Wednesday 18 September 2019

Solskjaer urges Lukaku and Martial to find inspiration in Pogba's rejuvenation

Manchester United Interim Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire
Manchester United Interim Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire

Ian Whittell

Romelu Lukaku, Anthony Martial and Alexis Sanchez have been told to follow the example set by Paul Pogba and accept the responsibility for reviving their Manchester United form under interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The popular Norwegian has refused to take credit for the turnaround in Pogba's performances since he replaced Jose Mourinho before Christmas.

The French World Cup winner, so often in conflict with Solskjaer's predecessor, has impressed in wins over Cardiff and Huddersfield that ensured the new manager's regime started impressively.

"I cannot do anything for their performances on the pitch, Paul has done it himself," said Solskjaer.

"The players have done the performances. My chats with Anthony, Romelu, Alexis, whoever, has not felt that they cannot produce their best football. I'm here to guide them, help them on the path and it's up to them to do it on the pitch.

"I'm coming in from the outside, it's hard to make a difference. My job has been to speak to the players, try to get to know their feelings, know how their confidence levels are, and how they feel about their own situation, because every single one has a responsibility to improve.

"That is the name of the game when you are a footballer, you've got to do it yourself. I give them some guidelines of course, there has been lots of talk on expression, freedom of expression, but that's how I've always been as a manager.

"They are good players and it's up to them to use their imagination, their creativity and just enjoy playing for this club, because that is the best time of your life, but it's not a bad time being a manager for a little while either."

Lukaku has missed the first two games of Solskjaer's reign, having been given "compassionate leave" by the club, while Sanchez has been sidelined since late November with a hamstring injury.

Martial, meanwhile, scored in the Cardiff win but was ill for the visit of Huddersfield to Old Trafford on St Stephen's Day.

United face Bournemouth at home tomorrow, with Solskjaer waiting to check on the fitness of the three forwards before deciding whether they will play a part.

Scott McTominay and Marcos Rojo are also closing in on a first-team return, but Chris Smalling has been ruled out until mid-January with a broken bone in his foot.

There will be a new, if relatively unknown, addition to the United dugout tomorrow.

Mark Dempsey, who made two first-team appearances for the club as a midfielder in the 1980s, has joined the coaching staff.

The Manchester-born 54-year-old worked alongside Solskjaer when he first took charge at Molde and was on his staff at Cardiff City. Dempsey also assisted Solskjaer when the Norwegian was United reserve-team coach between 2008 and 2010. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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