Tuesday 15 October 2019

'We cannot carry players' - Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hands Man United's under-performers handed an ultimatum

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Photo: Sergio Perez/Reuters
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Photo: Sergio Perez/Reuters

Mike Whalley

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has warned Alexis Sanchez and his team-mates that Manchester United cannot afford to carry players if they are to halt the club's decline.

The manager has made it clear that restoring United to the top of the English game will be a long-term project after seeing their Champions League run ended emphatically by Barcelona.

Solskjaer has become increasingly frustrated at the way his squad's performance has dropped off over the past six weeks, with United losing five out of seven matches as they prepare for today's trip to Everton. He is looking at trimming his squad over the summer, with Sanchez's long-term future up in the air after a poor 15 months at Old Trafford.

The Chile forward has scored just twice all season and has started only five matches in all competitions since Solskjaer took over at Old Trafford, initially as caretaker-manager, on December 19.

Sanchez may prove difficult to offload, given that he has a contract until 2022 worth more than £400,000 a week when bonuses are factored in.

Solskjaer, though, will not allow passengers in a squad he believes must become fitter and work harder in order to avoid a repeat next season of the 20-plus point gap that has opened up between themselves, in sixth, and the Premier League leaders Manchester City.

"As a club, we cannot carry players," the manager said. "Everyone has to take ownership, keep improving, show the hunger that you want to get better individually and as a team. I'm not just talking about Alexis. Everyone is under the same demands. But if we are talking about Alexis, he hasn't been lucky with injuries.

"Some other players have had injuries as well. But I see the characters we have. Alexis has got a fantastic talent when he's at his best level. Now we want him performing for us."

Solskjaer won 14 of his first 17 matches after being appointed caretaker manager, earning a three-year deal.

However, United's form has dipped considerably since the comeback victory at Paris Saint-Germain that secured a place in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Their run of five defeats in seven matches in all competitions started after the win at the Parc des Princes, including elimination from the FA Cup at Wolves and the Champions League after a 4-0 aggregate defeat by Barcelona.

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