Solskjaer Says He Is Leaving Man Utd In ‘Better State’

File photo: Ex-Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reacts at the final whistle during the English League Cup semi final first leg football match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Ol d Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on January 6, 2021. PETER POWELL / POOL / AFP

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said he hopes to have left Manchester United in a better state than he inherited them three years ago after the Norwegian was sacked by the club on Sunday.

A 4-1 thrashing at the hands of lowly Watford finally saw the axe fall on Solskjaer’s position after the club’s hierarchy kept faith with the 48-year-old in recent weeks despite humiliating home defeats to rivals Liverpool and Manchester City.

“This club means everything to me and together we’re a good match, but unfortunately I couldn’t get the results we needed and it’s time for me to step aside,” Solskjaer said in an interview with United’s in-house media.

“You know what this club means to me and what I wanted to achieve here. For the club, for the fans, for the players, for the staff. I wanted us to take the next step to challenge for the league, to win trophies.”

Solskjaer was handed the job on an interim basis in December 2018 thanks to his legendary status at the club after scoring the winning goal in the 1999 Champions League final to complete a historic treble.

READ ALSO: Man Utd Sack Solskjaer After Dismal Run

After winning 14 of his first 19 matches, he was then handed the job on a permanent deal.

Two seasons of steady progress saw United finish in the Premier League top four in back-to-back seasons for the first time since Alex Ferguson retired as boss in 2013.

But silverware escaped Solskjaer as he lost four cup semi-finals and last season’s Europa League final in a marathon penalty shootout to Villarreal.

Expectations were high of a Premier League title challenge this season after the signings of Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane in the transfer window.

But United have lost five of their last seven league games to fall 12 points behind leaders Chelsea.

“I want to thank the board and the owners for giving me the opportunity because it’s not for everyone and I’ve had the opportunity,” added Solskjaer.

“I’m so honoured and privileged to have been trusted to take the club forward, and I really hope that I leave it in a better state than when I came.

“I think there is potential in this club. We all love the club, and we all want to see it continue.”

Former United midfielder Michael Carrick, who was part of Solskjaer’s coaching staff, will take charge of Tuesday’s crucial Champions League clash against Villarreal.

Solskjaer said he had spoken to the players on Sunday morning to encourage them to prove they are better than they have showed in recent weeks in Spain.

“As I’ve said to them this morning as well, trust yourselves, you know we’re better than this,” he added.

“We’ve not been able to show it but go out, chest out, enjoy being a Man United player, in the Champions League, on the biggest stage. If and when you win the game, you’re through to the next round.

“Michael is going to be in charge. Michael, I have the utmost respect, I love Michael to bits. I’m becoming emotional now because he’s top. They’ll be fine. I’ll watch them and support them.”

AFP

‘Jinxed:’ Four Times Man United Lost Semi-Final Games Under Solskjaer

In this file photo taken on October 16, 2021, ex-Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reacts at the end of the English Premier League football match between Leicester City and Manchester United at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Manchester United sacked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as the club’s manager on Sunday, ending a three-year trophyless stint which saw the Norwegian losing four semi-finals and a final.  

A 1-4 humiliating defeat against relegation-threatened Watford at the Vicarage Road on Saturday, the latest in a string of losses, was the final straw.

The loss left the Old Trafford side seventh on the league log, 12 points behind leaders Chelsea. They are also facing a threat of non-qualification for the Champions League next season.

Before Sunday’s sack, United under Solskjaer had failed to win a trophy, their last being the Europa League they clinched during Jose Mourinho’s reign.

But the former Molde manager did get some near misses during his time with the 1999 European champions.

READ ALSO: Five Potential Candidates To Replace Solskjaer

Here are four times Manchester United lost semi-final encounters under Solskjaer:

2020/21: Man Utd 0-2 Man City (Carabao Cup)

File photo: Former Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reacts at the final whistle during the English League Cup semi-final first leg football match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford in Manchester, northwest England, on January 6, 2021. PETER POWELL / POOL / AFP

 

With the COVID-19 pandemic halting sports globally, the Carabao Cup semi-final was a single-legged affair.

But Manchester United, in their fourth semi-final encounter under the Norwegian coach, crumbled 0-2 in the hands of neighbours Manchester City.

Brazil’s Fernandinho was on song during the game, wrapping up a match that also saw  John Stones getting on the scorer’s sheet.

2019/20: Sevilla 2-1 Man Utd  (Europa League)

Players including Manchester United’s Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea reacts after the UEFA Europa League semi-final football match Sevilla v Manchester United on August 16, 2020, in Cologne, western Germany. Ina Fassbender / POOL / AFP

 

After taking a first-half advantage via a Bruno Fernandes goal. However, they were pegged back just before the break. United missed several chances before Luuk De Jong punished them with a winner with 12 minutes to go. It’s the team’s third semi-final defeat under Solskjaer.

2019/20: Chelsea 3-1 Man Utd (FA Cup)

Chelsea players celebrating after Giroud scored the opener in the FA Cup semi-final win over Manchester United on Sunday, July 19th, 2020. Photo: [email protected]

 

 

The second semi-final defeat for United since the arrival of the club legend ended their 19-match unbeaten streak. It was also the third time in four terms that Chelsea had eliminated the Red Devils from the competition.

 2019/20: Man Utd 1-3 Man City; Man City 0-1 Man Utd (agg 2-3) – Carabao Cup

United’s Brandon Williams leaps high in the air to try to win the ball against Mahrez during the clash. Photo: Manchester United.

 

In a classic display for Pep Guardiola’s men, Manchester United blew away Solskjaer’s boys, taking a massive 3-0 lead under 30 minutes.

English striker Marcus Rashford got a consolation goal for United in the second half in the first leg encounter.

In the second leg encounter, Manchester United won 3-2 but that was inadequate to see them through to the final.

Solskjaer Says Struggling Man Utd Should Enjoy Pressure

Manchester United's Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gestures on the touchline during the English FA Cup quarter-final football match between Leicester City and Manchester United at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on March 21, 2021. Leicester won the game 3-1. Oli SCARFF / POOL / AFP
File photo: Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gestures on the touchline during the English FA Cup quarter-final football match between Leicester City and Manchester United at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on March 21, 2021. Leicester won the game 3-1. Oli SCARFF / POOL / AFP

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says the intense pressure he and his struggling stars are under can make Manchester United a better team as they seek to rescue their faltering season.

United travel to Watford on Saturday licking their wounds after four defeats in their past six Premier League matches, including chastening home losses to Liverpool and Manchester City.

They are sixth in the table, five points adrift of the top four and nine points behind leaders Chelsea.

“We know the poor run of form puts ourselves under pressure but that pressure should be a joy, it should be something that makes us a better team and makes every player perform at their best level,” Solskjaer said at his pre-match press conference on Friday.

READ ALSO: [Alleged Rape] Man City Defender Mendy Charged With Two More Counts

File photo: Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (R) consoles Manchester United’s French midfielder Paul Pogba (L) on the pitch after the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on May 13, 2021. Liverpool won the game 4-2. Michael Regan / POOL / AF

 

The Norwegian was asked directly if he felt safe in his job as action resumes following the international break.

“The players, the staff, myself, and the club, we are all working towards one goal and that’s for this team to improve and get better results,” Solskjaer said.

“The fans are still supporting the team and the club. They’ve been through this period and backed this team through the rebuild.

“You know when you lose a game you’re always disappointed and under pressure. We’ve communicated well and openly and honestly.

“There’s one game now that matters but also there’s what goes on after that. We’re all refreshed, this week has been really good in training and we’re ready for tomorrow.”

Responding to reports that Jesse Lingard’s contract talks had broken down, with the England midfielder looking to leave United, Solskjaer said: “Jesse is training really hard, really well, and he’s ready and available for me. Definitely, he’s disappointed he hasn’t played more of course.

“With regards to his contract situation and the talks, I’ve not been in those very closely. For me, Jesse is still part of this squad, an important part, and he gives energy and quality to the group every day.”

AFP

Solskjaer Under Fresh Pressure As Norwich Fire Farke

File photo:  Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gestures on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on October 24, 2021. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) /

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is under renewed pressure after Manchester United were outclassed 2-0 by Manchester City on Saturday as Norwich sacked manager Daniel Farke despite their first Premier League win of the season.

Struggling Burnley struck late to draw 1-1 at Chelsea while Eddie Howe watched a 1-1 draw from the stands in Brighton as Newcastle edged closer to appointing a new boss.

Two weeks after their embarrassing 5-0 humiliation at the hands of Liverpool, United were again palpably second best in a limp display at Old Trafford.

Eric Bailly’s own goal and Bernardo Silva’s strike on the stroke of half-time proved the difference but goalkeeper David de Gea made a string of saves to prevent another drubbing.

United have won just one of their past six Premier League games, giving Solskjaer — and club bosses — plenty to ponder during the international break.

Last week’s 3-0 win at Tottenham gave Solskjaer hope his team had turned the corner and a late Cristiano Ronaldo goal earned them a valuable Champions League point against Atalanta in midweek.

The Norwegian admitted his men, who finished second behind City in the Premier League table last season, were well below par.

But despite the string of poor results, he said he did not feel he was on borrowed time at the club, trophyless since 2017.

“I have good communication all the time with the club and that’s very upfront and honest about the situation,” Solskjaer told Sky Sports.

“I work for Man United and I want the best for Man United and of course as long as I’m here I want to do what I can to improve this.”

City deservedly took the lead in the seventh minute when Bailly sliced Joao Cancelo’s cross into his own net.

De Gea kept the marauding City attackers at bay but was at fault for their second when Silva stretched a leg to meet Cancelo’s cross and the United stopper allowed the ball to squirm into his own net.

City boss Pep Guardiola praised his team after the win, which lifted them above Liverpool to second in the table and to within three points of Chelsea.

“The best way to silence Old Trafford is to have the ball with a lot of passes and attack the box in the right moments and we did that,” he said. “We played a really good game.”

READ ALSO: Barca Blow Away Three-Goal Lead Against Celta Vigo

Farke Fired 

Norwich sacked Farke just hours after they beat Brentford 2-1 to register their first three points of the season following their return to the Premier League.

“We feel that now is the right time for a change to give ourselves the best opportunity of retaining our Premier League status,” sporting director Stuart Webber said in a statement.

Farke — the fourth top-flight managerial casualty this season — gave no indication of his fate when speaking after Saturday’s win, hailing the “spirit and belief in this dressing room”.

On the pitch, Chelsea were frustrated as Matej Vydra’s late equaliser ended the European champions’ four-match winning run despite 25 shots from the home side.

The Blues led through Kai Havertz’s first-half header and were 11 minutes away from moving five points clear at the top before Vydra stabbed home from close range.

“Of course I’m disappointed,” said Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel. “If we played this game 100 times, we’d win 99 times. Today we didn’t win it.

“The second goal would have decided it. It’s always possible you miss one ball, one cross, and this can happen.”

Newcastle, who edged back above Norwich after their draw at Brighton in the late kick-off, are understood to have agreed a deal in principle with former Bournemouth manager Howe to take over at St James’ Park, more than two weeks after Steve Bruce’s exit following a Saudi-led takeover.

But despite the enormous resources at his disposal, Howe faces a huge task just to keep the northeast club in the English top flight.

Crystal Palace are up to ninth after Wilfried Zaha and Conor Gallagher scored in a 2-0 win over Wolves.

AFP

Ronaldo And Cavani’s Experience Key To Win Against Spurs – Solskjaer

A photo combination of Ronaldo and Cavani.

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said the experience of Cristiano Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani was key to Manchester United’s 3-0 win at Tottenham on Saturday as they bounced back from a humiliating 5-0 thrashing by Liverpool six days ago.

After a week of intense speculation over his future, Solskjaer got all his major calls right as Ronaldo and Cavani, at a combined age of 70, both scored after being paired up front together for the first time.

A switch to a back three, aided by the return of Raphael Varane from injury, also helped Solskjaer’s men register just a second clean sheet in 22 games.

“We’ve built this performance on hard work, discipline and keeping the ball away from our goal,” said Solskjaer.

“We worked on this this week. The boys were brilliant, they took it on board.

“Raphael Varane is a top player. He reads the game well. He’s quick and so experienced. To get him back is massive for us.”

READ ALSO: Spurs In Advanced Talks With Ex-Chelsea Boss Conte

The signings of Ronaldo, Varane and Jadon Sancho were expected to turn United into title challengers this season.

Instead, they are eight points adrift of Premier League leaders Chelsea after 10 games, but did move up to fifth thanks to a first league win in five games.

The impact of Ronaldo’s arrival on the balance of the team has been questioned.

But there is little doubting the five-time Ballon d’Or winner’s finishing as he volleyed in his seventh goal in 11 games since returning to the club, to settle United’s nerves.

Ronaldo then turned provider for Cavani to double United’s lead with a deft chip over Hugo Lloris in the second period.

“The experience came through,” said Solskjaer. “I was told that’s the oldest team I’ve picked for Man Utd and it was time for it.

“I’ve been here three years and Tuesday’s training performance by Edinson Cavani was the best training performance anyone has put in here.

“They played well together, they have loads of respect for each other. We have loads of talented players but they have to learn from those two. The work rate they put in, the quality they put in is second to none.”

However, Solskjaer was keen to stress that one good performance will not erase the stain of last weekend’s record home defeat to their bitter rivals.

“That’s always going to be in the history books – one of the darkest days. A dark spot on our CV,” added Solskjaer.

“We’ve got a hard week again. Champions League game then (Manchester) City. We’ve got to digest this one and be ready for Tuesday (against Atalanta).”

AFP

Solskjaer Defends Decision To Rest Ronaldo After Everton Slip


Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (L) shakes hands with Manchester United’s Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo as he comes off the substitutes bench during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Everton at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on October 2, 2021. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said he did not regret resting Cristiano Ronaldo after Manchester United let two more Premier League points slip away at Old Trafford as Everton emerged with a 1-1 draw on Saturday.

United missed the chance to move top of the Premier League and needed a late VAR call in their favour to avoid a second consecutive home league defeat.

Yerry Mina’s late winner for the Toffees was ruled out by a review for offside after Andros Townsend’s excellent equaliser had cancelled out Anthony Martial’s opener for United.

Solskjaer’s decision to start Ronaldo on the bench will be questioned as the Red Devils have now won just two of their last six games in all competitions.

But the manager defended that call and his side’s start to the season as they moved level on points with Liverpool and one ahead of champions Manchester City before those two teams clash at Anfield on Sunday.

“You make decisions throughout the season, you’ve got to manage the players’ workload,” said Solskjaer. “The decision was, for me, the correct one today.”

“We have started better than last season, but it is still not what we wanted.”

Ronaldo’s heroics deep into stoppage time against Villarreal on Wednesday saved United from having a mountain to climb to reach the knockout stages of the Champions League.

But Solskjaer did not risk the 36-year-old with a third start in a week as he took his place on a star-studded bench alongside Jadon Sancho and Paul Pogba among five changes.

Martial’s inclusion was the surprise with Jesse Lingard and Donny van de Beek also left on the sidelines.

The Frenchman struggled to impress in his few previous outings this season and missed a glorious early chance when he mistimed his jump for a free header at the back post.

But Martial made amends two minutes before half-time when he latched onto a Bruno Fernandes pass to fire beyond Jordan Pickford thanks to a slight deflection.

READ ALSOMessi Suffers First PSG Defeat In Loss At Rennes

Everton Level After Ronaldo Introduction 


Everton’s English striker Andros Townsend (C) celebrates scoring his team’s first goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Everton at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on October 2, 2021. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Solskjaer called on Ronaldo and Sancho 10 minutes into the second half as he sought to put the game beyond Benitez’s men.

But it was Everton who struck to expose United’s frailty on the counter-attack.

Demarai Gray won the ball on the left and freed Abdoulaye Doucoure into acres of space in midfield, the latter played in Townsend to fire home his fifth goal in nine appearances for the club.

“We need to be better at when to risk it and how not to be counter-attacked,” added Solskjaer. “We did have enough players behind the ball, we made a couple of bad decisions which cost us in those 10 seconds.”

Solskjaer responded by adding another creative threat, bringing on Pogba for Fred.

United’s trio of star substitutes nearly rode to their manager’s rescue as Ronaldo and Pogba fired narrowly off target from Sancho passes.

Yet, only a matter of inches saved United from a second home league defeat in eight days after Aston Villa’s 1-0 win at Old Trafford last weekend.

Mina tapped home from a Tom Davies cross, but the Colombian had just strayed offside to United’s relief.

“We can be happy with one point but it could have been better,” said Benitez, who has made a fine start to life as Everton boss.

“Davies saw the position of Yerry and he thought it was a better position. You cannot blame him (for not taking on a shot), he was in the right position it was unlucky for some centimetres it was offside.”

AFP

Solskjaer Blames Klopp For Man Utd Getting Fewer Penalties

File photo combination of Klopp and Solskjaer

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer claims Manchester United are being given less penalties since Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp questioned the number of spot-kicks awarded to the Old Trafford outfit.

Solskjaer was furious after Cristiano Ronaldo was denied two strong appeals for a spot-kick in a 2-1 win at West Ham in the Premier League last weekend.

The Hammers got their revenge by knocking United out of the League Cup on Wednesday with a 1-0 victory, but Solskjaer’s men again felt hard done by when Jesse Lingard was not awarded a penalty.

Back in January, Klopp erroneously claimed United had been awarded more penalties in Solskjaer’s two-and-a-half years in charge than his first five years at Anfield.

“We just have to hope that we get what we deserve. We should have had three pens in the last two games,” Solskjaer said on Friday.

“I don’t know, but there was a certain manager last year who was starting to worry about us getting penalties and after that it seems like the decisions are more difficult to give. I’ve seen a big, big difference since then on.

“But we just have to leave it up to the refs and hope that they will make the right calls very soon.”

With another opportunity for Solskjaer to end his wait to win a trophy as United boss having slipped by, there is even more pressure on United to challenge for the Premier League this season.

United sit level on points with leaders Chelsea and Liverpool with 13 points from their opening five games, thanks in part to Ronaldo’s flying start since returning to Old Trafford.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner has scored four goals in three games and Solskjaer has no concerns about the Portuguese being a marked man ahead of Saturday’s clash with Aston Villa.

“Cristiano has been used to that ever since he came to the club, but maybe more so in say the last 15 years of his career,” he said.

“His first few years, I think everyone wanted to try to kick him because they wanted to stop him, and then he became such a top player that all the teams would have to have an eye on him.

“His record shows already what an impact he has had with us and he is ready for that challenge. He’s so used to it, so no worries.”

AFP

Ronaldo To Make Second Man Utd Debut Against Newcastle

A cardboard cut out of new signing Cristiano Ronaldo is held by Manchester United supporters during the English Premier League football match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Manchester United at the Molineux stadium in Wolverhampton, central England on August 29, 2021. Oli SCARFF / AFP
In this file photo, a cardboard cut out of new signing Cristiano Ronaldo is held by Manchester United supporters during the English Premier League football match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Manchester United at the Molineux Stadium in Wolverhampton, central England on August 29, 2021. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has revealed Cristiano Ronaldo will make his first Manchester United appearance since his blockbuster move from Juventus when Newcastle visit Old Trafford on Saturday.

Portugal superstar Ronaldo returned to United in a shock transfer just before the transfer deadline.

The 36-year-old striker, who left United to join Real Madrid in 2009, has been training with his new team-mates for the past few days.

United manager Solskjaer confirmed on Friday that Ronaldo would play at least some part in the Premier League clash with Newcastle but it remains to be seen whether the five-time Ballon d’Or winner will start or come off the bench.

“He’s been having a good pre-season with Juventus, he’s played for the national team, he’s had a good week with us here,” Solskjaer said.

“He will definitely be on the pitch at some point, that’s for sure.”

Ronaldo won three Premier League titles and the Champions League during six trophy-laden years with United, before going on to shine with Real and Juventus.

His status as one of the world’s all-time greats is unquestioned, but initially it seemed United would miss out on a reunion with their former star when Manchester City moved to sign him.

Ronaldo said his relationship with former United manager Alex Ferguson played a key role in convincing him to return to Old Trafford.

Solskjaer, who played with Ronaldo during his first spell at the club, said: “Of course we’ve followed his career from afar since he left here and I think everyone’s very happy to have him back.

“He can speak for himself but he seems like he’s happy to be back as well.

“The mood’s been very good, he’s worked well and we’re looking forward to Saturday, of course.”

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‘No place to hide’ 

Fergusson retired from Manchester United in 2013. Photo: Instagram/Manchester United.

 

Ronaldo’s return to Manchester came after Solskjaer had already strengthened his squad with swoops for England forward Jadon Sancho and France defender Raphael Varane.

United will be expected to challenge champions Manchester City for the title after such a productive transfer window.

Solskjaer believes Ronaldo will add a higher level of quality to the squad, both physically and mentally, as they look to win the first trophy of the Norwegian’s reign.

“We have grown as a group the last few years. The determination, the desire, the focus has improved over time and bit by bit,” he said.

“Even like bringing Raphael (Varane) in, he’s come in with a winner’s mentality, an unbelievable focus.

“Then of course Cristiano comes in as well and there’s no place to hide when you’ve got winners like them. You can’t go into training and give 95 percent or not being focused.”

As a former Manchester United player, Newcastle boss Steve Bruce appreciates what an emotional afternoon it will be for Ronaldo and the club’s supporters on Saturday.

“The goals he’s scored at every club he’s played for is quite remarkable,” Bruce said.

“That, quite rightly in my opinion, makes him the best player in the world. It’s a terrific signing by Manchester United.

“It’s quite an incredible story of him going back and I’m sure they could have sold out Old Trafford 10 times over if they wished.”

AFP

Depleted Man Utd Will Relish Leipzig Champions League Decider, Says Solskjaer

Manchester United's Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reacts on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on November 1, 2020. Paul ELLIS / POOL / AFP
File photo: Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reacts on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on November 1, 2020. Paul ELLIS / POOL / AFP

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Manchester United’s players will rise to the occasion as they head into their make-or-break Champions League clash at RB Leipzig without Edinson Cavani and Anthony Martial.

After losing 3-1 at home to Paris Saint-Germain last week, United are level on nine points with the French champions and their German opponents ahead of the final round of games in Group H on Tuesday.

United will qualify if they avoid defeat to Leipzig, where the Red Devils will be without attackers Cavani and Martial after they sustained knocks in Saturday’s 3-1 comeback win at West Ham.

An unwanted Europa League campaign awaits if they falter against last season’s Champions League semi-finalists, but Solskjaer believes his players will step up.

“The players are here, they are Man United players because they have qualities that we’ve looked for and I’m sure that tomorrow night will prove that’s the reason why they’re here, they will show it,” said Solskjaer.

“I think the character of the group is getting better and better and we’re looking forward to the game.”

United, who last won the Champions League in 2008, can take heart from their striking away form this season.

– Away form –
The three-time European champions have won eight out of their nine away games, coming from behind to triumph in all five of their Premier League games on the road.

“It’s something that we want, games like this,” said the Norwegian boss, who famously scored the winning goal for United in the 1999 Champions League final.

“It’s a tradition for Man United — we never make it easy for ourselves.

“Of course we look at the games, especially the away game against Istanbul (Basaksehir) that we could have got three points, but that’s just the way we do things.”

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United’s task at the Red Bull Arena will be made tougher by the absence of three first-team players.

Fred is suspended following last week’s red card against PSG, while attackers Cavani and Martial have not travelled after sustaining knocks at the London Stadium.

“David (De Gea) is back again, Luke (Shaw) is travelling,” Solskjaer said of his 23-strong travelling squad “Edinson and Anthony, they’ve only minor niggles but they won’t be making the trip.”

Solskjaer’s side have struggled to match their away form at an empty Old Trafford, although they did romp to a 5-0 victory at home against Leipzig.

“You can’t ignore it,” the United boss said of that stunning October win. “Of course it’s a game that we’ll remember fondly because we did many things right — and we need to do lots of things right again.

“But we should also correct the few wrongs that we had and we will. We’ve prepared well. We know Leipzig well enough to know that they’re unpredictable in their shape or systems but we know the players and the style they play in.”

AFP

Winning Europa League Would Be My Proudest Moment In Life – Solskjaer

In this file photo taken on January 13, 2019 Manchester United’s Norwegian caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer applauds the fans following the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at Wembley Stadium in London.  Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would love Manchester United to round off the coronavirus-affected season by winning the Europa League which he says will be the proudest moment of his life.

United travel to Germany on Sunday for the climax to the competition with Monday’s quarter-final against Danish outfit FC Copenhagen a launch-pad Solskjaer hopes for lifting the trophy on August 21.

A potentially tougher semi-final looms with either AS Roma or Sevilla.

Having already fallen short in two semi-finals this term — losing to Manchester City in the League Cup and Chelsea in the FA Cup — the Norwegian wants to go the whole way.

“I am ambitious — and one of my dreams is to lift the trophy as a manager for this club,” said Solskjaer as cited in the British media. “That would be the proudest moment of my life.”

File photo: Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (C) substitutes Manchester United’s English midfielder Jesse Lingard during the UEFA Europa League last 16 second leg football match between Manchester United and Linzer ASK at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on August 5, 2020. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

 

The 47-year-old won six Premier League titles, two FA Cups and the Champions League as a player and scored the goal that clinched the 1999 Treble.

He is self-deprecatory about his contribution to that success but only re-enforces his desire to repay that with a trophy as their manager.

“I owe my football career to this club so, to lift a trophy as a manager, would be the biggest achievement in my career,” said the former Molde and Cardiff manager.

“I was part of a fantastic team. Sometimes you just ride a wave on the sea you are in.

“The team I was in carried me. Roy Keane (former United captain) would say his back was sore because he carried me! And he is probably right.

“I contributed as well as I could, I was always ready for the team and the club.

“But if I could lift a trophy as a manager, that would be the proudest moment of my career without a doubt.”

– ‘Another step forward’ –

Solskjaer — who guided United to a Champions League spot for next season with a third-place finish in the league — says he and United chief executive Ed Woodward had formed a long-term plan when he replaced Jose Mourinho in December 2018.

Initially he was appointed caretaker manager before being awarded the job on a permanent basis in March 2019.

“We put a plan together as a club 18 months ago when I sat down with Ed Woodward and it wasn’t going to be a quick fix,” he said.

“We want to build. We have been to the semi-finals of the League Cup and the FA Cup and the next step is to get past that.

“That (the Europa League) would be another step forward for this team.”

Solskjaer said he could sense the hunger in his players and that winning the Europa League would only increase their desire to win more silverware.

“Some players may rest on their laurels once they have won something, but looking at this group it would mean what we’re doing now is working,” he said.

“It’s all in their hands. They know they’re at Man United and know we have the resources to build.”

AFP

Man Utd Striker Rashford To Receive Honour For Charity Work

File photo: Manchester United’s English striker, Marcus Rashford / AFP

 

Marcus Rashford is to become the youngest person to receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Manchester for his work campaigning against child poverty and his sporting achievements.

The 22-year-old Manchester United and England forward will follow in the footsteps of United greats Alex Ferguson and Bobby Charlton in earning the accolade from the university, which is the highest honour it can bestow.

Last month he forced a government U-turn after he wrote an open letter to MPs asking for the reversal of a decision not to award free school meal vouchers to vulnerable children outside term time.

The striker said his family relied on free school meals when he was growing up.

During the coronavirus pandemic he has also teamed up with poverty and food waste charity FareShare to help raise millions to provide meals for vulnerable people.

Rashford said in a statement: “It’s a proud day for myself and my family. When you look at the great names that have been awarded this doctorate in the past, it’s humbling.

“We still have a long way to go in the fight to combat child poverty in this country, but receiving recognition from your city means we are heading in the right direction and that means a lot.”

Manchester United’s English striker Marcus Rashford gestures at the final whistle during the English Leaguse Cup fourth round football match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge in London on October 30, 2019. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

The university’s president and vice-chancellor Nancy Rothwell said: “Marcus is an extraordinary young man with an extraordinary talent and drive that stretches well beyond the football field.

“His work for charity and his high-profile campaign will not only help countless young people across our own city, but across the entire country.”

The Football Association tweeted offering “huge congratulations” to Rashford, adding it was “deserved recognition for your remarkable efforts”.

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hailed his player.

“We’re so proud of Marcus,” Solskjaer said. “I’ve said it a few times, but he’s a great person and great human being. He cares about so much more than himself.”

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.