Ole Gunnar Solskjaer backs his players to bounce back

Manchester United, who have won only two of their six Premier League matches are languishing in 15th position. United’s hope of recovering from defeat to Arsenal were dealt a huge blow when they lost to Istanbul Basaksehir in the Champions League. The back to back defeats have put Solskjaer and his men under immense pressure as they travel Merseyside to face the high flying Everton.

Speaking ahead of their match against Everton, the Manchester United manager answered questions about his future at the club.

On squad’s mentality

Every time you play for United, passion and fight are the things you expect to see, to earn the right to win a game of football you need that and definitely against Everton, with or without fans at Goodison Park, you still have to have that fight and passion in you, that’s a given. Times are different, times are strange, there is a strain on the players. Football is not the same without fans and passion. I don’t think anyone’s been in the situation the players are now – they’ve had months and months of playing with uncertainty and unknown with the virus and pandemic. We have to look after them, physically and mentally and think how my players cope with the whole situation. I’m a definite believer in these boys and will come and show how much they care.

On Everton and Calvert-Lewin

When Carlo came in, that’s a manager everyone admires, players, coaches, other managers, he’s had a fantastic career and you starting having a look. They didn’t have a very good period after restart but now you can see what he’s been working on, good pre-season, he used restart to look at his team and I’ve been impressed. Calvert-Lewin has been part of that and is integral to their play.

On defeats against Arsenal and Istanbul Basaksehir

We had a very long and late flight back home so we were here early Thursday morning, landing in Manchester. Thursday was a day of tired minds and legs and we couldn’t do a lot. Today has been a bright sunny day in Manchester for a change and the boys are ready for a reaction. We’re all hurt, it’s never easy and never enjoyable when you lose two games on the bounce and you’ve got to react to it. We know Champions League games are difficult, you don’t mind when they outplay you but we gifted them the goals.

On his future at Manchester United

Yeah, you have to be mentally strong, there are demands on Manchester United players, coaches and manager. There is an expectation, we are at the best and biggest club in the world and you don’t expect anything but criticism then. It’s how you deal with that setback and from what I’ve seen from the boys they’ve been very focused.

On delivering success at Manchester United

If I don’t trust my belief and values and staffs quality and players’ quality, who else should?I don’t look at one or two results and fall like a house of cards, it’s a setback, definitely, there’s been too much made of not scoring against Arsenal and Chelsea, there’ve been nothing in those games and it’s not long ago we were the best thing since sliced bread against Leipzig and PSG. You have to have that belief, club have been very positive and shown me their character and strong leadership, I’m looking to Saturday morning, that’s another matter we can talk about.

On pressure and board’s backing

I’ve always had a very good, open and honest and positive dialogue with the club. They’ve shown strong leadership since I come in and with me today it’s sunny in Manchester, I don’t expect the wind to turn, always pressure and expectations on us. I became a man at Manchester United and have learnt how to deal with good and bad times. You’re a top coach or manager when you win and bad when you lose because that’s the last game you played. You aren’t really better than your last game. Every game of football becomes history quickly and we need to go into Goodison Park in a positive frame of mind.

On United’s inconsistent performances

Every game lives its own life and there are fine margins, I’ve said that many times and the performances. The results create the headlines and backdrop and in games that you win you’re praised and ‘that’s a fantastic performance’. Sometimes you lose and are criticised but it’s not as black and white as that. We definitely searching for the consistency, something we need to improve on, we need a response against Everton. I come back to what I said earlier on with the players and times we live in, that has to have an input in people’s daily life and mental health at the moment, sometimes you think about how focused the players can be on football and sometimes after defeat it’s easier to focus on ‘I need to get back to preparing well’. Sometimes when you do well you maybe drop your guard and think you have cracked it. I’m looking forward to the response tomorrow afternoon.

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