Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has spoken bullishly about his position ahead of Saturday’s trip to Tottenham.
Solskjaer has been under intense scrutiny following last Sunday’s 5-0 home loss to Liverpool, which left United seventh in the Premier League table having taken one point from their last four matches.
At his press conference on Friday ahead of the Spurs match, Solskjaer was asked if he had spoken to Sir Alex Ferguson since the Liverpool loss and whether he believed he could emerge from the current predicament and be successful as the club’s manager.
And he said: “Yes, on both accounts. We had a commercial day, and Sir Alex came to do some commercial stuff. I met him and spoke to him, just for a brief moment.
“I’ve been through some very bad moments here as a player and when I’ve been a coach and a manager as well.
“I’ve had to deal with setbacks, there’s probably been two or three crises at least since I became the manager here. One thing I can say is that I’ll always give it a good shot and fight back.”
Solskjaer also described a report that Paul Pogba, who was sent off in the Liverpool match after coming off the bench at half-time, did not speak to him afterwards and had put contract talks on hold as “blatant lies”.
Pogba earlier this week tweeted an image of the report’s headline with the words “fake news” over the top of it, and the message “big lies to make big headlines”.
Solskjaer said: “I don’t tend to read social media, but when Paul came up to me, angry…
“We expect to be criticised, because hands up, the performance wasn’t good enough, you expect to hear it from right, left and centre. But we can’t accept when lies are being made up, and Paul came to me and told me what he had put out on his social media account.
“We’re better than that as a group. The culture is better, the environment is better. When it’s blatant lies, they have to stand up and say so. All the opinions and reports, fine, but don’t make lies about players or me.”
Solskjaer said it had been a “difficult week” but also that “we’ve had a good week on the training field” and said he was confident his players were in the right frame of mind heading into the Tottenham clash.
He said: “We need a reaction and it’s my job to put the players in the right frame of mind.
“I’m responsible for the reaction, for the result, for the performance, and we’ve worked on the pitch. We’ve worked on everything that needs to be sorted for a footballer – and that’s not just one bit, it’s not just frame of mind, it’s game plan, tactics, technically. We’ve had a good week and I feel the boys are ready to give their best.”
Solskjaer added: “Sometimes when you come in for criticism like you are doing, you get into the trenches with your team-mates, and that reaction I’ve seen this week.
“This club, with whatever we’ve been through before, it’s always about getting through with courage, togetherness, team-work, self-belief and sticking together and this group has done.”
Regarding the display against Liverpool, he said: “Of course you have to hold your hands up – that performance is not acceptable. And you have to look at why it wasn’t acceptable, and why it went as it did.
“I use the analogy that it felt like we were a boxer being punched, getting knocked down in the first round. We had a chance, we conceded a goal, and we wanted to sort it out and we went a bit too open and too frantic against a good team.
“You see Tyson Fury when he gets knocked down a few times, it’s remarkable. Maybe we got up too early and tried to sort it. Minds have to be better but of course we’ve had to look at different things, and of course you have to be up front and honest, the communication has to be direct.”
While Pogba begins a suspension, Raphael Varane and Anthony Martial could make their return to action in the Tottenham match after injury, with Solskjaer saying he has a fully fit squad.