LONDON, United Kingdom, Nov 6 – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer vowed on Friday he would not “fall like a house of cards” after damaging defeats ramped up the pressure on the Manchester United manager.
The Norwegian boss has come under intense scrutiny following a nightmare start to the Premier League season and a humiliating defeat to Istanbul Basaksehir in the Champions League.
United appeared to have turned the corner after last month’s chastening 6-1 home defeat to predecessor Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham, beating Paris Saint-Germain away and thumping RB Leipzig 5-0 at Old Trafford.
But things have gone badly awry in the past week, with defeat by Arsenal at home followed by a 2-1 loss to Basaksehir, in a performance marred by shocking defensive lapses.
United’s poor form has coincided with reports that the club have made contact with representatives of former Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino.
Solskjaer’s team are languishing in 15th spot in the Premier League table — without a single home league win so far this season — ahead of their trip to Everton on Saturday.
But the 47-year-old manager said he was still confident in his ability to turn things around at Old Trafford.
Asked at his pre-match press conference if he is as certain of being successful at United as he was when permanently appointed manager, Solskjaer said: “Yeah, why wouldn’t I be?
“If I don’t trust my beliefs and values and my staff’s quality and the players’ quality, who else should?”
– United ‘setback’ –
Solskjaer added: “I don’t look at one or two results and fall like a house of cards. But, yeah, setback definitely.”
The United boss said too much had been made about his team’s inability to score against Arsenal and Chelsea, adding that they had been widely praised after their wins against Leipzig and PSG.
One quirk is that their away performances have been strikingly good while they have struggled at home, where they have struggled to break down opposition defences.
Defeat in Turkey ended United’s longest away winning run in all competitions in their history — 10 straight victories.
“It’s not too long ago we were the best thing since sliced bread when you beat Leipzig and PSG, so there’s ups and downs in football and that’s just the way it has to be,” said Solskjaer.
“You’ve got to have that belief in yourself, belief in the players.”
United have reacted well to setbacks under Solskjaer, who has been at the helm for two years and a positive response will be crucial at Goodison Park before the international break.
“You have to be mentally strong,” the Norwegian said. “Of course there’s demands on a Man United player and a coach and a manager.
“There’s also an expectation because we are at the best and the biggest club in the world.”
Club great Solskjaer understands the pressures and expectations at Old Trafford better than most.
But the 1999 treble winner remains confident that he retains the backing of executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and the United hierarchy.
“With me, today it’s sunny in Manchester,” said Solskjaer. “I don’t expect the wind to turn. Of course there’s always pressure and expectations on us.
“But I’ve grown up here, or I became a man at Manchester United, and I’ve learnt how to deal with good and bad times.”