Monday 16 September 2019

'I speak to him after games' - Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on the role Alex Ferguson plays in his Man United set-up

Solskjaer, left. and Ferguson are in regular contact, although not as much as people believe. (Martin Rickett/PA)
Solskjaer, left. and Ferguson are in regular contact, although not as much as people believe. (Martin Rickett/PA)
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has suggested he wants to build his team around Paul Pogba, despite the Frenchman's public claims that he wants to leave the Old Trafford club this summer.

Pogba and his agent Mino Raiola have spoken about their joint desire to seal a move away from United three years after the duo oversaw an £89m move from Juventus, with Real Madrid and the Italian giants strongly linked with a move to sign the World Cup-winning midfielder.

Yet in a wide-ranging interview with the BBC, Solskjaer insisted he still has faith in Pogba as he offered up praise for the 26-year-old, who has seen his attitude called into question time and again over the last three years.

"Paul is a fantastic player and a fantastic human being," declared Solskjaer. "He has always been a great professional.

"When I was at Molde, I said, 'if he's in your squad, you'd build a team around him'. I would say the same now. Manchester United fans know their football. We know Paul has been criticised by a few but he's loved by loads more.

"You know, it's the best feeling you can have to be at this club when we're successful. The ones that might want to leave now haven't been here when it's been successful. Hopefully they want to be part of that. I want to be part of it."

Former United manager Alex Ferguson is reported to have an increased influence in the club's first-team plans since his former player Solskjaer replaced Jose Mourinho last December, but the United boss downplayed those suggestions.

"I spent the biggest part of my football career under him, so it's natural that I've learned from him," said Solskjaer. "Of course, I speak to him after games. I go up to his lounge, but loads of things have been said which are not true.

"He's been to the training ground twice since I've been there. We send texts to each other. I might ask him for something. He asks me for a few favours. It's great, but he's at a different stage of his life now."

Solskjaer went on to suggest he would have the final say over all transfers, as he insisted United fans need to give him time to bring back a winning mentality into his dressing room.

"You've got to be patient," he added. "Building a team or rebuilding a squad takes time. I am not going to ask for too much time because as manager you're also under pressure straight away, maybe not for results but the way we want to play football.

"I hope with the way we approach games, the fans will see what we're trying to do and the results will come. I definitely still regard it as an honour and privilege to do this job. I can't talk about how others view management but for me, it is about consistency and the long term.

"You have to have short-term gains and results but there is no chance this is going to be about anything other than improving the club. We want to make steps so we are closer to getting to the top, where we believe we belong.

"We have to aim for further up than fourth. I would rather be an optimist and be wrong than a pessimist and be right. I am not used to us being fifth or sixth but that is where we are at. That is the size of the challenge. I love that challenge.

"We have to work with the players, sign the right types and gradually make our way to the challenging line. Our players do have quality. They do have a chance. We just need consistency. We have to keep working every single day and not take our eyes off the target."

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