Solskjaer feeling the pressure to end Manchester United’s run of poor form

Manager dismisses criticism from Jamie Carragher

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: ‘I believe in myself and as long as the club believes in me I’m pretty sure that Jamie Carragher’s opinion is not going to change that.’  Photograph: Neil Hall/EPA

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: ‘I believe in myself and as long as the club believes in me I’m pretty sure that Jamie Carragher’s opinion is not going to change that.’ Photograph: Neil Hall/EPA

 

Champions League Group F: Manchester United v Atalanta

Kick-off: 8pm, Wednesday. Venue: Old Trafford. How to watch: Live on Virgin Media Two, BT Sport 2 and LiveScore.

Ole Gunnar Solskjær has defended his record as Manchester United manager but accepted there is pressure on him following the club’s recent run of poor form. United have won only two of their last seven matches, losing four of them, including Saturday’s 4-2 defeat at Leicester. This has led to heightened scrutiny of Solskjær, and the Norwegian was asked if he feels safe in his job.

“There is pressure all the time. There is pressure on me of course but we’ve been through this before and come through it stronger as a team and as individuals,” he said. “I’m just looking forward to the response [on the pitch]. I’m in dialogue with the club all the time so there is an open and honest discussion all the time.

“We’ve progressed over the years since I was [first here for] half a season. Sixth, third, second. You can see the progress, development and improvement. This season we still want to improve. We’ve signed players that have raised expectations. Other teams have signed players and improved as well so we’re in the same boat as all the top teams.”

While the United hierarchy remain firm in their backing of Solskjær, home defeats in Wednesday’s Champions League group game to Atalanta and Liverpool in Sunday’s Premier League match might cause a shift in the position. Solskjær was asked about the view of Jamie Carragher, the former Liverpool defender who said on Monday that the Norwegian should be sacked if the club wants to be successful.

‘Values’

“Of course we’ve got Liverpool on Sunday as well so Jamie is always looking at these little things,” Solskjær said. “I’ve got my values. I’ve got my way of managing and I believe in myself and as long as the club believes in me I’m pretty sure that Jamie Carragher’s opinion is not going to change that.

“When you ask about moods it’s not a gimmicky, jovial happy camp. We’re focused and determined. Conceding four goals is a big eye-opener for us that we need to improve on different levels with loads of details.”

Solskjær defended the role of Cristiano Ronaldo, who has been accused of not pressing enough from his centre-forward role. “We’ve got 11 players on the pitch with different roles and responsibilities,” he said. “We put a team out there that we think is going to win that game, we didn’t win against Leicester so there’s always going to be criticism. Cristiano is an absolute top player and we know what he can do for us.”

He also defended his coaching staff – assistant manager Mike Phelan and first-team coaches Michael Carrick and Kieran McKenna – following criticism that United have lacked cohesion. “The coaching staff we have are absolutely amazing – the attention to detail, the sessions they put on, the preparation that we have,” he said.

“I don’t think I can ask for better staff. They’re good Man Utd people and with one intention in mind and that’s improve the team and help the players and to help the team and players grow. We go through difficult times together.”

Tighten up

Marcus Rashford scored at Leicester on his return from injury. He is clear United have to tighten up as a unit. “Against Leicester we were just too open. It’s as simple as that – they’re a good footballing team as are a lot of them out there, and it was too easy for them to play through us and we’re going to do our best not to let that happen again. The game against Atalanta is the first opportunity to show that’s what we’re focused on.

“For us as players we want silverware and the staff as well. Everyone here wants to win trophies. But there’s steps that you have to take to get there and you don’t just win trophies overnight. We have been on this journey for a while now and come close a lot of times and we have to find the difference between coming close and getting our hands on trophies. It’s the next game that counts – we want to move ourselves forward.”

United have three points in Group F, one behind Atalanta. “In the Champions League group stage you have six games – if you win all three home games and get a result away from home, most likely you go through,” said Solskjær. “And that’s what we’re aiming for: a win against a very good Atalanta side would be massive for us and a big boost.” – Guardian

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