Sunday 18 August 2019

'I won't let players throw me under bus' - Ole Gunnar Solskjaer comes out fighting

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Photo: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Photo: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty

Mike Whalley

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is set to tone down the nostalgia lessons at Manchester United after declaring that he will not allow the club's players to "throw him under the bus".

The manager has said that United have to stop living in the past if they are to find a way out of their malaise and become serious title contenders again.

Solskjaer's knowledge of United's culture, having played for the club between 1996 and 2007, made him a popular appointment when he replaced the sacked Jose Mourinho in December, initially as caretaker manager.

He is increasingly aware, though, that too much referring back to the days of his success as a player under Alex Ferguson could be counterproductive. Solskjaer's decision to take his squad to the Cliff, United's former first-team training ground in Salford, as a "reality check" before last Wednesday's Manchester derby met with a mixed reaction from supporters.

He acknowledged after the 2-0 defeat by City that the open nature of the venue may have been a factor in United's team being leaked three hours before kick-off.

Solskjaer, who signed a three-year contract as permanent manager in March after winning 14 of his first 17 games in caretaker charge, is determined to respect the traditions of the club without letting them overwhelm him.

He said: "Everyone knows that times have changed. What the gaffer did was unbelievable. But we are doing things differently to all the previous managers. We can't try to copy Sir Alex and think that will be successful - because he was unique. We have to do it our own way.

"We have a different generation of players. Maybe some of them could not have handled Sir Alex's way of managing but we will look to do it our way. They know the history of the club, and it means a lot for everyone but we can't linger on it.

"The clubs underneath us are chasing us. But we shouldn't be looking back at them and thinking about being chased by clubs such as Everton. We should be chasing the top clubs. At the moment that is the reality."

United go into today's match against Chelsea at Old Trafford needing a victory to remain in serious contention for a top-four finish that would ensure a place in next season's Champions League.

Solskjaer has seen his side lose seven of their past nine games in all competitions, and received a warning from former United captain Roy Keane last week that the players were letting him down in the same way that they did Mourinho. In Keane's words, "these are the players who threw Jose Mourinho under the bus and they'll do it to Ole", but Solskjaer is adamant that will not happen.

He said: "That was Roy Keane who said that, wasn't it? Of course that is not going to happen. I speak to the players all the time; they know my expectations and standards. I have got three years here now and I am going to do whatever I can to make this club successful. We do that together, it is not like players against managers here.

"Supporters know, we know, we are doing this together and working together to improve. We are all in this together."

Telegraph

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