Solskjær blunt about United’s need to sharpen up attack
Striking departures and injuries could see Mason Greenwood (17) play against Arsenal
Mason Greenwood of Manchester United. Photograph: Alex Livesey/Getty
Ole Gunnar Solskjær is open to signing a striker in January, with Manchester United’s manager admitting a rocket scientist is not required to identify his need for one.
Romelu Lukaku, United’s top scorer of the past two campaigns, was sold in the summer, while Alexis Sánchez was loaned to Internazionale. Neither player has been replaced. With Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford injured for Arsenal’s visit to Old Trafford tonight, Solskjær may be forced to field 17-year-old Mason Greenwood as his centre-forward.
This further highlights the lack of depth in attack, as does United’s 17 goals in 18 games since the Norwegian was made permanent manager in March.
Solskjær was emphatic when asked if he would look to acquire a goalscorer in the winter transfer window. “We let Alexis and Romelu go, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that it’s a forward that next time we’re going to recruit – we’re looking for some creativity and goals.
Solskjær refused to sign one in the close season. “There were strikers but they weren’t the ones we wanted. If we had the right one, we would have.
“It was time for Romelu to go. He knows that. He didn’t want to be here. What is the point in having players that don’t want to be here? And it’s no point getting players in that you’re not 100 per cent sure about. When you get players in you need the right ones that are going to stay here for a longer period, and that’s the long-term thinking we have to show. I cannot think: I need a player because this is my reputation. No, it’s the club.”
Solskjær is under scrutiny, with United winning three of their eight matches in all competitions this season and five since his appointment. Yet he denied having any faltering self-confidence. “You evaluate every single game and look through the games, but I’m not doubting myself, no. If I doubt myself, then the rest of the world would as well. We have loads of discussions, so we believe in what we’re doing.”
Solskjær admits, though, that his players may be feeling the pressure of performing for United. “Sometimes, probably and that’s part of it, my job is to lead them, guide them, telling them that we trust them because they’re here because they’re good players. But I’m sure they can handle it – they’re getting more and more robust. The group, the culture, is improving. We can reset quicker than we did last year.”
Asked what he meant by “reset”, he said: “Mentally it was a long and draining season last season, and towards the end we worked hard to reset their mentalities and now it’s more about us. We’re getting more and more settled with the way we want to play. We don’t chop and change as much. Last season when I came in, we had to change a bit more again.
“The opposition decided a lot on how we were going to approach the game. When you decide on this as a long-term project and you’re going to think about the future, then you need to find a way we want to play. That’s why I think it’s easier for them to [think], Okay, these are the principles we’re going to play by.”
Solskjær also confirmed that United’s target is to finish in the top four.