Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: ‘Pressure is a privilege’ at Man United

Harry Maguire out of Villarreal clash and facing up to a month out with calf injury

Ole Gunnar Solskjær accepts managing Manchester United is a "results business" and is confident of arresting a run of three defeats in four games, though he will have to do so without Harry Maguire, who will be out for up to a month with a calf problem.

United host Villarreal in Wednesday’s second Champions League group match, after losing the opener at Young Boys. Solskjær’s side followed this by beating West Ham in the Premier League, before reverses to the same team in the Carabao Cup and Aston Villa in the league.

Solskjær was asked about the comments of Gary Neville, a former United teammate and now Sky Sports pundit, who claimed that given the backing the Norwegian has enjoyed, United have to claim a trophy by the end of next season. In the summer Solskjær strengthened by signing Jadon Sancho, Raphaël Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo.

“The pressure is a privilege,” the manager said. “To work in this environment, you have to embrace that pressure. If he says we have to win a trophy – well, yes I’ve been backed [and]the backing I have got says to me we are sticking to our plan, but we are in a results business. Expectations have improved with our signings. We are here to win, I am here to win – don’t think twice about that. Gary knows that.


“We have an obligation at this club to win, and an obligation to win here in a certain style. Sometimes that is risky and you lose one or two [games], but we’ll get there – I’m confident we’ll get there with a consistency in results and hopefully in April and May we’ll be competing for trophies.

“My focus is always on winning the next game short term, and long term on squad building, to keep improving, winning. So my focus is winning this game and getting back on track as we didn’t start well enough [in the competition]. Then we focus on the league again from Thursday morning, a position where we are still up there [a point behind the leaders, Liverpool].”

Maguire and Luke Shaw were each forced off injured during the Villa defeat. "Luke has been in today [Tuesday]so I'll give him a chance to be involved – he didn't train with the team," Solskjær said. "Harry is more or less definitely out – it doesn't look good. It's his calf – that might take a few weeks so let's see how quickly he recovers. With Aaron Wan-Bissaka suspended we'll have to make a few changes."

Victor Lindelöf and Eric Bailly are in contention to replace Maguire and partner Varane at centre-back, and Diogo Dalot should be drafted in to cover one of Wan-Bissaka or Shaw at full-back. Solskjær, though, could change to a wing-back system.

“You always look at your opponent and sometimes have to make adjustments, sometimes you just tweak it,” he said. “The more injuries in defence the more you might have to do tactical changes. Hopefully Luke can be involved.”

United’s previous meeting with Villarreal was May’s Europa League final penalty shootout defeat. “We have to be better [than then]– play with more tempo to create chances,” Solskjær said. - Guardian