EPL

Solskjaer 'would rather have a hole in the squad than an a*****e' at Man Utd

By Sports Desk May 21, 2020

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says he would "rather have a hole in the squad than an a*****e" as he praised the improved mentality at the club.

After an impressive start to life in the Old Trafford dugout, initially as interim boss in December 2018, Solskjaer endured a miserable end to last season, with two wins in their final 12 games in all competitions.

A humiliating 4-0 defeat to Everton at Goodison Park prompted Solskjaer to state that certain players would not be a part of his planned rebuild of the squad.

In the next transfer window, the United boss allowed Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez to leave for Inter without signing a replacement forward, while the loaning of Chris Smalling to Roma was also sanctioned.

United spent big on Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James before landing Bruno Fernandes in January for an initial fee of close to £47million.

The Red Devils have endured mixed form this term but seemed to be back on track before the season was suspended amid the coronavirus pandemic, with United on an 11-game unbeaten run that included a 2-0 derby win over Manchester City.

Solskjaer says the mental fortitude of his squad is far more positive now that there are no more "personal agendas" among the players.

Speaking to the United We Stand fanzine, he said: "I'd rather have a hole in the squad than an a******e. Personality is so important. We're a team in a team environment.

"You want players to have a bit of ego and edge, but they have to be able to adapt.

"In March 2019, players were physically tired, mentally tired and we had injuries. The players started with negative thinking, whereas now it's positive thinking.

"There were other things I didn't like last year, some personal agendas which couldn't be sorted out until the summer.

"There will always be players who want to play more in football, but if a team is to be successful then players have to be available at different times. I feel in this group we don't have one bad apple."

United's poor form at the end of 2018-19 came after their shock 3-1 win away to Paris Saint-Germain that saw them reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

"When you win, everything is easy. It's when you hit difficult times that you can see who you want and who has the right mentality," said Solskjaer.

"We didn't see that until after Paris, when we went into a bad run. That's when I saw who I could build a long-term, successful squad around. You need some egos in football, but it has to be team first.

"I could see more and more at the end of the season what needed improving."

Related items

  • Pioli 'cannot imagine' Milan without Donnarumma as talks with Ibrahimovic continue Pioli 'cannot imagine' Milan without Donnarumma as talks with Ibrahimovic continue

    Stefano Pioli "cannot imagine" Milan without Gianluigi Donnarumma and says the club are convinced veteran striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic should stay for another season.

    Milan director Ricky Massara revealed last week that discussions are ongoing over new deals for both players.

    Donnarumma made his debut as a 16-year-old in 2015-16 and is contracted to the Rossoneri until 2021, while the short-team deal signed by Ibrahimovic in January has expired.

    And head coach Pioli, who signed a two-year extension of his own last month, is eager for both players to pen fresh terms.

    "I cannot imagine a Milan without Donnarumma," he told La Repubblica. "He is 21 years old, he already has experience and has even been captain. 

    "He is already among the top three or four goalkeepers in the world and will become the best."

    Pioli added: "Ibrahimovic makes everything easy. It is wrong to refer to age with him. He is 100 per cent a professional and makes every training session competitive.

    "Paolo [Maldini], [Ivan] Gazidis, Massara and myself are all convinced he should continue with us.

    "From the economic perspective, it is right that I stay out of things, but we are all aware of what he has given us."

    Milan ended the 2019-20 campaign strongly by going 13 games without defeat in all competitions upon their return to action in June.

    Pioli was rewarded with a new deal and insists he paid little notice to speculation that Ralf Rangnick had been lined up to replace him during the close-season.

    "Gazidis and the Elliott fund kept their word," he said. "They told me I would be judged at the end of the season.

    "It didn't make sense to waste energy on things I was unable to control. I've not seen how Rangnick's teams play. I only concentrated on my own work with my players and staff."

  • Spain to play Portugal in October friendly Spain to play Portugal in October friendly

    Spain have announced they will travel to Portugal for a friendly on October 7. 

    The fixture between the neighbouring countries will be staged in Lisbon ahead of both featuring in Nations League games during the October international window. 

    Luis Enrique's squad are scheduled to host Switzerland on October 10 before travelling to Ukraine three days later - Germany are the other team in Group 4. 

    Defending champions Portugal, meanwhile, are away to France on October 11, followed by a home game against Sweden.

    Spain are also set for friendly duty against the Netherlands in November, with that meeting originally set to take place in March before the coronavirus pandemic caused major changes to the schedule.

    Euro 2020 was pushed back a year due to the COVID-19 crisis, with the tournament now set for June and July in 2021.

  • Pogba 'the ideal gift' for Pirlo at Juventus, says Toni Pogba 'the ideal gift' for Pirlo at Juventus, says Toni

    Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba would be the "ideal gift" for Andrea Pirlo following his appointment as Juventus head coach, according to former team-mate Luca Toni.

    The France international won eight major honours in four seasons with Juve - three of those playing alongside Pirlo - before returning to Old Trafford in 2016.

    Pogba was strongly linked with a move back to the Allianz Stadium last year and is into the final season of his United contract, though there is an option to extend that by 12 months.

    Retired forward Toni, who played with Pirlo at both club and international level, believes Pogba would be the perfect signing to mark a new chapter at former club Juventus.

    "Knowing Andrea, he will start building from midfield," he told Tuttosport. "The ideal gift would be Pogba. I don't know if that's possible, but it would certainly be the best option.

    "Andrea will not be a coach who focuses on defending and counter-attacking. He loves to dominate the ball and will want to impose that on his team.

    "I don't know what system he will use and I don't think it matters. Andrea is intelligent and flexible."

    Pirlo was named Juve's new head coach on Saturday, hours after Maurizio Sarri's sacking on the back of the Italian champions' last-16 exit against Lyon in the Champions League.

    Fabio Capello tipped Pirlo to replicate the success of three-time Scudetto-winning boss Antonio Conte, but Toni thinks he is more similar to Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola.

    "Character wise, he's more like Pep," he said. "Having said that, Antonio impressed him a lot during his three years at Juventus.

    "But in terms of group management, he was fortunate enough to be coached by the two best: [Carlo] Ancelotti and [Max] Allegri.

    "All useful experiences, but in the end, he will be himself. He will be Pirlo and he will go his own way. Without pretending or copying anyone."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.