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.

 

 

 

 

Europa: Ighalo May Start Against Club Brugge, Says Solskjaer

A file photo of Odion Ighalo. Source: [email protected]

 

 

Manchester United manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, has hinted that former Super Eagles forward, Odion Ighalo, might make the first-11 squad in Thursday’s Europa League match against Club Brugge.

Ighalo, who teamed up with the Old Trafford side from Shanghai Greenland Shenhua on the January transfer deadline day, was a late substitute as the Red Devils powered home to a 2-0 win over Chelsea in their English Premier League tie on Monday.

The 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) top scorer almost made a scoring debut in the tie with Frank Lampard’s men but saw his shot parried by Chelsea goalkeeper, Willie Cabballero.

Ighalo is part of United’s team that travelled to Belgium to face Brugge in a round of 16 Europa League first leg encounter.

Addressing a pre-match press conference, Solskjaer praised the former Watford hitman whom he described as a man who “knows his craft”.

He said, “Well I’m not going to tell the team. But we’re going to have to rotate with all the games we’ve got coming up and he’s one of them that could start. We’ve not 100 per cent decided yet.”

According to the 46-year-old Norwegian, Ighalo is a goal scorer who has shown his skills during training.

“Well, for me, Odion is a different type of striker for us. He is a box striker, he’s a goal scorer. We’ve already seen in training that he really knows his craft.”

Comparing Fernandes To Ronaldo Unfair, Says Solskjaer

 

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said on Friday that it would be unfair to compare new signing Bruno Fernandes to Cristiano Ronaldo.

The 25-year-old followed the path first made famous by five-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo in 2003 when he joined United from Portuguese giants Sporting Lisbon on Thursday.

Solskjaer said that Fernandes would play a part in Saturday’s game against Wolves at Old Trafford, but warned against comparing him to his illustrious compatriot.

“Cristiano is unique so to compare the boy to him is not fair. Obviously we hope Bruno is going to come and have a fantastic career at Manchester United,” he said.

“He is another piece in the jigsaw and I am sure he is going to give us that X-factor that we have been missing at times this season.”

Fernandes said after signing that his “love of Manchester United” started while watching Ronaldo play for the club.

United were finally able to land Fernandes after chasing him for several months and Solskjaer says the Portugal international reminds him of former teammate Paul Scholes with his ability to make goalscoring runs from deep and provide assists.

Fernandes, who will wear Scholes’ old number 18 shirt, scored eight goals and set up six others for Sporting in the Portuguese Primeira Liga this season.

“Bruno is a goalscoring and assisting midfield player, a little bit like Paul Scholes,” Solskjaer added.

“He can strike a ball fantastically and he’s got wonderful technique. He will also get assists from set plays and with his range of passing.”

Scholes won 11 Premier League titles, two Champions Leagues and a host of other medals during two spells with United across the Alex Ferguson era.

“He’s a similar type to Scholes, fiery as well, with the same number on his shirt,” Solskjaer said.

“Bruno can do absolutely everything. He can play as one of three in midfield, as a number 10, he can play in off the wing, he can play in a diamond. But we will give him the time to find his best position.

“Of course we bring him in to play and we believe in him. But we are going to give him time to settle down in a new country and a new league with new teammates.”

Fernandes has arrived with United fifth in the Premier League, six points behind fourth-placed Chelsea who they play in their first game back after the winter break.

United are also through to the Europa League last 32 against Club Brugge and are still in the FA Cup.

Now the transfer window is shut, Solskjaer is ready to focus on the last three months as he tries to salvage a troubled season.

“I’m happy and confident that these players will keep improving. You cannot control results but of course, we are going to fight for a higher position in the league and trophies in the cups,” he said.

AFP

Solskjaer Pleads For Patience After Man United’s Loss To Burnley

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 pleaded for time to get Manchester United back on track after the beleaguered boss and his under-performing stars were booed off and labelled an “embarrassment” following Wednesday’s 2-0 defeat against Burnley.

Solskjaer’s side were rocked by Chris Wood’s first-half opener before Jay Rodriguez scored with a superb strike after the break at Old Trafford.

It was a woeful display from fifth-placed United, who are in such poor form that there will be fresh questions about Solskjaer’s job security in the coming days.

Former United defender Rio Ferdinand, a Premier League and Champions League winner with the club, slammed the performance and called for owners Glazer family to take action to stop the rot.

“Fans are walking out after 84 minutes! It’s an embarrassment. People at the top need to look and see this and make changes,” Ferdinand told BT Sport.

“The downward spiral in this short space of time, it’s only seven years, has been remarkable.”

Solskjaer had no complaints about a result that laid bare everything wrong with a rudderless team lacking steel in defence, creativity in midfield and a cutting edge upfront.

“We have got to hold our hands up and say it wasn’t good enough. In the first half, we created some half openings but we were not sharp enough to take our chances,” Solskjaer said.

“The boys have given everything they have got but they are experiencing this period for the first time in their lives.

“When you are at Manchester United you are playing at the biggest and best club in the world. Some of them have played 10, 12, 15 games and it’s not easy for them.”

United trail six points behind fourth-placed Chelsea but, given how they have struggled so often this season, the only surprise is that the gap isn’t bigger.

United’s tally of 34 points is their lowest after 24 matches of a top-flight season since 1989-90 and the majority of Old Trafford was on its feet when chants of “stand up if you hate Glazers” echoed around the ground.

 ‘Mentally tired’ 

Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward was also subjected to abusive chants in a toxic atmosphere, while those few fans who remained in the stadium booed Solskjaer and his players at full-time.

But Solskjaer is still adamant he can turn the tide if he is given time to develop United youngsters like Mason Greenwood and Brandon Williams.

“I’m going to back them and help them get through this. The players are giving everything, they have done absolutely fantastic so far this season but they know it wasn’t good enough tonight,” Solskjaer said.

“The boys looked mentally tired towards the end, we didn’t find that creativity. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves.

“When you are at Man United you are privileged because you are playing for the best club in the world. Sometimes you go through periods like that and it is a test I am sure they are going to come through.”

United must regroup to avoid more misery in the FA Cup fourth round against Watford or Tranmere on Sunday before they head to Manchester City looking to overturn a 3-1 first-leg deficit in the League Cup semi-finals next Wednesday.

If United are knocked out of both cup competitions, Solskjaer is likely to find the patience of supporters who idolised him during his playing days will dwindle even further.

The gap between United and runaway leaders Liverpool stood at 30 points after Sunday’s defeat at Anfield and there is no sign of Solskjaer bridging the divide any time soon.

Aware the pressure is mounting, Solskjaer is keen to make signings to bolster his injury-hit squad, with leading scorer Marcus Rashford and star midfielder Paul Pogba both sidelined.

“We are looking to improve, we have got our targets. This is our second defeat at home and first since August. I thought we had turned that corner,” he said.

“We have started a clear-out and now I am going to be answering these questions until the window closes. We are working on things.

“For me, the most important thing is we have to perform on the pitch. Tonight wasn’t good enough for a Manchester United team.”

AFP

Solskjaer Defends Team Performance Against Liverpool, Plays Down Neville’s Criticism

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 has contradicted former team-mate, Gary Neville, by saying on Tuesday United are on the “right track”.

Outspoken TV pundit Neville had said in a podcast after United’s 2-0 defeat at leaders Liverpool on Sunday, which left the Red Devils 30 points behind their rivals in the Premier League, the club was in a mess.

The former United captain pinned much of the blame for the team’s current problems on the recruitment undertaken by chief executive Ed Woodward.

But with United still fifth in the league and competing in three cup competitions, Solskjaer believes it is not the right time to start a blame game.

“We’ve just lost to Liverpool, who you all say are fantastic and we have been in the game until the last kick of the ball,” he said at his press conference on the eve of United’s Premier League game with Burnley on Wednesday.

“For me, that is strides forward.

“The signs are there that we’re on the right track, definitely.

“For me, now is not the time to talk about recruitment.

“We are always looking to improve the squad, so now is not the time to start that discussion, Gary.”

Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer throws the ball back in 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

Fighting for the fourth place — the final Champions League spot — is not what is expected of a club of United’s stature, but the manager remains confident they are doing things to rectify that.

“We know we’re not where we want to be and should be, historically,” he admitted.

“It’s down to us to work better and from my experience, in the 12, 13 months I’ve been here, the players that I’ve brought in have been good, so I have no complaints whatsoever.”

Rashford’s ‘new injury’ 

On the pitch, United will give Marcus Rashford all the time he needs to recover from a double stress fracture to his back.

Rashford picked up the injury in the 1-0 win over Wolves in the FA Cup replay last Wednesday and will miss at least three months.

The England striker, who has scored 19 times for United this season, had been monitoring his back following the away match at Burnley on December 28, but Solskjaer says it was not a previous injury.

“Marcus will be out for a while, but he will get the time he needs to recover,” he said.

“He’s not had that injury before.

“He complained a little bit after the last time we played Burnley.

“We managed him as well as we could then.

“He had some days off for treatment, we took him off in some games and then suddenly this was a new injury.”

Solskjaer must now decide whether to make a late move in the transfer window for a striker to cover for Rashford’s absence.

If he cannot bring anyone in, the Norwegian will look to 18-year-old Mason Greenwood and veteran midfielder Juan Mata — who scored the goal that knocked Wolves out of the FA Cup — to try and plug the gap.

“Mason will get more chances now and Juan will have to step up again,” he said.

“We know we’re stretched with the injuries we’ve had but we’ll cope with that.”

AFP

I’m Not Expecting Rashford In Next Few Weeks, Says Solskjaer

 

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer does not believe top scorer Marcus Rashford will be fit to return from a back injury for a number of weeks.

Rashford was forced off less than 15 minutes after coming on as a second-half substitute in an FA Cup third-round replay win over Wolves on Wednesday and was absent for United’s trip to Liverpool on Sunday.

However, Solskjaer revealed the England international is unlikely to return before United’s mid-season break at the start of February.

“He’s got a couple of knocks, jolts against Wolves,” Solskjaer told Sky Sports.

“He aggravated his back (and) had trouble before. (We need to) give him time to recover and rest before we put him back on the pitch.

“I wouldn’t expect him to be back in the next few weeks. We have a mid-season break and I’m not sure are going to see him before then, no.”

United face either Watford or Tranmere in the FA Cup fourth round, travel to Manchester City for the second leg of their League Cup semi-final — trailing 3-1 from the first leg — and host Wolves in the Premier League in the next two weeks.

Solskjaer’s men then have a 16-day period to rest and recuperate thanks to the Premier League’s first-ever winter break before travelling to Chelsea on February 17.

AFP

Maguire Named As New Man Utd Captain, With Young Set For Exit

Manchester United’s English defender Harry Maguire gestures at the end of the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Norwich City at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on January 11, 2020.
Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has confirmed Harry Maguire as Manchester United’s new captain less than six months after his £80 million ($104 million) move from Leicester.

Maguire will take over as skipper from Ashley Young, who is expected to complete his move to Inter Milan pending a medical on Friday.

“Harry has come in and been wearing the captain’s armband and he will keep wearing it,” said Solskjaer.

“He has been a leader in the group and I have not been surprised but impressed with his leadership skills.”

Solskjaer cast doubt on Marcus Rashford’s hopes of shaking off a back injury for Sunday’s clash with Premier League leaders Liverpool.

Rashford made a brief appearance in the midweek FA Cup win over Wolves, which may have cost him his chances of figuring at Anfield.

Solskjaer said: “We’re going to give him the absolute amount of time but I am not going to hold my breath.

“I would think that he probably wouldn’t be ready but he’s still got 48 hours so let’s see.”

AFP

Man United Can Still Compete With The Best In Transfer Market, Says Solskjaer

Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer/ AFP

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Manchester United retain the power to compete at the top end of the transfer market despite warnings their status as the Premier League’s richest club is “at risk”.

According to Deloitte’s Football Money League, United’s revenue of £627.1 million ($814 million) in 2018-19 put them third overall behind only Barcelona and Real Madrid.

But the consulting firm warned United could soon find themselves slipping behind Liverpool and Manchester City due to their failure to qualify for the Champions League.

Solskjaer offered a robust defence of the club’s status on Tuesday, speaking ahead of his side’s FA Cup third-round relay against Wolves.

“The most important thing for me is we get the results sorted and the performances on the pitch,” he said.

“But I know that we’ve got the resources, we’ve got the backing. If we need to go into the transfer market we are still up there so we’re still in a good place.”

United are reportedly in talks over a deal for Sporting Lisbon midfielder Bruno Fernandes, who could cost as much as £70 million, though Solskjaer offered no update on that or any other moves in the January market.

Wednesday’s match against Wolves at Old Trafford could offer another opportunity for 18-year-old striker Mason Greenwood, who started in the goalless draw between the two sides at Molineux on January 4.

 Greenwood warning 

Greenwood has enjoyed a hugely impressive season to date, scoring nine goals for United‘s senior side in 26 appearances but Solskjaer cautioned against England taking him to Euro 2020, with concerns over the availability of the injured Harry Kane.

“I think Mason will have a top career, a long career, but let the boy settle in now before we talk about England and the Euros,” he said.

“His focus has to be playing for us and improving. When he plays well for us, that will happen by itself.”

Solskjaer is trying to carefully manage the demands on his younger players, and his squad as a whole, as they prepare for their 14th game in 46 days.

“It is physically and mentally demanding and we’ve got to make sure we energise them with results,” he said.

“After a performance like Norwich (a 4-0 win) they all felt good about that and used that as motivation.

“We’re not there yet, we’ve got to keep working and improving, just keep the rhythm. I didn’t play in all these games when I was playing but I felt like, as a team, we improved when we got in a rhythm of match, rest, match, rest.

“The likes of Roy (Keane), Gary (Neville), (Paul) ‘Scholesy’, they only seemed to improve and we need to get to that.”

With United well off the pace in the Premier League and needing to overturn a 3-1 first-leg deficit to rivals Manchester City in the semi-finals of the League Cup, Solskjaer is looking to the FA Cup as the most realistic prospect of silverware this season.

“This tournament is one that we all dream about winning when we’re young,” he said. “I loved my time in the finals and lifting the trophy, so we want to go through.”

AFP

Solskjaer Hails Rashford After United Thrash Norwich

Manchester United’s English striker Marcus Rashford (R) scores their second goal from the penalty spot during the English Premier League football match against Norwich City at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on January 11, 2020. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

 

Marcus Rashford marked his 200th appearance for Manchester United with two goals in a 4-0 win over Norwich on Saturday, leaving his manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer predicting he can get even better.

Anthony Martial and impressive teenager Mason Greenwood were also on the mark as Solskjaer’s team maintained their hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League through the league table.

But those prospects may depend on the continued fitness of Rashford, who was substituted after less than an hour and was declared doubtful for Wednesday’s FA third-round replay with Wolves due to injury problems.

Solskjaer admitted he will have to handle Rashford’s fitness carefully and little wonder given that the 22-year-old has now scored 19 times in his past 23 games for United and England.

“What an achievement, to get to 200 games at his age,” said the Norwegian boss. “I don’t know how many goals he has scored but he has 19 (for United) this season and he’s been absolutely top class to work with.

“He’s a great kid, great attitude, he wants to learn, wants to improve but knows he has to keep his feet on the ground but is always available even though today he is carrying quite a few knocks.

“He’s played many, many games, I might have to look at how we manage him but of course he can get so much better. He’s got everything to be a top-class player.”

– Rampant Rashford –

Rashford now has 64 goals in his United career, with the 63rd of those coming in the 27th minute after largely unrelenting home pressure, although the goal owed everything to a fantastic assist from Juan Mata.

The Spanish playmaker received a long pass from Victor Lindelof and, after Todd Cantwell backed off a little too far, had the space to float in a perfect cross which Rashford volleyed in at the far post.

David de Gea was required to make a superb save late in the first half to keep their lead intact, diving well to claw away a curling shot from Cantwell.

But that was a rare lapse from a United side that dominated for the bulk of the game and should have been enjoying a more comfortable cushion by the interval.

That finally came with two goals in quick succession early in the second half, with Rashford heavily involved in the first of those, playing a ball into the area for Brandon Williams to chase.

The young full-back won a penalty after a rash challenge from goalkeeper Tim Krul.

United had missed four of their previous eight penalties this season — two in their win at Norwich before Christmas — but Rashford made no mistake on this occasion with a firm strike into the bottom right-hand corner.

The Reds did not have long to wait for a third as Williams played a quick, short corner to Mata whose cross was headed in brilliantly by Martial, who rose powerfully amid a crowded six-yard area to head firmly past Krul.

It was the second assist of an impressive afternoon for Mata, with Norwich’s outplayed midfield and immobile defence having no answer to his skill-set.

“When you get Juan facing forward he can pick those passes and put crosses in, he was excellent,” said Solskjaer.

Williams himself should have continued the rout moments later, missing an open net from three yards, before substitute Greenwood finally produced that fourth after 75 minutes, driving a left-foot shot past Krul from the edge of the area.

AFP

United Won’t Make Panic Buys, Says Solskjaer

Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer arrives back on the pitch for the second half of the English League Cup semi-final first leg football match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England on January 7, 2020. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insists Manchester United will not look for short-term solutions in the January transfer window just to guarantee his job security.

Solskjaer will not countenance bringing in players if they do not fit in with United’s long-term plan.

His squad has been stretched by injuries and a gruelling schedule and they have not won any of their three matches so far in 2020.

Those weaknesses were brutally exposed in the 3-1 defeat by Manchester City in the first leg of the League Cup semi-finals on Tuesday to once again put the spotlight on Solskjaer.

United struggled in the absence of injured midfielders Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay.

However, Solskjaer refuses to discuss the idea of any stop-gap signings.

“I am not going to protect myself,” Solskjaer said ahead of Norwich’s visit to Old Trafford on Saturday.

“I am here to do what I think is best for the club and what I feel is best.

“I would never, ever, ever, put myself before the club. This is Manchester United and there is no I in Manchester.

“I could never do that. That is not me. I am working and managing for Man Utd.

“Myself and Ed (Woodward) are having conversations all the time about how we are going to look in one month, in five months and in a longer period.

“He knows my feelings and I am very happy working with these players we have.”

– ‘Due diligence’ –

Despite the shortcomings United have shown this season, they are still just five points adrift of fourth-placed Chelsea, who occupy the final Champions League qualification spot.

The right signing could make all the difference in reaching Europe’s elite club competition next season.

Yet Solskjaer is firm in his belief that any newcomer must adhere to the values and qualities that United want.

“We are building towards something, but I am sure the fans are bored listening to me talk about what we do have as a vision and a plan,” he said.

“It doesn’t change from September 1 to now. That is impossible to change.

“You wouldn’t put yourself in a position now that you do something that you regret in 18 months.

“So we have to do due diligence on players’ quality and character to make it the right fit into this squad.”

After the defeat by City, United striker Marcus Rashford admitted his team were only playing at 50 percent of their current potential.

Solskjaer was reluctant to go that far, but he cites Rashford, who has scored 14 goals in his last 19 games for United, as proof of what can be achieved.

“We didn’t perform really well for long periods in that game, that’s for sure,” he said.

“I don’t think it was a half performance but I know where Marcus is coming from.

“We know the potential of how we can perform and sometimes we don’t reach that.

“But Marcus is an example of how well this team has improved and how much it is improving.”

AFP

‘I’m Not In Medieval Times’, Solskjaer Dismisses Van Persie’s Criticism

United Seek To Derail Liverpool Title Bid
Manchester United’s Norwegian caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gestures during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at Wembley Stadium in London, on January 13, 2019. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has hit back at criticism of his management style from former Red Devils striker Robin Van Persie, saying: “I’m not in medieval times.”

The Dutchman felt Solskjaer appeared too upbeat in the aftermath of the 2-0 defeat to Arsenal on New Year’s Day that left United five points behind fourth-placed Chelsea in the Premier League.

Van Persie said Solskjaer “seems like a really nice guy” but that the Norwegian needed to be more “mean at times” and “more angry” and added: “You need to have fear as well for your coach.”

Solskjaer, who is also having to handle fresh speculation surrounding the future of star midfielder Paul Pogba, said Van Persie was not in a position to judge his methods.

“I don’t know Robin and Robin doesn’t know me,” he said ahead of his side’s FA Cup third-round tie away to Wolves.

“He probably doesn’t have a right to criticise my management style and I won’t change. That’s definite. Robin took my number 20 (shirt) and that’s probably all he’s going to take from me as well. Because I’m not in medieval times.”

The “medieval times” remark was perceived to be Solskjaer defending his man-management methods, which appear far removed from the more autocratic approach of his old United boss Alex Ferguson.

Solskjaer was also asked about criticism of the club in general from Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola.

The Italian is reported to have told La Repubblica he would stop sending his clients to United, saying they would “ruin” even a great player.

Coming in the context of a fresh injury setback for Pogba, who will be out for three to four weeks after surgery to remove bone fragments from his ankle, the comments have been interpreted by some as Raiola seeking to engineer a move away from Old Trafford for Pogba.

“Paul Pogba is our player and agents are hired by players, not the opposite way around. It’s not ‘agents’ players’, it’s ‘our players’,” said Solskjaer.

“What me and Paul are talking about I don’t have to talk to you about. That will be between us.”

United travel to Molineux on Saturday to take on the team that knocked them out in last season’s quarter-finals.

AFP

Man United In Full Support Of Pogba Operation, Says Solskjaer

Manchester United and France midfielder Paul Pogba gives a press conference in Tours, central France, on December 29, 2019.  AFP

 

Manchester United were in full support of the decision that led to Paul Pogba undergoing ankle surgery, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said on Friday.

The Norwegian boss appeared to suggest after the New Year’s Day defeat to Arsenal that Pogba’s “people” had recommended the surgery, raising questions over how much input the club had in the decision.

The French World Cup winner made his comeback after nearly three months out with an ankle injury in a 2-0 defeat at Watford on December 22 and also made an appearance off the bench in a 4-1 thrashing of Newcastle four days later but has since been sidelined again.

Speculation continues to surround the 26-year-old, who has been regularly linked with a move away from Old Trafford and whose agent, Mino Raiola, has been scathing about the club in comments made in the Italian media.

But Solskjaer was keen to play down any suggestion of a disagreement regarding the injury, and said: “Paul came back after a long spell out, (featured in) a few games, had a reaction, didn’t go to Burnley.

“He felt his ankle was sore, we did a scan. It’s not the same injury, it’s a different injury. Of course when you get that scan you consult your own medical people as well, like I did. He wanted a second opinion and the advice was to have it done.”

On the injury, Solskjaer added: “It’s not a major one and probably, as I said, three or four weeks.

When asked again about why he had suggested it was Pogba’s “people” behind the decision to undergo surgery, he added: “As in when you consult your surgeon and the ones you trust.

“That’s maybe my bad English — you have people you trust and you speak to. When I had my injuries, knee operations, I had my people in Norway and Sweden that I spoke to and Paul obviously has people as well that he trusts, and that’s important.”

Wolves FA Cup test 

Solskjaer’s team face Wolves in the FA Cup third round at Molineux on Saturday, having been dumped out of the competition by them in the quarter-finals last season.

“They’re not going to make it easy for us,” he said.

“It’s the fourth time at Molineux since I’ve been here and we haven’t won yet. Liverpool lost there last season, City have just lost there so we have got to earn the right to win there. We’ve got to perform and go there positive.

“We want a reaction after the defeat against Arsenal, which everyone says was such a bad, bad performance. But in my mind it was a good game by two good footballing teams.”

Eighteen-year-old Mason Greenwood, who started and scored in the Boxing Day win at home to Newcastle and came off the bench at Arsenal, could be in contention.

“He’s grown a lot. He’s mentally and physically more robust which of course you expect from an 18-year-old,” Solskjaer said.

“He’s had more or less 12 months with us now and he’s grown fantastically, his confidence and performances in the top games. He’s played a lot of cup games and done well.”

Solskjaer also confirmed that reserve goalkeeper Sergio Romero would play at Molineux.

AFP