Solskjaer needs fast start to dispel doubts

Manager insists team needs to start season on a high against Chelsea


Afp August 10, 2019
PRESSURE ON MANAGERS: Frank Lampard will take charge of his first competitive game in charge of Chelsea, while Solskjaer's honeymoon period is over. PHOTO: AFP

MANCHESTER: Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insists he does not perceive fans' frustration over the Red Devils business in the transfer window, but needs a fast start to the new Premier League season against Chelsea on Sunday to turn the tide of opinion at Old Trafford.

Frank Lampard will take charge of his first competitive game in charge of Chelsea, but while some of the pressure on the Blues' record goalscorer to make an instant impact has been eased to due a transfer ban this summer, Solskjaer's honeymoon period is over.

The Norwegian enjoyed an incredible start to his time in charge as caretaker boss last season, but after being handed the job on a permanent basis, won just one of United's final nine games of the season to finish sixth in the Premier League.

A huge summer rebuild was forecast, even by Solskjaer himself, but only three players have arrived in the form of Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James.

Moreover, United have sold striker Romelu Lukaku without replacing the Belgian to increase the goalscoring burden on Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and an out-of-sorts Alexis Sanchez.

Solskjaer is also not blessed with depth in midfield.

Ander Herrera and Marouane Fellaini have departed in recent months without replacements being recruited, meaning it is inconceivable the wantaway Paul Pogba could be let go before the end of the European transfer deadline despite interest from Real Madrid.

United fans' fury saw calls for executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward to resign start trending on Twitter in the hours after the Premier League transfer window closed on Thursday.

"Within the team and club we are feeling very confident, we don't feel that negativity you're talking about," said Solskjaer at his pre-match press conference on Friday. "That isn't the feeling inside the club, it's not the feeling with fans I've met. They are excited."

The cause for optimism is that Maguire's signing could have the same transformative effect Virgil van Dijk's arrival had on European champions Liverpool 18 months ago.

The England international surpassed Van Dijk as the world's most expensive defender in an £80 million move from Leicester and will be expected to shore up a United defence that conceded 54 goals in the league alone last season.

"Harry has impressed me, very much so. He has come in as a presence," said Solskjaer. "He is taller and bigger than I thought. He has come in as a real plus. He will have an impact on the rest of the boys."

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