Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has faced the media ahead of Manchester United’s Premier League meeting with Tottenham on Sunday, being quizzed on his recent comments about Jose Mourinho and potential incomings before the transfer window deadline.
An opening day defeat at home to Crystal Palace has since been followed up by back-to-back victories over Brighton in the league and Carabao Cup, but the Norwegian is feeling the heat due to his side’s performances as well as their inactivity in the transfer market.
Alongside that, he’s had to deal with controversy surrounding two of his players, with Harry Maguire being arrested in Greece while on holiday and Mason Greenwood found to have breached quarantine protocol while away on international duty.
Here is what Solskjaer has had to say.
An interesting subplot to the start of the 2020/21 Premier League season has been comments made by Solskjaer and Mourinho. Both have taken obvious digs at each other during media appearances – the most recent being in regard to Tottenham‘s route into the Carabao Cup quarter-finals.
Spurs were given a bye to the next round after their tie with Leyton Orient was called off due to a number of Orient players testing positive for COVID-19, with Solskjaer seizing the opportunity to have a poke at Mourinho’s side. Despite their comments about one another, Soslkjaer insisted it’s all just a bit of ‘fun’.
“We are in strange times at the moment, you’ve got to sometimes have a bit of fun as well,” he said. “It was a couple of innocent comments, for me José’s a very charismatic coach and manager.
“I’ve enjoyed in the media talking to him [José Mourinho], enjoyed watching him, he’s a winner but I’m not one of these that really go into all these mind games, I’ve got ultimate respect for him as a coach and results and everything he’s given football.
“It’s just more for you and the media, it’s important that we have a bit of entertainment as well and José has throughout the years given us some fantastic moments in football in press conferences.”
One of the many areas where United have come under criticism of late is their lack of activity in the current summer window. The club have a very public adoration for Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho, but their offers have not been accepted by the German club, who value to forward at £108m.
Interest in a host of other players have also failed to come to fruition, with the club’s transfer policy being called into question. Concerns over their lack of signings – despite bringing in Donny van de Beek – have been heightened by the work done by their top-flight rivals. Despite this, Solskjaer remains calm on that front and insists he’s focussed on Sunday’s game.
He said: “I’m not going go into the transfer window now, of course all my focus is on Sunday’s game, the club’s always working hard to have as strong as possible a squad and if something happens in or out you’ll get to know.
“When we’re planning, you’ve got players here we believe in, the transfer window is still open for a little while and the club has been working and know my view, and we’re here to strengthen in the long term as well.
“I’m not sure if I’m the right one to talk about progress or where we’re at, I’ve had my view on what to do and had the backing to go with my plans and vision and we’re all different.”
While Greenwood’s actions caused a stir themselves, Solskjaer has also been publicly critical of Gareth Southgate’s use of the United number 11. The Norwegian accused Greenwood of being overused, but has since clarified his position with the Three Lions boss.
“I had a very nice chat with Gareth [Southgate] about our England players and as I said earlier on games at this point it’s important for players to get some minutes,” he revealed. “We’ll get loads of training in for Mason, I respect Gareth’s decision.
“Mason [Greenwood] is one of the top strikers of the future for England and I’m sure he’s going to play many games for England. This now has been a learning curve for him, Mason has to reflect where he’s at what he needs to do how to get where he wants to get.”
Tottenham travel to Old Trafford on Sunday, but while talk about the dispute off the field is taking centre stage, Solskjaer has hinted his major concern is regarding Harry Kane, who has already scored six goals and set up another six in just seven matches across all competitions this season.
He concluded: “When you play against a team with the quality that they [Spurs] have, but also with Harry Kane then you prepare really well.
“Harry’s [Kane] one of the top strikers in the world and you’re just happy he’s back fit after the injury he had last year. We’ll do our best to keep him quiet, we have a Harry [Maguire] back there who’s looking forward to facing his international teammate.
“Harry [Maguire] had a knock after the league game, holding his ankle, he should be okay, we’re okay. No more injuries from the cup game.”
Bruno Fernandes sat out the Carabao Cup fixture against Brighton in midweek but is expected to be fit for Sunday.