Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 25 August 2019

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer ready for 'big challenge' of leading Manchester United's revival

Six defeats in past eight games has led to questions surrounding the Norwegian's long-term suitability for the role, despite his record-breaking start

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has called for a response from his Manchester United players when they face Manchester City. AP Photo
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has called for a response from his Manchester United players when they face Manchester City. AP Photo

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said on Tuesday he faces a "big challenge" to return Manchester United to the top of English football but insisted he is the right man for the job following his team's alarming slump in form.

Solskjaer oversaw a remarkable run when he took over on an interim basis to replace Jose Mourinho in December, closing the gap on the Premier League top-four and guiding the club into the Uefa Champions League quarter-finals with a last-16 win over Paris Saint-Germain.

The Norwegian's fine start earned him the managerial job on a full-time basis, but a sharp dive in results has seen United lose six of their past 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 insisted that is not the case.

"Well I would like to say yes but it's not down to me to say that," he told a news conference on Tuesday. "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 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 conceded 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."

Updated: April 23, 2019 03:07 PM

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