Ole Gunnar Solskjaer labelled Manchester United's 5-0 defeat at the hands of Liverpool as his "darkest day" as manager of the club.

United's poor start to the season hit a potential nadir on Sunday as Liverpool ran riot at Old Trafford.

Mohamed Salah became the first Premier League player to score an away hat-trick against United, with Naby Keita and Diogo Jota having put Jurgen Klopp's team in control inside the opening 15 minutes.

Paul Pogba came on from the bench for a calamitous 15-minute cameo in which he conceded possession for Salah's hat-trick goal before seeing red for a lunge on Keita, though United at least managed to keep the Reds out while down to 10.

Having seen their team go into half-time 4-0 down for the first time in a Premier League game, United's fans let their feelings known as the players and Solskjaer walked off, and the atmosphere hardly improved after the final whistle.

Solskjaer appears to be under mounting pressure, with United relying on last-minute winners to see off Villarreal and Atalanta in the Champions League in recent weeks, while they have lost three of their last four top-flight matches, conceding 11 times and scoring just three in return.

"It is not easy to say something apart from it is the darkest day I have had leading these players," a dejected Solskjaer told Sky Sports.

"We were not good enough individually and as a team, can't give a team like Liverpool those chances but unfortunately we did.

"The whole performance was not good enough. We created openings, they had chances and they have been clinical. The third goal decided the game."

Asked who had to take responsibility, Solskjaer replied: "It is mine, that is it. The coaching staff are very, very good, brilliant.

"I choose the way we approach the game, we were not clinical enough and gave too much space and when you give good players space they score."

United decided to try and press Liverpool from the off, a tactic that swiftly proved naive, though Solskjaer did not regret his approach. 

"We are at home, playing against Liverpool, we have gone here over the last two and half years and had a similar approach to high press but today they scored on their chances I think as United we should always try to stamp our authority on the game," he said.

"That fourth goal is when you go into half time with having to score one every 15 minutes. I know these boys are capable of it. The fourth, that was probably game over.

"You can look at last season we lose to Spurs 6-1 this is worse, miles worse. This is miles worse for me as a Manchester lad. I've just got to say we have to get over this as quickly as we can."

Solskjaer knows questions over his future will only increase, but he insisted he is in no mood to give in.

He added: "I have come too far, we have come too far as a group. We are too close to give up now.

"It is going to be a difficult one. The players will be low but there's loads of characters there. We know we are rock bottom, we can't feel any worse than this. Let's see where we take it."

Jurgen Klopp closed in on a milestone win in sensational style as Mohamed Salah's hat-trick inspired Liverpool to a 5-0 rout of Manchester United.

Matters look bleak for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with the pressure mounting on the United manager, who saw his team torn to shreds on Sunday.

Salah scored the Reds' final three goals, having teed up Naby Keita's opener, while Diogo Jota grabbed Liverpool's second. Paul Pogba's red card merely compounded United's misery.

It was a momentous day for Liverpool and a dismal one for United. Stats Perform looks at the records that tumbled in an historic result.

 

Klopp closes in on double century

Taking charge of his 229th match as Liverpool manager in the Premier League, Klopp claimed his 198th victory as Reds boss in all competitions. 

If including shoot-out victories, which Opta do not, Klopp has in fact already hit that mark.

He has also overtaken Rafael Benitez and Gerard Houllier (including matches as co-manager with Roy Evans) as the manager to have taken charge of the most games for the club in the top flight.

Klopp's team look well set for a title tilt. They have scored 19 goals in their first five away matches in the Premier League this season.

In English top-flight history only two sides have scored more after five away games – Manchester City in 2011-12 (20) and United in 1907-08 (20).

Salah in dreamland

It has been some season so far for Salah, as he moved onto 10 Premier League goals with a gift-wrapped hat-trick.

He is the first away player to net a hat-trick at Old Trafford since Ronaldo Nazario did so for Real Madrid in April 2003, while he is only the second player to do so for Liverpool, after Fred Howe in 1936.

Salah's goal tally in the Premier League now stands at 107, three clear of Didier Drogba as the highest-scoring African player in the competition's history.

The 29-year-old has scored in 10 consecutive appearances for the Reds in all competitions. Since he joined the club prior to the 2017-18 campaign, he is the only Premier League player to score in 10 successive matches.

 

Solemn times for Solskjaer

United were 2-0 down inside 15 minutes for the first time, and 4-0 down at half-time for the first time in any Premier League game.

The Red Devils have only lost by a larger margin in this fixture in October 1895 when Liverpool beat them 7-1 at Anfield. It is their largest margin of defeat in this fixture when playing at home.

Liverpool are only the second team in English top-flight history to win consecutive away games by a margin of five or more goals without conceding themselves, after United in February-March 1960.

It is the first time United have lost by a margin of at least five goals at Old Trafford without scoring since they slumped to a 5-0 defeat to Man City in 1955.

Pogba's calamitous cameo 

Pogba had a 15-minute cameo to forget. He replaced Mason Greenwood at half-time, but was trudging down the tunnel on the hour mark after lunging in on Keita, who had to be taken off on a stretcher.

He had 20 touches, made 16 passes and was robbed of possession in the build-up to Salah's hat-trick goal. It was one of five occasions he gave the ball away.

The France midfielder's red card was the 17th in Premier League matches between Manchester United and Liverpool – the only fixture with more red cards in the competition is Everton vs Liverpool (22).

Cristiano Ronaldo also struggled to have an impact, despite a disallowed goal. The 36-year-old previously featured in a 5-0 defeat during his time at Real Madrid, to Barcelona in November 2010.

Manchester City's 6-1 demolition of Manchester United at Old Trafford, 10 years and one day ago, was probably the worst defeat ever endured by Alex Ferguson.

In the club's modern history, even in the post-Fergie wilderness, there had never quite been an occasion to match it, even accounting for Tottenham's victory by the same scoreline last year.

There has now.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the hero of Barcelona 1999, knew a thing or two about creating spectacles as a player. As a manager, he still has the knack.

Manchester United 0, Liverpool 5. Has there ever been a more abject, visceral demolition of the 20-time English champions in the Premier League era? Has it ever looked this bad?

A goal down after five minutes and a missed Bruno Fernandes sitter. A hat-trick for Mohamed Salah, the first in the league away to United since QPR's Dennis Bailey in 1992. A disallowed goal for Cristiano Ronaldo. A 15-minute cameo for Paul Pogba that ended in a red card. A total of 35 home goals conceded in 2021, their worst such return for 60 years. The biggest win for Liverpool over their rivals since 1925. And hardly a whiff of surprise about the whole sordid thing.

As former midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger tweeted at full-time: "A devastating day for all Man Utd supporters and the club but it didn't come out of nowhere. It was not a surprise."

City's 6-1 win in October 2011 was a watershed moment; a giant step on the way to their first Premier League title. But it was still an aberration: after all, United finished level on points that season and responded by winning the trophy back a year later.

This was more in keeping with Liverpool and City's 3-0 wins over David Moyes' United. Those games, too, were barely contests, barely surprising given United's problems, and barely left the manager anywhere to hide.

The Glazers have stood by Solskjaer, resolutely, perhaps misguidedly. Watching United lose 3-1 at Anfield was enough for them to sack Jose Mourinho three years ago. If they tuned in to Sunday's match, if they saw homecoming hero Ronaldo eclipsed by Salah and 'legacy fans' leaving in droves at half-time, can they afford not to act?

United have played nine games since the fanfare of Ronaldo's goalscoring return against Newcastle United. They have won three of those, drawn one and lost five.

That's bad enough, but consider the circumstances. Only a last-second penalty save from David de Gea ensured the 2-1 win at West Ham; only Ronaldo's injury-time intervention salvaged an undeserved victory over Villarreal; only Tom Davies' strange decision to pass to the offside Yerry Mina, rather than shoot, meant Everton left Old Trafford with only a 1-1 draw.

Fine margins have been the difference between United's form being considered merely unacceptable, and the alarms this embarrassment will sound. Nobody who has watched them across those nine matches could seriously claim what happened against Liverpool could not have been foreseen.

The rain-soaked turf was a glistening canvas depiction of everything wrong about Solskjaer's team – if we needed reminding.

There are the collective tactical concerns, as seen for Naby Keita's opening goal, when Mason Greenwood and Aaron Wan-Bissaka gave up their positions to press Liverpool with all the ferocity and endeavour of an apathetic tortoise.

There are the individual mistakes, some of which would be incomprehensible for amateurs, never mind those playing for the world's most supported football club. Keita and Salah each scored with the United back five blocking not their route to de Gea's goal, but back to the halfway line. Before Diogo Jota's tap-in, Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw, defenders who cost a combined £110million, shied away from a loose ball as though under duress to keep dirt off the sponsor logos on their shirts.

United have committed eight errors leading to shots this season, the joint-most in the Premier League along with Wolves. But where Bruno Lage's men counter that through tackling – only eight sides have won more – United have won a league-low 61. When it comes to making amends for these mistakes, the Red Devils right now are either not interested or not capable.

Salah completed his hat-trick early in the second half, Ronaldo had a fine goal of his own disallowed by VAR, but many United fans were no longer in the stadium to watch. The loyalty to Solskjaer's legacy as a player has kept him immune to the kind of vitriol seen in the final days of Moyes, or Louis van Gaal, or Mourinho, but little served up by any of Fergie's successors was quite as horrifying as this.

United's daunting run of games since the October international break has yielded one win, two defeats, five goals scored and 11 conceded. With Tottenham, Atalanta and City to come next, you'd expect them to lose all three.

This is Manchester United's new normal: a total, shameful mess.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer often seems destined to fail at Manchester United, and this season the stakes appear higher.

With media scrutiny mounting, Solskjaer's future looked bleak at half-time against Atalanta on Wednesday, with United 2-0 down and staring at a fifth defeat in eight games across all competitions.

"There is pressure all the time. There is pressure on me of course but we've been through this before and come through it stronger as a team and as individuals," Solskjaer said before that match.

His players came good. Goals from Marcus Rashford, Harry Maguire and Cristiano Ronaldo, whose arrival seems to have presented more questions than answers regarding Solskjaer's tactical set-up, rescued a vital three points in the Champions League, but Sunday brings an altogether different challenge, with Liverpool in town.

How the managers match up

Prior to the clash with Atalanta, Solskjaer had taken charge of 162 games at United, with Jurgen Klopp having hit that figure at Liverpool back in September 2018.

Four months earlier, Liverpool had slipped to a 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League final. Strengthened by the arrivals of Alisson and Fabinho, they would go on to win the European trophy in 2019 – Klopp's first piece of silverware at Anfield. A Premier League title followed in 2019-20.

Yet looking back over the pair's first 162 matches at the helm, it is Solskjaer who can boast the better win percentage (54.9 compared to 53.1).

While Klopp recorded fewer defeats in those games (31 to 37), Solskjaer won 86 times, three more than the Liverpool boss managed.

Klopp did, however, take Liverpool to two finals in his first half-season in charge, only to lose both, in the EFL Cup and Europa League. His third final, and the last within his first 162 games, was the defeat to Madrid in Kiev.

Solskjaer, comparatively, has reached just one final – United going down on penalties in the Europa League showdown against Villarreal at the end of last season.

United scored 299 goals under Solskjaer before Wednesday, from an expected goals (xG) value of 269.6, suggesting the level of chances they have created has not quite matched the finishing. That xG figure outperforms Liverpool's xG of 259.9, though the Reds netted 327 times.

Defence has been a major cause for concern this term, but overall Solskjaer's United kept 59 clean sheets in 162 games prior to tackling Atalanta, conceding 168 goals.

An expected goals against (xGA) of 185.2 suggests United's goalkeepers had plenty to do, though Liverpool only kept 62 clean sheets in the same amount of matches under Klopp, conceding four more goals (172).

Alisson's signing in July 2018 has certainly proved key, given Liverpool's xGA from Klopp's first 162 games was 135.3, suggesting goalkeeping may have been responsible for some of the Reds' issues.

On the right track?

"We've progressed over the years since I was [first here for] half a season. Sixth, third, second. You can see the progress, development and improvement. This season we still want to improve. We've signed players that have raised expectations," Solskjaer said before the Atalanta game.

While the underlying metrics may back up Solskjaer's point, digging deeper presents a more worrying picture.

United's goal tallies have improved, yet Solskjaer's crux is clearly in defence. His team allowed 685 shots last season, 70 more than in 2019-20 from the same number of games (61), with their xGA leaping from 59.2 to 71.5.

Klopp's side, on the other hand, managed to get Liverpool's defeats down from 12 to nine (in both 2016-17 and 2017-18) to seven in his third full season.

As Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah hit their stride, Liverpool's goal totals ticked up, from 87 to 92 to 129, and their highest xGA value in this period was 49.5, way down on United's worst figure.

While there may be similarities in results, Klopp used the first half of his Liverpool spell to implement a style of play, and lay the groundwork for European and domestic triumphs.

Solskjaer will insist he has a vision of what his incarnation of United should be, and though his record against other 'big six' Premier League sides is decent (W13 D10 L10), Liverpool are unbeaten in 18 league games, the longest current run in the top four tiers of English football.

Away from Anfield, they have scored at least three goals in each of their last five Premier League games. United have not kept a clean sheet at home in nine top-flight matches and, despite the calibre of players brought in during Solskjaer's tenure, the old rivals look worlds apart.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insisted it is wrong to criticise Cristiano Ronaldo's work ethic as he launched a staunch defence of the Red Devils superstar.

Ronaldo was the hero again on Wednesday, scoring the match-winning goal in a thrilling 3-2 Champions League win over Atalanta, having trailed 2-0 at half-time.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner has scored six goals in eight matches across all competitions since returning to United from Juventus, though there has been some scrutiny of the 36-year-old amid the club's struggle for form.

Ronaldo has been criticised for not working hard or defending enough and as United prepare to host bitter Premier League rivals Liverpool on Sunday, Solskjaer backed the all-time leading scorer in men's international football.

"First of all, he's fit enough to do it still. But he's played this game 500 times before," Solskjaer told Sky Sports.

"He's been in that situation so many times, and it's one of them: 'I know what [team-mate Luke Shaw] is going to do, I know where I need to be and I'm still capable of doing it'. That's key.

"He's changed his position from being a wide forward into more of a box centre forward because he knows how to score a goal, he wants to score goals. When he first came, with all the tricks and the pace, he had the hunger - and he's still got the hunger.

"He's done what every player has to do throughout his career, you have to evolve."

Solskjaer added: "When Cristiano came to us, he'd not had a proper pre-season at Juventus and you can see he's gradually getting fitter and fitter.

"Now he feels: 'I'm getting towards the level I know I can be'. Wednesday night, the focus, the physical effort, the run… he had the highest amount of sprints, the longest sprint distance, the longest high-intensity distance.

"We talk about players who run a lot, he does as much as them. If people want to criticise his work ethic, that's completely wrong. You see him running down the channels, which he has to do as a centre forward.

"He does the work that we want him to do for the team. Of course, the team, when you have a player like him, you've got to get the best out of him, but he knows he's part of the jigsaw of that team and he's been brilliant."

United – sixth in the table and four points behind second-placed Liverpool – have won just one of their last 10 Premier League meetings against the Reds (D6 L3), losing this exact fixture 4-2 last season.

Solskjaer's United shipped four goals in a home Premier League game for only the fifth time in last season's encounter with Liverpool. The last team to score four-plus goals in consecutive top-flight visits to Old Trafford was Burnley in 1961-62 (won 4-1) and 1962-63 (won 5-2).

United are without a clean sheet in any of their last nine home league matches, their longest streak without one since a run of 10 between September 1970 and February 1971.

Meanwhile, United have only picked up eight points from their last seven home Premier League matches (W2 D2 L3), winning twice as many points in their previous seven at Old Trafford (16 – W5 D1 L1).

Cristiano Ronaldo says a period of adaptation for Manchester United is only natural after the club made three huge signings in the transfer window.

The Portugal forward also insists he has no plans to quit international football to prolong his club career, with the 36-year-old still one of the most prolific players in world football.

Ronaldo has scored six times for United since making his sensational return from Juventus, a move that came 12 years after he initially left Old Trafford for Real Madrid.

The signings of Ronaldo, his former Madrid team-mate Raphael Varane and Borussia Dortmund sensation Jadon Sancho had United fans dreaming of a first Premier League title since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.

But going into Sunday's crunch home clash with Liverpool, United are sixth in the table and five points behind leaders Chelsea, with Ronaldo's compatriot Bruno Fernandes an injury doubt.

Ronaldo has netted memorable late Champions League goals in the recent wins over Villarreal and Atalanta and he remains patient despite the pressure that is growing on manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

"We are in a moment in my opinion that Manchester do a few changes; they buy me, they buy Varane and Sancho," he said to Sky Sports.

"The adaptation will take time, even the system of the game that we play, but I think step by step we have to put it in our mind that everything is possible.

"I don't speak only about my individual stuff, I put the collective in first place. It's more easy to win individual stuff.

"Everyone should know their role. I know my role in the team, in the club - my role is to score goals, to help the team with my experience and know-how to understand the game.

"If everyone is thinking like that, sacrifice for the team, we will be a better team. We have fantastic supporters behind us, fantastic stadium, fantastic team, so we have to carry on."

United have won just one of their last 10 Premier League meetings with Liverpool (D6 L3), losing this exact fixture 4-2 last season, and will hope Ronaldo helps them to secure a different outcome this time.

Ronaldo recently became the highest scorer ever in international football and does not see the need to stop playing for Portugal, with the World Cup just over a year away.

He compared his drive to play on for his country with his club career, where he still pursues success despite holding the record for most Champions League goals (137). 

Asked about retiring from internationals, Ronaldo replied: "But why? I think it's not my time yet. It's not what people want, it's what I want. 

"It's when I feel that I'm not capable to run, to dribble, to shoot, if the power is gone - but I still have that stuff so I want to continue because I'm still motivated.

"It's the main word - [motivated] to do my stuff, to make people happy and my family happy and the fans and myself. 

"I want to put the level even higher. You speak about Portugal but in the Champions League I have the most goals, the most wins, assists - everything. 

"But I want to carry on. I like to play football. I feel good to make people happy."

United need to improve their form at Old Trafford in the Premier League.

Going into the Liverpool match, Solskjaer's men have only picked up eight points from their last seven home matches and are without a clean sheet in nine, their longest league run without one since 1971.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has commanded Manchester United to douse the blazing brilliance of Liverpool's "on-fire" forward Mohamed Salah.

The United manager knows Salah is capable of turning up at Old Trafford on Sunday and making a game-winning contribution, after scoring 12 goals in 11 games this season.

Six of those goals have come in Salah's last four games, including Champions League doubles against Porto and Atletico Madrid, and the Egypt international has only failed to net in one game this term: the 2-0 win over Burnley in August.

Although Solskjaer said he would side with Cristiano Ronaldo in any debate about who is the best player in the world, his admiration for Salah shone through.

"I'll always back Cristiano in any competition. He's unique and his goalscoring record has been fantastic and he keeps on scoring," Solskjaer said.

"But that being said, Salah at the moment is on fire. You've seen some of the goals he's scored lately. We know we need to be at our best to defend against him.

"Players like this don't come around very often and we've got to enjoy them when we watch them – from afar, not on Sunday, that's too close for me."

Wonder strikes against Manchester City and Watford in Liverpool's last two Premier League games have illustrated how well Salah is performing, and he sits alongside Jamie Vardy on seven goals at the top of the Premier League scoring chart.

Along with those goals in Europe, that lift him into double figures, Salah has found a consistency this season that makes him Liverpool's number one threat.

"So we've got to do a good job, but not just against him," Solskjaer said. "I'm a big admirer of the frontline they've had for many, many years now, with [Sadio] Mane and [Roberto] Firmino. Maybe [Diogo] Jota will play, who knows?

"They're players you have to focus on and you've got to be nailed on for 95 minutes to keep a clean sheet.

"When you play against a team at the level of Liverpool at the moment, they're on a great run of form, with some individuals' skills that you cannot almost defend against. But as a team we need to be compact, we need to be aggressive, we need to go out there and give every drop of nous and knowledge, strong mindset and physical energy.

"It's going to take everything to get results against the best teams in Europe and the world, and Liverpool are one of them at the moment."

Salah scored three goals in his two away games against United last season, netting twice in a 3-2 FA Cup defeat before hitting the fourth as Liverpool won 4-2 in the Premier League.

No Liverpool player has ever scored in three consecutive away games against United, while the Merseyside giants have not earned consecutive league wins at Old Trafford since January 2002.

Should Jurgen Klopp's men follow up last season's Premier League success at United with another victory, they would hold a seven-point cushion over their great rivals.

United have a disappointing recent record in league games against Liverpool, winning just one of their previous 10 encounters. This game has often failed to live up to expectations in recent seasons, with six of the last 10 ending in draws, and Liverpool coming out on top in the other three.

Solskjaer said he hoped the 3-2 win over Atalanta on Wednesday signalled "the end of a bad period for us" and that it might be "the start of something big". That is bold talk, given United have lost three of their last four domestic games, including a 4-2 setback at Leicester City last Saturday.

Liverpool are unbeaten in 18 in the Premier League, with the turmoil that plagued them at the start of the year banished and replaced by an optimism they can challenge for a second title in three years.

United are without a clean sheet in any of their last nine home league matches, their longest such run since a run of 10 between September 1970 and February 1971.

Although United finished ahead of Liverpool last season, Solskjaer was realistic enough to recognise it was injury chaos in the Anfield ranks that blunted the 2020-21 challenge from Klopp's men, with the likes of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez sitting out most of the season.

"They're one of the teams we're trying to chase. What they've done in the last four years is something we're striving towards and [trying] to go past them," Solskjaer said.

"We ended above them last season, they had a very bad spell of injuries, so now they're back to their best."

Bruno Fernandes could be missing through injury when Manchester United face Liverpool at Old Trafford, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has revealed.

The United playmaker suffered a knock in the dramatic 3-2 win against Atalanta on Wednesday, and along with Fred he is among a small group whose fitness is under observation.

Solskjaer said ahead of Sunday's Premier League headline fixture: "Games like Wednesday's are always going to bring knocks and bruises.

"Bruno might be one of them that might be a doubt, but he's doing everything he can to be ready. It's still just Friday, the game's on Sunday, so it will give everyone time.

"We might be two or three players down. Today [in training] we weren't everyone, so let's see Sunday."

To lose Fernandes would be a big blow to United's hopes of inflicting a telling early-season blow on their north-west rivals, with both teams having Premier League title aspirations.

The Portugal international has scored two goals in three games against Liverpool since arriving from Sporting CP in January 2020.

Solskjaer will send his players into battle against a Liverpool side who enter the weekend in second place, one point behind Chelsea. United sit sixth, four points further back, and to concede more ground even at this early stage of the season would be a troubling outcome for the Red Devils manager.

Should in-form Liverpool win, a seven-point gap would be a lot for United to claw back.

Solskjaer said: "It's a massive rivalry. Every time being a Manchester United player and getting the responsibility and honour to step out at Old Trafford against Liverpool, you give everything you have, and we know these games don't need any bigging up, it's a massive game.

"Of course, to be seven points behind, it's going to be a big distance. [If United win and the gap is] one point between, it's close."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knows Donny van de Beek is "not happy" and "frustrated" with a lack of opportunities at Manchester United.

The Netherlands international arrived from Ajax for a reported £40million last season but chances have been few and far between for the 24-year-old at Old Trafford.

Van de Beek has been afforded just 140 minutes of action across in competitions this term – 90 of those coming against West Ham in the EFL Cup – and the midfielder's frustrations were picked up by television cameras in a win over Villarreal last month.

The former Ajax man was spotted throwing his chewing gum in the direction of the United bench after Jesse Lingard was brought on from the bench.

However, asked about the incident after the Atalanta win – in which the Red Devils overturned a two-goal deficit to triumph 3-2 – Solskjaer joked to deflect any conflict, while admitting Van de Beek's frustrations.

"It’s wiser to throw away your chewing gum and not to swallow it," Solskjaer said to Dutch outlet RTL7. "We learned that as children.

"And giving your chewing gum to someone else is not possible in these Corona times either. Sensible, so I could see he was throwing it away.

"Donny is still working hard, of course, and at the moment it’s hard. I understand Donny is frustrated, he’s disappointed but he keeps on working every day with a big smile.

"I know he’s not happy, but he works hard and he’s a top professional. He knows that that’s the way that sometimes it works in football. At the moment he’s not playing but he doesn’t let himself down."

United came from two goals down in the Champions League to win for the third time on Wednesday – the joint-most in the competition.

Marcus Rashford's strike, which was the 300th goal of Solskjaer's tenure, started the comeback before Harry Maguire and Cristiano Ronaldo completed a remarkable turnaround.

Bruno Fernandes also created eight chances – the most by a United player in Europe since the 2003-04 season – and Solskjaer insisted Van de Beek, who was once again an unused substitute again, must remain patient in waiting for a chance.

"I can’t go into every single player," the head coach continued. "But if you see our team I thought our performance was really good. He’s got some good players that he plays with.

"He keeps training well and I enjoy having him there and I hope for him that he gets his chances."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was "sure" Manchester United would beat Atalanta after match-winner Cristiano Ronaldo completed a dramatic Champions League comeback on Wednesday.

Ronaldo was the hero again at Old Trafford, where United overturned a two-goal deficit to stun visiting Atalanta 3-2 on matchday three in Group F.

United trailed 2-0 before the half-hour mark in Manchester after Mario Pasalic and Merih Demiral shocked the Theatre of Dreams.

Reeling after a 4-2 Premier League defeat at Leicester City last time out and just two wins in their previous seven games, the Red Devils were given a glimmer of hope when Marcus Rashford pulled a goal back eight minutes into the second half – the club's 300th strike in all competitions under Solskjaer.

United captain Harry Maguire equalised with 15 minutes remaining before superstar Ronaldo stepped up to complete the fightback nine minutes from time.

On what he said at half-time, Solskjaer told BT Sport: "I said make sure we get the next goal, because then we win the game.

"As long as we don’t concede I was pretty sure we would win the game. It was just about taking chances."

"I thought we played well first half too. Two chances, two goals. It had to stop if we are to survive," Solskjaer said after United rallied from two or more goals down for the third time – no side has done so more often in the Champions League.

"We have a habit of doing this at this club. I thought we played well and they scored a goal out of nothing and then another set-piece. But they never stopped believing and kept going."

"The fans are a big, big part of this club," Solskjaer added. "The singing section here today kept the players going in their belief. That is what you do at Manchester United on a Champions League night."

Solskjaer defended Ronaldo following some criticism that he does not work hard or defend enough for the Premier League giants.

Ronaldo has now scored in three consecutive Champions League games for United for the second time – the 36-year-old five-time Ballon d'Or winner previously doing so in November 2007 en route to lifting the trophy with the Red Devils.

“If anyone wants to criticise him for work rate or attitude, just look at the way he runs around in this game," he said.

Solskjaer has found himself under growing pressure amid United's poor form and performances and when it was put to him whether the squad had played for him midweek, the Norwegian responded: "Don't disrespect the players.

"They played for Man United and they are the luckiest men in the world because they're the ones who get to play for Man United and millions of boys and girls would love to do that."

Cristiano Ronaldo once again scored a late winner as Manchester United overturned a two-goal deficit against Atalanta to win 3-2 and move top of Champions League Group F at the halfway point.

Mario Pasalic broke the deadlock after just 15 minutes at Old Trafford, with Merih Demiral heading home to double the blow before the half-hour mark on Wednesday.

Marcus Rashford pulled one back after the break as he scored the 300th goal of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's tenure before Harry Maguire levelled with 15 minutes of normal time remaining.

Ronaldo, who scored a stoppage-time winner against Villarreal, then climbed the highest to cap a memorable comeback and move the Red Devils to the summit.

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer came out swinging as he hit out at the media for the coverage and interpretation of his recent comments about Marcus Rashford.

England international Rashford made his first appearance of the season in the 4-2 weekend defeat to Leicester City, scoring one of United's goals.

But in his pre-match news conference on Friday, Solskjaer appeared to pedal a trope that was used to undermine Rashford's charitable efforts during the coronavirus pandemic by certain sections of society, urging him to "prioritise" football.

Solskjaer said: "You know what he has done off the pitch as well, because he has done some fantastic things, and now to prioritise, maybe prioritise his football and focus on football because he's got a challenge on his hands here at Manchester United, he has a challenge on his hands to play for England."

Many considered Solskjaer's comments to be a veiled criticism of Rashford's off-the-pitch endeavours, which helped raise enough money for the FareShare charity to distribute the equivalent of more than 21 million meals to struggling children and families.

His continued efforts saw him honoured as a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) and he also became the youngest ever recipient of an honorary degree from the University of Manchester.

Media speculation suggested Rashford and his entourage were annoyed by Solskjaer's comments last week, and ahead of Wednesday's Champions League clash with Atalanta, the Norwegian addressed the "elephant in the room" immediately with the 23-year-old sat next to him.

"We are so unbelievably proud of what Marcus has done off the pitch," he began.

"You [journalists] know what was said and you made headlines out of one little comment that I never intended to be the focus.

"I was speaking about Marcus and how it must be nice for the boy to be going into training not focusing on his shoulder or ankle or his back, and I think you know that. Now he can just enjoy his football.

"So, no questions on that, I just wanted to start with that one."

Media speculation suggested Rashford and his entourage were annoyed by Solskjaer's comments last week, and ahead of Wednesday's Champions League clash with Atalanta, the Norwegian addressed the "elephant in the room" immediately with the 23-year-old sat next to him.

"We are so unbelievably proud of what Marcus has done off the pitch," he began.

"You [journalists] know what was said and you made headlines out of one little comment that I never intended to be the focus.

"I was speaking about Marcus and how it must be nice for the boy to be going into training not focusing on his shoulder or ankle or his back, and I think you know that. Now he can just enjoy his football.

"So, no questions on that, I just wanted to start with that one."

The awkward headlines came at a particularly troubling time for United and Solskjaer as they have endured an underwhelming start to 2021-22 that has comprised of just five wins in 11 matches across all competitions.

Solskjaer is under increasing pressure with performances leaving a lot to be desired, and his job security was a key subject during Tuesday's news conference.

But he mostly cut a calm figure as he faced the tough questions.

"It doesn't affect me but of course you see some of the comments," he said when asked about Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher's assessment United should have a better manager than Solskjaer.

"We've got Liverpool on Sunday as well, so Jamie is always looking at these little things.

"I've got my values, my way of managing, I believe in myself. As long as the club believes in me, I'm pretty sure Jamie Carragher's opinion isn't going to change that.

"We've progressed over the years. Since I was here for half a season, we've finished third, second – you could see progress, development.

"This season we still want to improve. We signed players who raised expectations.

"There's pressure on me of course, but we've come through this before stronger as individuals and as a team.

"I'm in dialogue with the club all the time, so that's an open and honest discussion all the time."

Is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer running out of time at Old Trafford?

Manchester United are already five points off the pace in the Premier League and pressure is mounting.

United, though, are believed to be firmly in favour of sticking with their manager.

 

TOP STORY – SOLSKJAER WANTED AT THE WHEEL

Manchester United are still backing under-fire manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, according to Fabrizio Romano.

United slumped to a 4-2 Premier League defeat to Leicester City at the weekend, which has left the Red Devils with just two wins from their past seven games across all competitions.

As pressure mounts on Solskjaer, United still reportedly have faith in the Norwegian amid links with the likes of Antonio Conte, Zinedine Zidane and Erik ten Hag.

 

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato reports Serie A champions Inter are ready to battle Arsenal for Madrid forward Luka Jovic. The Serbia international has struggled for form and fitness in the Spanish capital.

PSG want to swap Mauro Icardi for Barcelona's Sergio Aguero, claims El Nacional. The reports says Lionel Messi wants to reunite with countryman Aguero, who left Manchester City for Barca, only for Messi to join PSG.

- Monaco's Aurelien Tchouameni, Borussia Dortmund's Axel Witsel, Denis Zakaria of Borussia Monchengladbach and Ajax's Ryan Gravenberch are among Juventus' transfer targets as they look to add options in midfield, per Tuttosport. Tchouameni has also been linked with Chelsea, Manchester United, Madrid, Liverpool and Manchester City, while Roma have been eyeing Zakaria.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted that he "made a couple of bad decisions" as Manchester United slipped to a 4-2 defeat against Leicester City at the King Power Stadium.

The loss saw United's 29-game unbeaten away run in the Premier League come to an end, and the Red Devils have managed just one point from their last three league games.

Solskjaer's men took the lead, but they were then overhauled and conceded a third goal less than a minute after pulling level again, before a stoppage-time goal for the Foxes sealed the result.

The Norwegian manager was unhappy with the manner of the goals his side shipped, but he shouldered the responsibility for the result which means United have won just once in their last five games across all competitions, losing three.

"When you look at the game, the four goals we conceded are all very poor," Solskjaer said to Sky Sports. "We didn't deserve to carry on the [unbeaten away] run. The performance was not good enough.

"We got a very good goal with Mason [Greenwood] and we were knocking on the door for another, but then some sloppy play and we concede. It was end to end but they created more chances. Two goals from set-pieces is disappointing and then seconds after equalising that should not happen [for Jamie Vardy's goal].

"I pick the team and Harry [Maguire] has showed no reaction [to his injury]. I hold my hands up if that doesn't work out and I probably made a couple of bad decisions.

"Lately, we have not been in great form and lost too many points. Something may have to change. Do we need more legs in there? What do we need? It is one that we have to really analyse. The one positive was Marcus [Rashford] coming back in. He’s got legs and is sharp so that's a big bonus.

"I've got many good players and every game is a different game. I am not going to put excuses up for the team I put out because it is full of top footballers and that was not good enough."

Despite United's poor form, Solskjaer insists he is not feeling the strain and is confident the team have the capacity to improve under his guidance.

"Every time you lose, the pressure builds of course, but we are used to living with that pressure," Solskjaer told the BBC. 

"We are Man United; setbacks have happened before, worse performances, and we've got to bounce back on Wednesday. I'm going to do the job as well as I can; I believe in this team."

United's first opportunity to rectify their issues comes on Wednesday as they host Serie A side Atalanta in the Champions League.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants star forward Marcus Rashford to focus on football following his recovery from a shoulder injury.

Rashford underwent shoulder surgery in August and is in line to make his first appearance of the season when United visit Leicester City in the Premier League on Saturday.

The 23-year-old England international has been hailed for his off-field work, awarded an MBE in his campaign to end child poverty.

But Solskjaer urged Rashford to prioritise his football career moving forward.

"I know that we will see the best of Marcus in the years to come," Solskjaer told reporters. "He has done remarkable things at a young age but he is now coming into the best age for a footballer and he is more experienced.

"He has [had] time to reflect. You know what he has done off the pitch as well, because he has done some fantastic things, and now to prioritise, maybe prioritise his football and focus on football because he's got a challenge on his hands here at Manchester United, he has a challenge on his hands to play for England.

"I think Marcus is one of those who takes up those challenges and is going to.

"He is going to express himself and his talent and he knows that we want a lot from him but we are going to give him the time to get back to what he was and what he can be."

United – fourth in the Premier League and two points off the pace – are looking to extend their record unbeaten away run in the league to 30 games (W19 D10).

The Red Devils have not conceded more than once in any of their last 15 on the road (seven conceded in total) – their longest such run in league football.

United have the player with the most overall chances created (Bruno Fernandes, 23), the most chances created from set plays (Luke Shaw, 11) and the most assists (Paul Pogba, seven) in the Premier League so far this season.

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