Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

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Solskjaer details focus on mental health of players during shutdown

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer spoke about the need for his players to concentrate not just on their physical fitness during the coronavirus shutdown that has leagues across the world on hiatus, but also for the need to make sure players maintain their mental spirit as well.

“We shouldn’t forget these are players used to playing in front of thousands of people and training every day with their team-mates,” Solskjaer said to the Daily Mail via a videoconference from his home. “They’re missing that competition, so they’ve got to look after themselves, the mental health side, as well as the physical fitness. That’s one of the big things – just look after yourself and do what you can. I know loads of players are contributing financially and mentally, even just by ringing round and talking to different people and helping out.”

Plenty of studies have been done about how the lack of competition can affect recently retired players, and that same concern has clearly been conveyed by Solskjaer as he looks after his Manchester United players while the government orders everyone to stay in their homes.

In fact, he’s even told them to take a complete break from football to maintain their competitive spirit once the Premier League returns to action.

“Don’t even think about it,” Solskjaer said regarding his advice for Manchester United players on how much football to concentrate on, “because you can’t just focus on ‘I have to be ready in two-and-a-half or three weeks’ all the time. You need an off-period and I want them to have April more or less relaxed because, if we’re back in May, I want them really ready to work again.”

While that’s what he prefers his players’ mindset to be, he himself is keeping a close watch on the situation. “That’s the biggest challenge, probably, the unknown,” Solskjaer told Sky Sports. “Not knowing when we’re going to start. You want to hit it when you get going, but is it in six weeks’ time or is the league going to be starting at the end of May, mid-June, is it not going to start?”

But, while there are plenty of challenges for a coaching staff to manage, Solskjaer also takes positives. “The biggest difference for most of us is that when you’re a footballer you don’t really get to spend much time with your family. That’s been a big plus, if you’re allowed to say that anything has been a big plus in this situation.”

Solskjaer hits out at criticism of players, leagues

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Man United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes the Premier League and soccer in general have become an easy target amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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The Man United manager joined our partners at Sky Sports in the UK to discuss life during the nationwide lockdown in the UK and was asked about criticism of clubs and players as talks continue about wage cuts.

“For me football is an easy target sometimes,” Solskjaer said. “For me it’s unfair to call on any individual or footballers as a group because I already know players do a great amount of work in the community, and players are doing a lot to help this situation. Discussions are taking place between players and clubs, what kind of contribution they’ll make. It’s not easy for anyone, and to be called out is not fair for me.”

The English game, including Premier League clubs, have been criticized for applying for the UK government’s furlough scheme which will pay staff 80 percent of their current wages.

Liverpool issued an apology and reversed their decision to furlough 200 staff members and Tottenham and Newcastle have been criticized for using the scheme, while players have revealed various views on whether or not the 2019-20 season should be finished or deemed null and void.

Man United have said they will not use the furlough scheme to pay their staff and Solskjaer defended any mistakes that have been made by certain clubs or owners over the past few weeks.

“Mistakes are being made and have been made by loads of people and that’s how we learn as well. Now it’s about making better decisions, good decisions, I think we all want to help the NHS, the communities, and I think it’s important every single club do what they think is right. We’re all good people, and I’m sure we all want this to be over with as soon as possible. For me it’s about following the guidelines from the government as well,” Solskjaer added.

‘You can’t ask for more’: Solskjaer delighted as red-hot Man United beat City

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Manchester United are, once again, derby winners, holding off an aggressive Manchester City to a 2-0 win.

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It is 10 games unbeaten now for United, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer couldn’t be more content for a group of players – and fan base – that were on the other side of the spectrum not too long ago.

“The desire, attitude, commitment,” he said. “The connection between fans and players and the team. What a day they’ve had today, both the players and the fans. Of course they made us defend, that’s the type of players they are, but if our fans can see players with attitude and commitment and desire, then we’ve done our job as coaches today.”

Such positive result means United have achieved a league double of rivals City, and that they consolidate their hopes of making a top-four finish. Bruno Fernandes continues to demonstrate he was well worth the transfer dilemma, contributing two goals and three assists since joining from Sporting in January. The Portuguese international and Anthony Martial have been vital throughout the Red Devils’ fine run of form.

“Anthony and Bruno have hit if off,” the Norwegian manager said about his players. “It is a privilege to be a manager of a squad with this attitude. You can’t ask for more. They are going to improve as players as well.”

It’s worth asking how Solskjaer will navigate the coming weeks on the back of such palpable, positive momentum. United may be flying high, but they close out March with both legs of their Round of 16 Europa League matchup, a league bout against Tottenham, and Norwich City in the FA Cup quarterfinals.

That, in addition to United’s overdefensive posture against City, will may be two topics Solskjaer and company may look over in the coming days. It’s been affective, but is it sustainable in the long run?

For now, it’s time to celebrate that Manchester is, once again, red.

“Well of course it’s a derby, the fans love it, the players love it,” Solskjaer said. “For our players to beat the team that’s Man City, with the problems that we’ve had as well, it’s fantastic. I’m just delighted for them. We played against an absolute top, top team. Of course we had to defend and they had possession, but we’re delighted with the outcome.”

Solskjaer on Ighalo, Rooney, Man Utd win: ‘Everyone loves Wayne’

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Manchester United will look to stretch its unbeaten run to 10 matches when it hosts Manchester City in what should be a scintillating derby on Sunday.

The Red Devils hit nine matches on Thursday when they eliminated old pal Wayne Rooney and Derby County from the FA Cup with a 3-0 win at Pride Park.

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United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was thrilled with the performances of striker Odion Ighalo and rare goal scorer  Luke Shaw in the win.

For Ighalo, it’s three goals in two starts for United after a trio of goal-free substitute appearances. Here’s Solskjaer, via the BBC:

“When you get strikers in you want them to be happy and confident. He has come in here and of course we still have a few injuries and it is great for us to have Odion to call upon. He is a different striker for us and scores some good goals, there is not many who could dig that one out for his first. We have a team of good players.”

The striker says he’s feeling good around Old Trafford, and isn’t bothered by any odd thoughts regarding his return to the Premier League from the Chinese Super League.

“As long as my team-mates believe in me, the boss believes in me and the fans believe in me, just have to keep going. I don’t care what anyone says.”

Rooney nearly got on the score sheet with a technical marvel of a free kick in stoppage time, but Sergio Romero made an even better play to slap the ball over the bar.

Solskjaer and Rooney were teammates at Old Trafford for a few seasons, and there’s mutual appreciation.

“Everyone loves Wayne, all the supporters at Manchester United appreciate what he did,” Solskjaer said. “He played well. He shows class and sometimes he has too much time on the ball for my liking.”

Rooney was quite good on the day. The Derby County captain completed 11 of 15 long balls while connecting on 88 percent of his passes. He had five key passes, an interception, a blocked shot, two tackles, and a clearance (via Sofascore).

Solskjaer hails ‘fantastic old dog’ Rooney ahead of FA Cup clash

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has heaped unending praise upon Wayne Rooney ahead of Manchester United’s FA Cup fifth-round clash with Derby County — Rooney’s current club — at Pride Park on Thursday.

[ MORE: Kane eyeing late-season return, will “definitely be at EURO 2020” ]

Solskjaer believes without a shadow of a doubt that Rooney a top-class player and one the Red Devils must contain in order to reach the quarterfinals. Given everything that Rooney has meant to Man United since making his debut back in 2004, Solskjaer is certainly relishing the opportunity to face one of his former teammates and a club icon — quotes from Goal.com:

“He gave absolutely everything for this club and we all appreciate what he’s done, but any goal he scores against us will be chalked off his goal tally, so he doesn’t want to score too many.

“Wayne will show what he can do, he wants to prove there is still fight in an old dog. We’ve got to be on our toes, don’t give him any space in and around the box, or in midfield, because you can see his [Paul] Scholes-like passing range.”

“He’s been a fantastic player for Man United. And he played here for so long. He’s the club’s top scorer, he won so many trophies.

“For me, I don’t think the fans underrate him, I think everyone really, really appreciates what he did for us, he’s still very welcome, he’s still around the place, he still comes to Old Trafford, so he will get a good reception from our away fans in that game.”

“I think he just wants to stay in the game, as many of us do, and he’s a great person, he makes everyone feel good – whether you are 80 or 10.

“He’s even my [son] Noah’s favorite player, not just because what he did as a player, but the kind of human being he was in and around the place.

“I’m sure when he becomes a manager he’ll affect his players. When he’s coaching, he’s so enthusiastic about the game and he knows the game.”