Football

Solskjaer grateful for United board’s backing

Red Devils boss says they knew longer-term plan meant some patchy periods

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said yesterday he is grateful to the club’s hierarchy for backing him despite a poor run of form, a day after Chelsea sacked Frank Lampard while going through a slump.

The Blues icon was fired following 18 months in charge after a disappointing run of results – despite spending about £220 million (S$399.8m) in the close season. The club sit ninth in the standings.

EPL
MAN UNITED  SHEFFIELD UNITED 

United are top of the English Premier League but were knocked out of the Champions League in the group stage last month, which had also piled intense pressure on Solskjaer.

The Norwegian, who took over the Old Trafford hot seat in December 2018, explained their long-term plan accounted for some poor spells.

“We know we would have some tough periods... We have been through two or three spells of bad form but they stood strong,” said Solskjaer ahead of tomorrow morning’s (Singapore time) home game against Sheffield United. “We looked at the squad and the situation we were in. We had a longer-term plan in place. We knew there were going to be some patchy periods and we had to stay strong mentally.

“The leadership they have shown has been strong and steady, I’m grateful for that.”

Solskjaer added that striker Marcus Rashford trained yesterday and is available for selection after tweaking his knee.

The Norwegian also heaped praise on 33-year-old Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani, who led the line impressively in Sunday’s 3-2 FA Cup win over Liverpool.

“When a striker of that age runs almost 12 kilometres... he chases down the centre-back every time their ’keeper has the ball, he tackles the centre midfielders, he makes a mistake and then gets back in his own 18-yard box,” Solskjaer said of Cavani.

“His reaction, his work rate, his habits, his humility... We can go on and on. His experience and attitude has been a lesson for every single one of us.”

While the FA Cup win over Liverpool has brought much cheer to the Red Devils’ camp,  Solskjaer wants his charges to keep their feet on the ground.

He said: “We’re not getting carried away. We know we have to get consistency, results, performances. The two teams that have been top of the league for the last three years have been amazing.

“Absolutely incredible consistency and in many other seasons, you would have won the league with 15, almost 20, points (fewer) than the two of them.

“We know that this is the start of something, we just have to be competitive and keep improving. No, we’re not going to get  carried away, but just keep on working as we do.”

United will be confident of extending a 13-game unbeaten run in the league that has taken them to the top of the table against the Blades, who have won only once in the top flight this season.

Solskjaer is wary of his side slipping back into bad habits as they have done previously after good runs during his tenure.

He said: “Now I want to see the reaction, how we can now mentally go again, against Sheffield United. That’s the challenge now.” – AFP, REUTERS
 

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