Solskjær willing to skew race for top four with rotation policy
Man United facing fixture pile up with just the Europa League to play for this season
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is planning sweeping changes during Manchester United’s run of four matches in eight days. Photograph: PA
Ole Gunnar Solskjær has said Manchester United could skew the race for the top four because he cannot pick his strongest team at home to Leicester on Tuesday and Liverpool on Thursday. United’s manager acknowledged he could anger those clubs and others battling for Champions League places by naming entirely different XIs amid a fixture pileup.
“One of them might not be happy because I play a full team maybe in one and the next 11 in the other,” Solskjær said. “I’ve got to look after the players. That might be someone not happy with my team selection for one game or two games. That might affect whoever gets into fourth position or the Champions League. That’s not my problem.
“I’ve got to think about my players but I know there will be teams fighting for the Champions League places that will not think: ‘That’s Man United’s best team in that team; that’s not the best players.’ I can promise you that its impossible to play 90 minutes at this intensity, at that level in the Premier League four times from Thursday to Thursday. That means I cannot play everyone every minute which means we’ve got to prioritise.”
United, who played at Roma on Thursday, travel to Aston Villa on Sunday before hosting Leicester and Liverpool. Solskjær has lambasted the pileup caused by the postponement of last Sunday’s game at home to Liverpool amid fan protests, saying United have been dealt a “very bad hand” by “people who sit behind a desk in their suits”.
He also has the Europa League final on May 26th to plan for and said: “I’ve looked through and I know that Man United in 1991-92 had a very, very similar run-in and you can see how the results deteriorate [they relinquished top spot after losing three of their final four matches].”
United supporters are planning another protest against the owners, the Glazers, before Thursday’s game against Liverpool, with one group indicating they aim to cause a further postponement. Solskjær reiterated his call for no violence and Greater Manchester Police said lessons had been learned from Sunday’s protest at Old Trafford and the Lowry hotel and a strategy change would follow.
A GMP spokesman told the Guardian: “We have reviewed our approach again following the events of last weekend and planned appropriate resourcing to ensure the safety of all those present at next week’s fixtures.” - Guardian