Ole Gunnar Solskjaer does not want a**holes in his Man United squad.
That’s right, the baby-faced assassin is not here to make friends. Even though he seems like a very, very nice bloke.
The Norwegian coach has spoken about rebuilding the Red Devils squad after he took charge on an interim basis in December 2018 and wasn’t exactly complimentary about the characters in the squad.
Speaking to Man United Fanzine ‘United We Stand’ Solskjaer detailed that he needs players to act as a collective rather than individuals.
“I’d rather have a hole in the squad than an arsehole. 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,” Solskjaer said. “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.”
“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. 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. . I could see more and more at the end of the season what needed improving.”
Discussing his incredible start as interim boss which led to him getting the job permanently, Solskjaer added that when Man United struggled at the end of the 2018-19 season and fell out of top four contention he realized the true character of certain players: “You need some egos in football, but it has to be team first.”
This is really interesting stuff from Solskjaer and he certainly had Man United on an upward trajectory in the 2019-20 season as they were pushing Chelsea hard for fourth place, had reached the FA Cup quarterfinals finals and had more than foot in the UEFA Europa League last eight too.
With Bruno Fernandes, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire arriving for big money, plus youngsters like Brandon Williams, Mason Greenwood and Scott McTominay becoming more important to the team, it seems like the squad balance is now right at Man United. Maguire, AWB and Fernandes all seem fully-focused on playing and aside from their incredible ability on the pitch it seems like their attitude off it was key in them signing for Man United.
What do these comments say about Alexis Sanchez, Romelu Lukaku, Chris Smalling, Matteo Darmian, Marcos Rojo and Ander Herrera who have all been sold or loaned out over the last 12 months? Hmmm.
Solskjaer’s team-first approach is the only way Man United will get back to being top four mainstays because buying superstar players with big egos hasn’t worked out for them over the last seven years since Sir Alex Ferguson retired.