when he comes back into the daily routine of the club and what we do to him, he’ll be fine.”

Greenwood has been training with United after passing coronavirus tests and Solskjaer confirmed the striker is in contention to feature in United’s Premier League opener against Crystal Palace on Saturday.

“Yeah, he’s part of the group. With the testing and Covid protocols, he trained by himself for a little while. We had some tests done and as soon as possible he was with us. He’s a big part of this group,” Solskjaer said.

“This is where he feels at home. He’s not comfortable, we challenge him, we’ve got people looking after him.

“We have to understand he’s an 18-year-old kid who needs managing.”

– ‘Strong character’ –
Earlier in the close-season, United captain Harry Maguire was handed a suspended 21-month sentence by a Greek court after being found guilty of assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest and attempted bribery during an incident on the island of Mykonos.

Maguire denied the offences and has launched an appeal which nullifies the conviction, but the defender still lost his place in the England squad for the Iceland and Denmark matches.

Confident Maguire can focus on football despite the off-field distraction, Solskjaer said: “The process will keep on going. Knowing Harry, he’s a very strong character so hopefully he can put that apart.

“Naturally, as a human being it will be in the back of his mind what’s happened this summer, and apart from that you’ve just got to see how it develops.”

United have spent most of the close-season in an unsuccessful attempt to sign Borussia Dortmund forward Jadon Sancho.

The deal is still not completely dead according to reports, but Solskjaer would only confirm that United are still looking to strengthen after signing just Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek so far.

“You know I can’t say anything about other clubs’ players out of respect to them. I can’t speculate. But we understand that to get even further; one – we need to develop what we have, two – we’re also looking to strengthen the team, of course we are,” Solskjaer said.

“I’ve been in dialogue with the club. Of course, we’re always discussing and hopefully, let’s see if we can bring anyone in.”

 

 

 

Maguire To Remain Man Utd Captain Despite Court Case – Solskjaer

A photo combination of Manchester United coach, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and captain, Harry Maguire.

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has confirmed Harry Maguire will remain Manchester United’s captain this season despite his involvement in a Greek court case.

Maguire was given a suspended 21-month sentence last month after the England defender was found guilty of assaulting a police officer, swearing, resisting arrest and bribery during an incident in Mykonos.

The 27-year-old has denied the offences and has launched an appeal which nullifies the verdict and means he has no criminal record ahead of a full retrial.

Following the original court verdict, Maguire was withdrawn from England’s squad for their recent Nations League matches against Iceland and Denmark.

However, England manager Gareth Southgate has said would consider bringing Maguire back into the squad for the next internationals.

READ ALSO: Man Utd Captain Maguire Gets Suspended Prison Sentence For Greek Assault

Now United boss Solskjaer has made it clear he will not punish his centre-back by stripping him of the captaincy.

“He’s handled it really well and, of course, I’ll be here to support him,” Solskjaer told United’s website on Saturday.

“He is going to be our captain. We’ll just leave Harry and his people and the process to run.”

Maguire was a key figure in his first season with United following his £80 million ($102 million) move from Leicester, which made him the world’s most expensive defender.

Solskjaer said Maguire had coped well with the incident in Greece, which was allegedly sparked when the player and his family and friends were taunted and attacked at a nightclub.

“Of course, Harry, as you said, had a difficult summer. He didn’t have a long break,” Solskjaer said.

“His break was different to others as we gave him a few more days and, after, he’s come back and looked fine.

“For me, he is a top, an absolute top human being and has always been a positive guy with the right values. So I really hope we can see Harry performing at his best.”

United start their Premier League campaign against Crystal Palace on September 19 after being given an extra week of rest following their involvement in the Europa League in August.

 

 

AFP

Solskjaer Urges Man Utd To Seize ‘Fantastic Opportunity’ In Champions League Push

Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer watches his players from the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and West Ham United at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on July 22, 2020. (Photo by Clive Brunskill / POOL / AFP) 

 

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer urged his Manchester United stars to seize a “fantastic opportunity” to qualify for the Champions League after Mason Greenwood rescued a 1-1 draw against West Ham on Wednesday.

Solskjaer’s side fell behind to Michail Antonio’s penalty in the first half at Old Trafford.

But teenage forward Greenwood struck after the interval to lift United into third place in the Premier League.

They are ahead of fourth placed Chelsea on goal difference after the Blues lost 5-3 at champions Liverpool.

United will finish in the top four if they draw or win in their decisive showdown with fifth placed Leicester on Sunday.

United are one point ahead of Leicester going into their last game of the season at the King Power Stadium.

“When we started after the lockdown, we had to go for it. We had to go for goal difference, we had to go for points,” Solskjaer said.

“The effort has been fantastic and the results have been fantastic.

“Going into half-time we knew that wasn’t the result we wanted. But you can’t expect to turn teams over like we needed to have a different scenario for Sunday.

“We’ve given ourselves a fantastic opportunity and a great starting point for Sunday.”

Solskjaer’s team were well below their best against West Ham, but they are now unbeaten in 13 league matches and will complete an impressive surge into the Champions League if they emerge unscathed at Leicester.

They can also qualify for Europe’s elite club competition if they win the Europa League in August.

Solskjaer will have been relieved there were no costly mistakes from David De Gea after the United keeper retained his place.

The Spaniard made two embarrassing errors that led to goals in United’s 3-1 FA Cup semi-final defeat against Chelsea on Sunday.

West Ham’s point ensured they are mathematically certain to avoid relegation.

After their sluggish loss at Wembley ended a 19-match unbeaten run in all competitions, Solskjaer’s men made a more enterprising start this time and West Ham keeper Lukasz Fabianski was tested twice inside the first four minutes.

Mature Greenwood
Anthony Martial’s stinging strike from just inside the penalty area forced an excellent save from Fabianski, who then plunged to his right to keep out Greenwood’s effort.

Rashford tried his luck from 30 yards, but the forward’s powerful drive was too close to Fabianski, while Greenwood’s close-range shot was blocked by Ogbonna.

De Gea had been a spectator for the first 40 minutes and when he was finally called into action, Antonio’s header lacked the power to trouble him.

But De Gea still had to pick the ball out of the net moments before half-time after Paul Pogba handed West Ham a penalty.

Declan Rice’s free-kick was smashed straight at Pogba, who instinctively stuck up his arms to protect his face.

Despite Pogba dropping to the turf as though he had been hit in the head, VAR confirmed the France midfielder’s handball.

Antonio took the spot-kick, sending De Gea the wrong way for his sixth goal in his last three games.

United had let the first half drift out of their control, but Greenwood dragged them level with another demonstration of his remarkable maturity in the 51st minute.

Dropping deep to exchange passes with Martial, the 18-year-old kept his composure to drill a clinical finish past Fabianski from 12 yards.

No teenager has ever scored more goals in a single season in all competitions for United than Greenwood, whose 17th of the season moved him level with George Best, Brian Kidd and Wayne Rooney.

“He’s bailed us out a few times and he’s done it again,” Solskjaer said.

“He’s been absolutely top class ever since we gave him an opportunity.

“He trusts himself that his talent, his qualities, attributes, they actually work at the highest level.”

 

 

-AFP

Man Utd ‘On Right Track’ As They Hunt Champions League Spot, Says Solskjaer

Manchester United’s Norwegian caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gestures at the end of the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Huddersfield Town at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on December 26, 2018.
Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says his Manchester United side are “getting closer” to the standards demanded at Old Trafford as they focus on reaching the Champions League.

United conceded a late goal against Southampton on Monday to draw 2-2, ending a run of four straight Premier League wins.

The result left Solskjaer’s men in fifth place in the table but they are assured of a top-four finish if they win their remaining games against Crystal Palace, West Ham and fellow Champions League hopefuls Leicester.

The Norwegian boss said his message to his players ahead of Thursday’s trip to Crystal Palace was to keep on doing what they had been doing and “trust yourselves”.

“You’re at a club where it always boils down to the last couple of weeks, or two or three games in the season anyway,” he said at his pre-match press conference on Wednesday.

“We’ve done fantastic since we restarted. We started with the draw against Tottenham of course but then had a great run. That little bit of a setback is a test for mentalities.”

Asked if this was the best Manchester United team since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, Solskjaer said: “I don’t think that’s my job to say… but of course we’ve played some good football, some enjoyable football.

“Now it is about consistency. We know we’re privileged to play for this great club and represent this great club and there’s a certain expectation on how we should play football and we’re getting closer and closer to that type of team.”

Solskjaer said his team, unbeaten in 18 matches in all competitions, had made major strides during the 2019/20 campaign.

“We’ve come a long way in this season,” he said. “I think we’ve hurried this process up by quite a distance with what we’ve done since we started this season.”

Solskjaer steered clear of the debate about Financial Fair Play and the lifting of Manchester City’s European ban this week by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho branded the CAS decision “a disgrace” and Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp said Monday was not “a good day for football”.

The ruling could have an immediate impact on United, with fifth place no longer enough for Champions League qualification, but Solskjaer would not be drawn into the debate.

“With Financial Fair Play, it was brought in to keep football and football clubs financially sustainable and I think that’s important and they also give us rules to adhere to.

“That’s what we’re focusing on and let other people discuss what’s right and wrong and what’s happened.”

 

AFP

I Never Lost Faith In De Gea – Solskjaer

Manchester United's Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reacts during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Bournemouth at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on July 4, 2020. Clive Brunskill / POOL / AFP
Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reacts during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Bournemouth at Old Trafford in Manchester, northwest England, on July 4, 2020. Clive Brunskill / POOL / AFP

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says he has never considered dropping David de Gea “for a one second” as the Spanish goalkeeper prepares to make his 400th appearance for Manchester United.

Signed as a wiry 20-year-old from Atletico Madrid in 2011, the ‘keeper overcame initial struggles to establish himself as one of the best shot-stoppers in the Old Trafford giants’ history.

De Gea was a fax machine error away from joining Real Madrid in 2015 but the goalkeeper is now committed to United until at least 2023 and will make his 400th outing for the club against Southampton on Monday.

The 29-year-old has won United’s player of the year award for four of the six seasons since Alex Ferguson retired but questions over his position continue, with Dean Henderson impressing on loan at Sheffield United.

Yet Solskjaer has retained belief in a goalkeeper he recently called the best in the world, even during a shaky spell last season.

Asked if he had considered dropping him or taking him out of the firing line, the United boss said: “It did not cross my mind for one second. Not at all.

“To be a Man United goalkeeper, you have to have a strong mentality. David has a strong mentality and he has been here for so long.

“He is now going to come up to 400 games and you don’t do that by being afraid of the limelight or being afraid of Old Trafford.”

De Gea usurped Peter Schmeichel’s tally of 398 United appearances in Thursday’s 3-0 win at Aston Villa, with Alex Stepney now the only goalkeeper to have played for the club more.

It will take a while to match his figure of 539 but Solskjaer is convinced the Spaniard has plenty of years in him yet.

“He has come out and said he wants to play many, many more, maybe 10 more years,” said the United boss.

Solskjaer said De Gea, who won the Premier League in 2013, was driven by a desire to win the top trophies with United, who have slipped from their position of dominance in English football since Ferguson left the club.

“I don’t think he’ll be happy until he wins the bigger trophies because staying at Man United in this time and not having won more, I think that’s something that he will feel is a black dot in his career.”

United host Southampton on Monday, with the chance to leapfrog Chelsea and Leicester into third place in the Premier League.

 

AFP

Manchester United Now A ‘Different Team’ – Solskjaer

File photo: Manchester United’s Norwegian caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gestures at the end of the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Huddersfield Town at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on December 26, 2018. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted Manchester United are a “different team” from the sluggish side that started the season after extending an unbeaten run to 17 games with a 3-0 win at Aston Villa.

United became the first team in Premier League history to win four consecutive games by a three-goal margin as Mason Greenwood continued his rise to stardom with another thunderous finish after Bruno Fernandes’s controversial penalty opened the scoring.

Fernandes then teed up Paul Pogba to score his first goal for over a year as United closed to within a point of the top four.

Pogba missed the majority of the season prior to the coronavirus shutdown due to injury, but his return to fitness and the January signing of Fernandes, alongside the emergence of Greenwood, have transformed United’s fortunes.

“He’s a fantastic person, fantastic player, one of the best midfielders in the world,” said Solskjaer on Pogba.

“He’s getting better and better because he’s been out for so long, which is natural.

“You can see he is enjoying himself. The team is a different team to the one he left when he was injured. The focus, the attitude, everything is miles better in that dressing room.”

The impact of the coronavirus outbreak could turn Pogba’s United career around.

Prior to the pandemic, the French World Cup winner seemed set to leave the club for the second time in his career.

But with interest from Real Madrid now unlikely to materialise this summer given the economic impact of the crisis, Solskjaer is hoping to extend Pogba’s contract beyond 2022.

Pogba, meanwhile, wants United to show their form of the last few weeks over the long haul to challenge newly-crowned champions Liverpool and Manchester City for the Premier League title next season.

“We are talking in training that we have to carry on, that’s what Manchester is, it is a big club and the performances the last few weeks are the standard of Manchester,” Pogba told Sky Sports.

“We didn’t win the Premier League, that’s the standard, we didn’t win anything yet so there is a lot of work to do.”

Villa’s winless run stretches to 10 games as Dean Smith’s men remain rooted in the bottom three, four points adrift of safety with just four games to go.

But Smith was furious his gameplan was undone when Fernandes won a penalty despite initiating the contact with Villa right-back Ezri Konsa as he spun just inside the area.

“It unravelled with the first goal,” said Smith. “I can understand (referee) Jon (Moss) getting it wrong but I don’t know what VAR are looking at – it’s a disgraceful decision.

“They have a screen they can go and look at it but they don’t seem to be bothered.”

Fernandes took responsibility from the spot to score his eighth goal for the club.

Greenwood scored powerfully off both feet against Bournemouth at the weekend and showed again why Solskjaer rates him among the best finishers he has ever seen by smashing home his 16th goal of the season on his supposedly weaker right foot just before the break.

United have now scored 14 goals in winning their last four league games and turned on the style after the break.

Pogba was given time to control and measure his shot from Fernandes’s cut-back to arrow the ball into the bottom corner for his first goal since April 2019.

Fernandes then teed up Martial to crash a shot off the underside of the bar and Pepe Reina denied Marcus Rashford from Pogba’s sumptuous pass in stoppage time as United had to settle for three.

“We should have won by five clear goals in all of them!” Solskjaer added when informed of his side setting a new record.

Solskjaer Realistic On Transfers But Keen To Keep Pogba

Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gestures from the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield stadium in Liverpool, north west England on January 19, 2020.
Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

 

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will not seek huge funds for transfers this summer due to the economic realities of the coronavirus crisis, but is keen for the club to tie down Paul Pogba to a long-term contract.

United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has warned it will not be “business as usual” in the transfer market and said during football’s shutdown from COVID-19 that “speculation around transfers of individual players for hundreds of millions of pounds this summer seems to ignore the realities that face the sport”.

The form of Solskjaer’s men since returning to action last month has also suggested United do not need to spend tens of millions in the upcoming window.

The emergence of teenager Mason Greenwood – who has scored three times in his last two games – has helped quieten speculation over a move for Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho.

“There’s got to be realism,” Solskjaer said. “I think the whole world has changed, both financially and the perception that we’ve got on values.

“So every time I put the case in front of Ed, I think it’s a sensible one and it’s a realistic one.

“I think I’ve proven to the club that I’ve always got the club in the front of my mind and the best for the club. I’ll always think long term and try to be making good deals. I’m always quite careful with money, my own personal money as well.”

Pogba’s return to fitness has been a key factor to a run of four wins and a draw from five games since the restart.

The French World Cup winner looked destined to leave Old Trafford for the second time in his career prior to the pandemic.

However, interest from Real Madrid is now unlikely to materialise this summer and Pogba has formed a formidable partnership with Bruno Fernandes in midfield.

Pogba’s contract expires next summer, although United have the option to extend that deal by a further year.

Midfielders Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic have recently penned new deals with the club and Solskjaer is hopeful Pogba will follow suit.

“Of course we want to keep the best players around the club. We want to build a squad for the future.

“Scott and Nemanja, they’re in a similar position but at different stages in their careers. One at the start, one really experienced. We also need players in that mid-range group, so hopefully we can do something.

“I know that since Paul’s come back now he’s looking better and better. He’s just enjoying his football and let’s see where it takes us.”

 

 

-AFP

Angel Gomes Set To Leave Man Utd As Contract Runs Out

Manchester United midfielder Angel Gomes appears to be on his way out of the club. Oli SCARFF / AFP.

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is bracing himself for the loss of teenage midfielder Angel Gomes, whose Manchester United contract expires on Tuesday.

The highly rated 19-year-old came through the academy at Old Trafford and made his debut aged 16 in May 2017, becoming the youngest player since Duncan Edwards in the 1950s to feature for the first team.

But Gomes has only made 10 first-team appearances and contract talks hit a roadblock, with Solskjaer now expecting the United midfielder to leave when his contract runs out.

READ ALSO: EU Trade Chief Hogan Drops Out Of WTO Race

Asked at a press conference on Monday if Gomes would be staying at the club, the United boss said: “I’ve got no news, nothing, so it doesn’t look like it.”

Gomes was part of England’s Under-17 World Cup triumph in 2017 and earlier this month Solskjaer said he was hoping that the teenager would sign a new deal.

Pushed to clarify if Gomes was leaving, Solskjaer added: “To be honest, I’ve not heard from them last night or this morning, so it seems like that they haven’t managed to agree (a deal), so the answer is probably short and ‘yes’ then.”

AFP

Solskjaer Congratulates Liverpool On Premier League Title

Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gestures from the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield stadium in Liverpool, north west England on January 19, 2020.
Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

 

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on Friday congratulated bitter rivals Liverpool on their long-awaited Premier League triumph but said watching other sides lifting the trophy “hurt”.

Liverpool were crowned English champions for the first time in 30 years without kicking a ball on Thursday when Chelsea beat Manchester City at Stamford Bridge.

Liverpool’s 19th title triumph, which sparked wild celebrations around their Anfield home ground, left them one behind United’s record haul.

“First of all, any team that wins the championship and a Premier League deserves it and they deserve credit,” United boss Solskjaer, who won six league titles as a player at Old Trafford, told reporters.

“It’s a hard league to win, so well done to Jurgen (Klopp) and his players.

“For me, every time you see anyone else lift the trophy it hurts. I reckon that’s the feeling everyone associated with Man United — all players, staff, and supporters. Of course, we want to get back to winning ways and that’s our challenge.”

Solskjaer is hoping FA Cup glory can be a springboard for further success, with United heading to Norwich on Saturday in the quarter-finals.

United are fifth in the Premier League, still in the race for a Champions League spot, and are well-placed to reach the last eight of the Europa League.

“I think first of all the FA Cup is a fantastic tournament, and a fantastic final to play a part in, a fantastic trophy to lift,” said Solskjaer.

“For our team, it’s a new team, and to get hands-on a first trophy and win a first title would be fantastic and hopefully a catalyst for more things to come.”

Solskjaer plans to rotate his squad at Carrow Road, where Jesse Lingard will feature, having yet to play a minute since the restart.

“Jesse has come back after the lockdown with a smile on his face, loads of energy,” he said.

“Unfortunately, last week he fell ill for a couple of days but we’ve done all the tests and he’s fine, so he’ll be involved against Norwich now and hopefully he can kick on.”

 

 

-AFP

Solskjaer Hails Under-Fire De Gea As ‘World’s Best’ Goalkeeper

 

Manchester United’s Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea throws the ball out during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Leicester City at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on September 14, 2019.
Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insisted goalkeeper David de Gea is still “the best in the world”, during a passionate defence of the Manchester United star after he was heavily criticised for his performance against Tottenham Hotspur.

United face Sheffield United on Wednesday as Solskjaer’s side line up at Old Trafford for the first time since winning the Manchester derby on March 8.

The Reds marked their opening match since the coronavirus lockdown with a 1-1 draw away to Spurs in the Premier League on Friday but De Gea was heavily criticised by former United skipper Roy Keane for letting Steven Bergwijn’s shot slip through his fingers.

United manager Solskjaer, a former Old Trafford team-mate of Keane, defended his goalkeeper, however, during a pre-match press conference on Tuesday.

“David is the best goalkeeper in the world,” he said.

“He’s conceded two goals in the last seven games he’s played for us. There’s two games against City, Chelsea, of course Tottenham, Everton. Two goals in seven games, we’ve gone on a run not conceding goals.

“The Everton one is a freak one, maybe. This one, he cannot save it. He makes great saves, he wins games for us.”

De Gea is set to start against the Blades, when Dean Henderson will be unable to face his parent club due to the terms of his loan deal.

The 23-year-old goalkeeper has shone for Sheffield United this season and was being touted as a potential starter for England before Euro 2020 was postponed due to the pandemic.

The Norwegian boss said Henderson would one day be the number one for Manchester United and England, hailing his performances for the Blades.

“He’s learning all the time. He’s a passionate keeper that wants to be the best so he’s developing, he’s got good coaching there,” said Solskjaer.

“I think one day he’ll be England number one and Man United number one and it’s up to him to keep developing.”

Solskjaer expects Henderson’s Bramall Lane loan to be formally extended before Tuesday’s deadline, but was unable to offer an update on Angel Gomes’ future.

The 19-year-old has yet to agree a new deal with United.

“For me, I’ve not spoken to anyone last night or this morning,” Solskjaer said of the teenage midfielder, whose deal expires at the end of the month.

“So the paperwork and the admin, the meetings that are going on, I can’t really update on that.”

-AFP

Solskjaer Hopes Ighalo Will Stay With Man Utd

In this file photo taken on December 28, 2019 Manchester United's Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer salutes the travelling Manchester United fans at the end of the English Premier League football match between Burnley and Manchester United at Turf Moor in Burnley. Oli SCARFF / AFP
In this file photo taken on December 28, 2019 Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer salutes the travelling Manchester United fans at the end of the English Premier League football match between Burnley and Manchester United at Turf Moor in Burnley. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said on Tuesday he hopes January signing, Odion Ighalo will stay at the club should the Premier League season restart next month.

Former Super Eagles forward, Ighalo, was signed from Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua in January, but his short-term deal expires at the end of May.

Despite United’s interest in extending Ighalo’s stay, Shanghai are reportedly keen for him to return to China for the start of their season.

“The loan deal went to the end of May now, so obviously he’s supposed to be going back,” Solskjaer said.

“We’re in dialogue and hopefully (he can stay). They’ve been great towards us, his club, and allow him to play for his dream club.

“It’s been a dream for him and hopefully he can finish off what he started, maybe with a trophy or two.

“But at the moment nothing’s been agreed yet. Their league is going to start soon so we are just waiting to see.”

Ighalo scored four goals in three starts and made eight appearances in total for United

Meanwhile, Solskjaer said he is confident of having Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford fit if the league resumes next month.

Pogba has missed the majority of the campaign with an ongoing ankle injury, while Rashford seemed set to miss the rest of the season when he suffered a double stress fracture in his back in January.

United returned to training in small groups last week and preparations are expected to be ramped up further for a return to action when Premier League clubs vote on resuming contact training on Wednesday.

“Hopefully now we’ve proved we can do this safely and we can move to the next step. It’s been really enjoyable being on the training ground again,” said Solskjaer.

“They (Pogba and Rashford) are looking good, they’ve joined training now and they’ve done everything the other boys have been doing. No reaction so far, touch wood.

“When we get started, it looks like we can have a full squad to choose from.”

The return of both players could be a major boost to United’s hopes of ending the season on a high in three competitions.

Solskjaer’s men were three points off the top four in the Premier League when play was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic in March.

The Red Devils are also still in the hunt for silverware in the FA Cup and Europa League, which UEFA hopes to complete in August.