Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insisted on Tuesday he is the right man to take Manchester United forward despite an alarming loss of form that has left them in danger of missing out on a place in next season’s Champions League.
After a magnificent start as United caretaker manager following Jose Mourinho’s sacking, Solskjaer has seen his side suffer an equally dramatic slump, losing six of their last eight games in all competitions.
During that run, United have exited the FA Cup, Champions League and dropped to sixth in the Premier League table with their form hitting a low point in the woeful 4-0 defeat at Everton on Sunday.
Questions are now being asked about whether United acted too hastily in making his appointment permanent last month — although Solskjaer himself insists that is not the case.
“Well I would like to say yes but it’s not down to me to say that” he said.
“I’m confident in my team and myself. I’ll be ready to take this challenge on.
“I know it’s a big challenge and that’s why, when I came in here, I said I’m going to enjoy every single second. I don’t like losing but it’s a challenge all the managers at this club have had.
“When you go through bad results, you’ve got to be confident enough to say this is the way we’re going to do it and plan ahead.”
Solskjaer’s lack of managerial experience at the very highest level of the game, especially in the transfer market, have raised questions over his suitability to return United to the top of the football ladder.
– ‘No hiding place’ –
But he was adamant his coaching and recruitment abilities make him the right man for that task, saying: “I would like to think so, yes.
“I like all these boys, I love them because they’re great lads. But I’ve got to make decisions and manage for the club. I’m managing the club and helping the players but I manage for the club.
Solskjaer’s task does not get any easier, with a derby meeting against treble-chasing Manchester City looming for his side at Old Trafford on Wednesday.
The United manager revealed he called his players in for a clear-the-air meeting after the debacle at Goodison Park — a result which means his club have leaked 48 goals, their worst defensive record in a league season in 40 years.
“That (the derby) is the best game we could ask for, with the players hurt as they definitely were,” Solskjaer said. “We had a meeting after the game and all the players were definitely, definitely disappointed but really, really hurt by that performance and the City game is the perfect one.
“There is no hiding place on the pitch and the fans will back you if you give that effort.
“We’ve got to be ready for the press, for their pressing, so we’ve got to defend well, got to be ready for their aggression, they will snap at your heels and kick you, there will be fouls, absolutely no doubt about it and when you watch those games they commit so many players forward.”
After the Everton defeat, Solskjaer warned that many of his under-achieving players will not survive at United although, when pressed 48 hours later, he refused to expand on the personnel he had in mind.
“Of course, you learn about players and now is not the time to talk about making wholesale changes in a squad that’s been doing so great — only City and Liverpool have taken more points than us in the last 18 games and that’s it,” he said.
“We were where we were when we came in, really gave it a go, and you can see loads of Man United standards, the DNA in these players. You have to get players in and some players will go out.”