Sport Solskjaer calls on United players to improve after Palace defeat
Solskjaer is putting out fires at Man United before the season begins
Mason Greenwood being sent home in disgrace, Harry Maguire in a Greek jail and Paul Pogba going down with Covid-19, must have left Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scared to pick up the phone. To add to his problems, when the United boss and his players met for a team-bonding barbecue at Carrington on Thursday — three weeks before the close of the transfer window and 48 hours before Saturday's opening game at home to Crystal Palace — he only had one new signing.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told his Manchester United players to look at themselves in the mirror rather than worry about the lack of new signings after losing their opening game at home to Crystal Palace.
Donny van de Beek, United’s sole recruit so far in this transfer window, scored on his debut following a £40million move from Ajax but that was the only positive on a dismal evening at Old Trafford.
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Told that defender Luke Shaw had said United need reinforcements before the deadline next month, Solskjaer reminded his players that they are capable of performing significantly better.
‘We have to all look at ourselves in the mirror,’ said the United boss. ‘We can play so much better than today. If you look at the players we have on the pitch and on the bench, we have to look within first.
‘It was an off-day. Everyone knows they can improve, and we need to improve quickly.
‘Today was a performance you don’t see often. These players are better than that.’
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Solskjaer admitted that United played like a team who finished last season three weeks after most of their Premier League rivals due to Europa League commitments, and are still short of match sharpness.
‘I’m very disappointed but sometimes you can’t be too surprised when we are not at our best yet because this is the first game,’ he added.
‘We’ve played until the middle of August and had a very short and strange pre-season. I was hoping for better today but it wasn’t to be.
‘Roy (Hodgson) said they had four friendlies and this was their third competitive game. They deserved the points. They were sharper than us in the tackles.
‘We all need time to get back to our best but we are playing catch-up. We didn’t defend as well as we could have done, but I don’t want to point the finger at individuals.’
Solskjaer disputed the penalty awarded for handball against Victor Lindelof but had no complaints over the decision to retake it after David de Gea edged off his line to keep out Jordan Ayew’s spot-kick with what would have been his first penalty save in four-and-a-half years.
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‘The ball comes from so close to Vic, where can he put his hands?’ asked Solskjaer.
‘The decision to retake it was the right one because both heels were one inch off the line. It’s harsh on David but right if you follow the rules.’
Zaha converted the retake and then scored a second goal against his old club, although Hodgson did not read too much into the player’s return to Old Trafford.
‘I don’t think one should always link performances to what went on in someone’s life five or six years ago,’ said the Palace boss. ‘It’s about the present and the future, and I’m very much looking forward to working with him in future.’
On the penalty, he added: ‘You have no idea on the touchline. I long for the simpler version of handball, but I’ve been outvoted I suppose.
‘It was given and, as far as the goalkeeper coming off the line, I suppose that’s what VAR is for. But if you ask me if I saw it from the touchline, I didn’t.’
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