Solskjaer outlines Lingard's importance amid exit rumours

By Sports Desk January 06, 2020

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has backed Jesse Lingard to be an important player for Manchester United, amid rumours of the midfielder being set for an exit from Old Trafford.

England international Lingard endured a frustrating 2019 for his club, finishing the year without a goal or an assist in the Premier League.

The 27-year-old has made 26 appearances in all competitions this season, with a report by the Daily Mail claiming he is now represented by Mino Raiola, who counts Paul Pogba among his clients.

With Pogba's future uncertain, reports have also surfaced suggesting Lingard could be set to leave United, amid links of a swap plus cash deal for Leicester City playmaker James Maddison.

"Jesse has had his ups and downs as I've spoken about before but against Manchester City and Tottenham, [there were] examples of how important he can be for us in difficult games," Solskjaer told a news conference ahead of Tuesday's EFL Cup semi-final first leg at home to holders and local rivals City. "We want him back scoring and making assists.

"There's no one who runs as much, he's a great trigger in the pressing, a lively bubbly character. I don't think you see as much social media from Jesse as you used to.

"He's a player I've known for a long time. He's got his head down and is working hard, getting back to the Jesse I knew."

United's hectic fixture list has been compounded by an FA Cup third-round replay, with the Red Devils drawing 0-0 at Wolves on Saturday - failing to muster a single shot on target throughout the match.

However, United impressed in the first Manchester derby of the season, winning 2-1 on December 7 thanks to goals from Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.

And though Solskjaer is waiting on the fitness of Martial, Scott McTominay and Harry Maguire ahead of the semi-final derby, he is confident his side can replicate the level of performance they display at the Etihad Stadium.

"We're going to aim for performances like that," Solskjaer, whose side beat Jose Mourinho's Tottenham in the match before the derby, added.

"There were two good days against Tottenham and City in a short spell but every game lives its own life. When you get highs like that I'm sure they will look back on it and that's the Man United we want to see, but we can improve on that one.

"City had Port Vale at home [in the FA Cup], could rest a few. No matter what team [Pep Guardiola] plays it's going to be a good team and we'll put a strong team out.

"I can't give you the team at the moment, because I don't think the boys know who's fit and available yet either.

"City are back winning games but form goes out of the window when we play each other. We know they're a top team. I admire Pep's team, they've raised the bar so much since he came. The standards set are something to aim for."

Related items

  • Coronavirus: Premier League stars spread the word to 'stay at home, save lives' Coronavirus: Premier League stars spread the word to 'stay at home, save lives'

    With the Premier League season on hold until April 30 at the earliest, the English top-flight's big names still managed to get their message across on Saturday.

    The Premier League, along with the majority of sporting tournaments and events across the globe, is currently suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    Many nations are in total or near-total lockdown, with people only allowed to leave their homes for essential trips and exercise.

    Though there is no sport to keep people entertained, some of the biggest names – both players and managers – from the Premier League came together on Saturday at 1500 GMT to spread the message: "stay at home, save lives."

     

    Using his official Twitter and Instagram accounts, Manchester City and England forward Raheem Sterling shared a video.

    "We need to stay at home, let's help our NHS by staying home, only leave if you need food, medicine or exercise," Sterling said. "The NHS have been doing a fantastic job so let's help them continue doing their wonderful work."

    He was also joined by his City team-mates Aymeric Laporte and Benjamin Mendy, as well as the club's ladies captain Steph Houghton.

    Across the city, Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer also offered his support to the campaign.

    "Stay home, protect the NHS, save lives," the Norwegian said in a video posted to United's Twitter feed.

    Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta tested positive for coronavirus on March 12 and, having now recovered, he also shared the message.

    "I encourage everybody, please be responsible and stay at home as much as possible," the Spaniard said.

    Meanwhile, Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard said: "To help save lives, you must stay home. Only leave home to buy essential food, medicine or for individual exercise and always stay two metres apart. This is an urgent message. Stay home, protect the NHS, save lives."

    Premier League leaders Liverpool shared a graphic which read: "Stay home, protect the NHS, save lives."

    Tottenham striker and England captain Harry Kane did not share a video, but wrote in a post on Twitter: "Saturday 3pm normally means football. But at the moment it's far more important everyone stays home. Do your bit. Protect the NHS, save lives."

  • Rashford edging closer to full fitness: I feel 10 times better now Rashford edging closer to full fitness: I feel 10 times better now

    Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford is in a "much better place" than a month ago as he nears a return to full fitness.

    Rashford has been out since mid-January due to a back injury, with United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer saying earlier this month the club would not rush his comeback.

    The England international is making good progress, though, and suggests he will be ready to resume training once the squad are cleared to go back to work after the coronavirus pandemic.

    "I feel much better," Rashford told Sky Sports News. "I have a scan in another couple of days and that should solidify it, but I feel much better compared to two or three weeks ago.

    "I feel 10 times better now. For me, now it's just about getting ready to build back up to training and then playing games for the team.

    "I'm in a much better place. I'm much happier than I was about a month ago, so things are looking positive."

    Rashford says his recent rehabilitation has been carried out at home due to the restrictions put in place to control the impact of COVID-19.

    "Everyone is just dealing with the circumstances as well as they can," he added.

    "I've just been in my house doing my gym work and recovery, reading books, watching Netflix and just doing what I can do to make the time pass further.

    "There's not really anything you can do that comes close to being in the changing room and being in the team, so I'm not trying to chase that high.

    "I had to have time off anyway because of my injury, but I'm fortunate enough to have a bike in the gym downstairs. Not much in that sense has actually changed for me because I can still do my daily routine that I was doing."

    Rashford is also heading up a campaign for the FareShare charity, which aims to raise £100,000 to help supply food to children who usually have free school meals but are currently unable to access them.

    "I didn't know how high the numbers were of kids not eating at home other than school meals. That number kind of shocked me," Rashford said.

    "And then I remember speaking to a friend who was saying there was an opportunity where we can help these people and FareShare allowed us to make it work.

    "I don't think I've actually ever done something at such short notice before. I thought let's try and get to £100,000 and right now we're on £97,000."

  • Fifty points behind Liverpool & clean sheet woe - Solskjaer's first year as permanent Man Utd boss Fifty points behind Liverpool & clean sheet woe - Solskjaer's first year as permanent Man Utd boss

    It is easy to lose track of time in these strange days of lockdowns and isolations caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

    Right now it seems an eternity ago, yet it was only a year to the day – March 28, 2019 – that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was appointed as Manchester United's full-time manager.

    The Red Devils had won 14 of their 19 games in all competitions during Solskjaer's temporary stint, including a famous Champions League last-16 second-leg comeback at Paris Saint-Germain.

    Rio Ferdinand had demanded United hand his fellow club icon a blank contract to sign and the good times were, it seemed, on their way back to Old Trafford.

    And yet after all that early promise, it has been a year largely of stagnation. Twelve months of two steps forward, then a couple back. Those early successes seem like halcyon days, although there were encouraging signs prior to the suspension of the Premier League as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

    Below, we have taken a look at how Solskjaer's United compare to the other "big six" (Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal) over the past 12 months in the Premier League with the help of Opta data.

    ONLY HALF AS GOOD AS SIZZLING REDS

    If Manchester United knocked Liverpool off their (insert naughty word here) perch, then Jurgen Klopp's Reds have conquered all in front of them in their bid to return to it.

    Liverpool's wait for a Premier League title may have been frustratingly held up but over the past year they have accumulated an astonishing 103 points from 36 top-flight matches.

    That is 22 more than Manchester City, second in our table for this span, have accumulated.

    United are a whopping 50 points adrift of Liverpool's accumulation having played a game more. Indeed, their tally of 53 is only the seventh best and is fewer than Wolves (56) and Crystal Palace (55).

    Chelsea have managed 63 and are fourth behind Leicester City (64), but United have amassed more points than both Tottenham (51) and Arsenal (50).

     

    LAGGING BEHIND IN WINS AND GOALS

    A slight concern for United fans is the fact they have won just 14 of the 37 league games played during Solskjaer's permanent stewardship thus far.

    Of the so-called "big six", only Arsenal (12) have triumphed in fewer outings, with Tottenham on the same number and Chelsea (18), City (26) and Liverpool (34) all ahead.

    In the same period, only Spurs – now managed by the man Solskjaer replaced, Jose Mourinho – have lost more games, with 14 to United's 12.

    The January signing of Bruno Fernandes has gone some way to helping United's creativity void in midfield, though their return of 51 goals is significantly lower than Liverpool (85) and City (84).

    Only the Gunners (50) have managed fewer, with Chelsea (64) and Spurs (57) both ahead of Solskjaer's side in this bracket.

    It comes as little surprise that United also struggle in terms of shot conversion (9 per cent). Chelsea (10 per cent), Spurs, City, Arsenal (all 12 per cent) and Liverpool (15 per cent) all perform better.

    It is not necessarily for a lack of efforts, either. United have registered more shots (544) and shots on target (203) than both Arsenal (411 and 141) and Spurs (486 and 169).

     

    FEWER CLEAN SHEETS THAN A HOTEL LAUNDRY ROOM

    Defensively, United stand up reasonably well against their five major rivals. They have conceded fewer goals (44) than each of Arsenal (48), Spurs (47) and Chelsea (45). Liverpool (25) and City (33), unsurprisingly, lead in that department too.

    But United have not been able to keep too many clean sheets. Indeed, they have denied opposition sides from scoring on just eight occasions. Only Tottenham - with seven - have a worse record.

    United have faced 142 shots on target, which is less than Spurs (180) and Arsenal (185).

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.