Football

Solskjaer admits they are 'a bit further behind' in rebuilding work

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted that their rebuilding work had been slower than expected, but added that he was focused on developing a team that could dominate and break sides down.

The Norwegian took over from the sacked Jose Mourinho a year ago, but has not fared much better, with United in eighth spot, 24 points behind leaders Liverpool.

Said Solskjaer, ahead of his side's match against Newcastle United on Friday morning (Singapore time): “We’re halfway through this season and we knew this season was going to be a season of some ups and downs.

“This season will be used to find a team and a squad for next season, but hopefully we can speed this process up by getting more results.

“Expect us to be more consistent, definitely more experienced and learning from these setbacks, but at the moment we’re a little bit further behind than what I was hoping for, yeah."

United were able to match the big boys, as shown from their back-to-back wins over Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City, but it was their inability to break down lesser sides that has cost them this season. 

“It’s taken Liverpool a few years to get to that stage and we need to keep on building because that’s what we want to get to,” said Solskjaer.

“Yes, we’re good at counter-attacking. Yes, we’ve got pace and fast players. We should always keep that because that’s in our tradition. Now we need to be better at breaking lower blocks.”

Since their wins over Spurs and City, the Red Devils drew with Everton and on Sunday, lost 2-0 to bottom club Watford.

But at least one positive from that defeat at Vicarage Road was the return of Paul Pogba after a long injury lay-off.

The World Cup winner was in action for United for the first time since late September as a substitute against Watford.

He could be in the starting XI against Newcastle as Solskjaer desperately seeks the creativity the team need to break down stubborn opposition defences.

“Let’s see how he reacts to this, how he feels,” said Solskjaer. “He did really well when he came on. Big, big plus and it might be that we do get him in from the start.”

Pogba, who had played only twice since the end of August due to an ankle injury, was introduced on Sunday with United already trailing by two goals and went close to scoring during a late attacking flurry from the visitors.

“He can play anywhere, he can play the whole midfield,” said Solskjaer. “He’s a box-to-box midfielder. He can drop deep, get it, play long passes. He can get it higher up and combine like he did.

“That’s the beauty of having Paul, because he is the best all-round midfielder in the world,” added the United boss, who has said the 26-year-old will not be leaving in the January transfer window despite links with Real Madrid. – AFP

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