Ole Gunnar Solskjær optimistic despite worst start since 1989-90

He took a swipe at the media who, he believes, have exaggerated their problems

 Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after his team’s draw with Arsenal. Photograph: EPA

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after his team’s draw with Arsenal. Photograph: EPA

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjær insisted he was still confident of Manchester United having a successful year after a 1-1 draw with Arsenal condemned the 20-times Premier League champions to their worst start to a season for 30 years.

United’s tally of nine points from their opening seven fixtures is the first time since the 1989-90 season they have not reached double figures but Solskjær argued that his team’s performances had merited a better return – and he took a swipe at the media who, he believes, have exaggerated their problems.

“There are many things that give me loads of confidence,” the United manager said. “We can talk about performance but it’s results that matter. You can talk about results, I can talk about six out of seven good performances. West Ham, we know, was below par [LOSING 2-0]but it wasn’t as bad as you lot made it out to be.”

In a match of low quality, Scott McTominay had given United a first-half lead but Arsenal equalised just before the hour when VAR overturned an offside decision that had initially ruled out Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s goal.

“How many times have we been 1-0 up and not got the second goal?” Solskjær said. “This is a steep learning curve for us and we’ll keep working hard and, with more experience, we’ll make the right decisions. It’s another game that we’re 1-0 up – Southampton, Wolverhampton, we need to learn to win these games.”

The draw leaves United in 10th position while Arsenal move up to fourth but the Old Trafford crowd remained supportive of Solskjær and his players – and the manager also received the backing of Roy Keane, his former team-mate.

Keane’s view in his role as a television pundit was that Solskjær should “100%” be given more time. “I think he has been brilliant, a good honest guy,” the former United captain told Sky Sports. “It is hard work at the moment but there are six or seven young players learning their way. We’re all very impatient, we want success yesterday, but you have to give the man time. He is frustrated, under pressure, but dealing with it. He’s a classy guy but no doubt he will be disappointed at not winning enough games.

“They have given him the job, so support him in a couple of transfer windows. Are there more tough days ahead? You bet your life but you need to stick with it. There was a lack of quality from both teams tonight. Their lack of goals, the lack of opportunities they’re creating. Give these boys time. But on tonight’s performance, none of them [neither Manchester United nor Arsenal] will be in the top four.”

Unai Emery, the Arsenal manager, described the game as 50-50 and tried to exonerate Granit Xhaka, the club’s newly-installed captain, for seeming to duck out of the way of McTominay’s shot for the opening goal. Xhaka had played with “big commitment”, according to his manager. Emery added that he had not seen the replays of United’s goal but that he had noted how determined Xhaka was to sprint back into position as the home team launched their counter-attack from an Arsenal corner.

Solskjær, who said that Anthony Martial might not be back from injury until after the next international break, thought his team ought to have been awarded a penalty and he was also unhappy about the unusual circumstances leading to Aubameyang’s goal.

United’s argument was that their players hesitated when they saw the flag being raised. “Ashley [YOUNG]certainly holds his hand up,” Solskjær said. “He looks straight at the linesman and maybe hesitates when he could have got a block in. That probably would have helped David [DE GEA]but it is no consolation. It’s a perfectly good goal for them, the linesman probably should have kept the flag down.”

He added: “We didn’t get out of the blocks quickly enough at the start of the second half. It felt like Arsenal were the more proactive until they scored their goal. I felt we could get a goal at the end and we sent men forward. I’ve been in that situation as a player when you come off and think you could have got more out of a game but we’ll learn from this.”

(Guardian services)

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