Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: Man Utd manager insists he and the club are planning long-term

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insists all his conversations with the club’s board have involved long-term planning, despite increasing pressure following back-to-back defeats.

United are 15th in the Premier League with only two wins from six matches and are reeling from a 2-1 defeat to Istanbul Basaksehir in the Champions League on Wednesday – three days after losing 1-0 to Arsenal.

Those results have brought Solskjaer’s position under scrutiny, but United have no plans to replace him despite reports linking former Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino with the manager’s role at Old Trafford.

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Ahead of Saturday’s trip to Goodison Park to face Everton, Solskjaer remained defiant when asked about the confidence he feels he has from the club’s decision-makers.

“I’ve got to say that all my conversations with the club have been planning long-term. Of course, we want short-term results, I have had positive dialogue, we’ve put plans in place and planted seeds, the tree is growing.

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“Some clubs rip up their tree to see if it is still growing, or getting enough water. I have had backing all the way since I have come in. The club needs to look at the bigger picture.

“We cannot react to one or two results, we have to look further back and what is the direction we are going in.”

The Norwegian also rejected questions around the mentality of his players, saying he has no complaints about his squad in that regard.

“The culture and mentality in the group has improved immensely. The players here do really have the mindset of improving all the time and winning. When you lose a game the critics are everywhere.

“I have no complaints about mentality. We have competition for places and some of them are not happy when they are not playing, that does not mean they have a bad mindset. They have a good reaction coming on and making an impact.”

Asked if he is certain of being successful at the club, Solskjaer said: “Yeah, why wouldn’t I be?

“If I don’t trust my beliefs and values, my staff’s qualities and the quality of my players, who else should?

“I don’t look at one or two results and fall like a house of cards. It’s a setback, definitely, but I think there’s been too much made of not scoring against Arsenal and Chelsea, because there’s been more or less nothing in those two games.

“It’s not long ago that we were the best thing since sliced bread when we beat RB Leipzig and Paris Saint-Germain.

“There’s ups and downs in football and that’s just the way it has to be and you’ve got to have that belief in yourself and belief in the players.

“From what I’ve seen from the boys, they’ve been very focused since we’ve come back and are ready to give a response.”

Ole: There’s always pressure

United have suffered their worst start to a league season since the David Moyes era and are just four points above the relegation zone at this early stage.

Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson believes the game at Goodison Park is Solskjaer’s “biggest of his managerial career”, but the United boss says pressure is expected when representing the “biggest club in the world”.

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“I’ve learned how to deal with good and bad times. You’re a top coach or manager when you win and you’re bad when you lose, because you’re not really better than your last game.

“Every game of football becomes history quickly and we’ve just got to go into Goodison Park in a positive frame of mind.

“You have to be mentally strong. There’s demands on a Manchester United player, coach and manager and there’s also expectation because we are the best and biggest club in the world.

“You don’t expect to have anything but criticism. It’s just how you deal with it and how you deal with those setbacks.”

‘Man Utd continue to back Solskjaer’

Sky Sports News reporter James Cooper:

“From what I’m being told, Manchester United still see Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as a long-term project and somebody who should be given the backing and support to do this job. I don’t think anything’s changed.

“What’s their reaction to the last couple of days? I think it’s not good. A week ago, we were all saying what an amazing coach and how things have changed under Solskjaer.

“He out-thought RB Leipzig when they won 5-0 at Old Trafford and everything seemed to be changing. The flipside to that is, how on earth did those players beat Leipzig 5-0 and then put in the performances that we’ve seen over the last couple of games?

“There are major question marks. You saw Solskjaer – he was furious with what happened in Istanbul. He protected his players, didn’t criticise them too much. But I think you can see that he’s expecting a big turnaround against Everton at the weekend.

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“We have been here before but most Manchester United fans would tell you, when he needs a result, he gets one. But going to Everton at the weekend won’t be easy. November is a sticky time for managers post Sir Alex Ferguson.

“This time last year, there were the same questions against Solskjaer. The message from United is that they’re backing Solskjaer. He is the man for the long-term, but things do need to improve on the pitch.

“Everybody will be looking at Goodison Park on Saturday lunchtime to see what kind of Manchester United team do turn up. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be leading that team.

“He needs a performance and he also needs a result against Everton.”

McClaren: Ole must be ruthless

Former Manchester United assistant manager Steve McClaren says Solskjaer must be “ruthless” with his underperforming players.

“Ole’s under pressure. He needs clarity, a clear head and good support staff to tell him the truth,” McClaren told Sky Sports News.

“But he also needs to be ruthless, and those players that aren’t performing, he has to somehow turn that around. Ole and his staff must take responsibility because there’s been that many systems over the last few weeks. There’s been a change of personnel – is he trying to keep everybody happy and give everybody a game?

“Those players have to take responsibility also; they’re not doing it game in, game out. Yes, Ole takes responsibility, but the players also must look at themselves.”

What’s gone wrong with Man Utd?

Manchester United looked to be heading upwards when they qualified for the Champions League following a strong end to the 2019/20 season. Fast-forward three months and they are 15th in the Premier League and reeling from an embarrassing defeat to Istanbul Basaksehir.

The Champions League had provided a welcome distraction from domestic difficulties for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, but, having beaten Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig, their shortcomings were exposed in an abject defeat on the banks of the Bosporus on Wednesday evening.

Manchester United were supposed to push on this season, they were supposed to build on that late surge which secured a top-four finish on the final day. Instead, they have made their worst start since the David Moyes era, and worst start at Old Trafford in almost half a century. After all the promise, how did we end up here?

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