EPL

Solskjaer convinced he'll get best out of Man Utd squad

By Sports Desk October 03, 2021

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is adamant he will be able to get the best out of his Manchester United squad this season despite an erratic start to 2021-22.

Solskjaer's time in charge at United has generally been seen in a positive light among supporters, with first-team recruitment improving and many players considered deadwood under previous managers finally offloaded.

Additionally, the Norwegian secured back-to-back Champions League qualifications in his two full seasons at the helm — Jose Mourinho and Louis van Gaal only managed one each, while David Moyes was sacked before the conclusion to 2013-14, with United ultimately finishing seventh.

But arguably for the first time since becoming United manager, Solskjaer is now under pressure to challenge for the biggest titles following the recent arrival of big-name recruits Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Performances so far in 2021-22 have fallen short of expectations, however, with United winning just five of their 10 matches across all competitions — only two were by more than a single goal, and those were against a Leeds United side that is notoriously open and Newcastle United, who have not won any of their first seven league games.

United's latest disappointing result was the 1-1 draw with Everton on Saturday, which made it nine home league matches without a clean sheet, one shy of equalling a club record.

Everton were the more threatening team in that match, their 1.22 expected goals (xG) an improvement on United's 0.88 xG while the Toffees also had a goal disallowed, but Solskjaer retains belief in his team and staff.

Asked if he should be getting better results from the squad at his disposal, a prickly Solskjaer said: "That's the same question you asked on Wednesday night… Of course, I'm very confident we'll get the best out of this squad.

"A lot has happened this month. We've had Raphael, Cristiano and Jadon with us since August — well, Cristiano only September.

"We've loads to work on, we need to improve. We know that, I know that, but I do believe in this group of players and the coaching staff I've got. Yes, is the short answer."

A gruelling sequence of matches awaits after the international break, with United set to face Leicester City, Atalanta twice, Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester City in a six-game spell.

While Solskjaer's record against Liverpool is not great, with him yet to beat the Reds in the league, he has at least had some joy in meetings with City, against whom he has won more games (four) than lost (three) across all competitions.

But some consider this upcoming sequence to be a make-or-break run for Solskjaer, and he stresses that past results against those opponents need to be disregarded.

"I believe in these players, in the coaching staff. I believe we have something going," he continued. "But the proof is in the pudding, so we need results and you have to turn up.

"We can't say we did well against City and Tottenham last year, we need to do it during the 90 minutes, that's the challenge.

"Every game in the Premier League and Champions League is a big game against a good team, and every game at Man Utd is a potential banana skin because we're expected to win every one."

Related items

  • Rose 'angry' after Dortmund blow chance at title with shock DFB-Pokal exit Rose 'angry' after Dortmund blow chance at title with shock DFB-Pokal exit

    Borussia Dortmund head coach Marco Rose admits he is "angry" after his side spurned a golden opportunity to win a title after crashing out of the DFB-Pokal 2-1 to St Pauli on Tuesday.

    DFB-Pokal holders Dortmund conceded twice in the first half before Erling Haaland pulled back a 58th minute penalty but they could not find an equalizer in the last-16 clash.

    The defeat means for the first time since 2006-07, neither Dortmund or Bayern Munich will contend in the DFB-Pokal quarter-finals, with Rose admitting it was a major missed opportunity.

    "I'm just angry. The cup is a chance for a title and we're generally in good shape," Rose told Sky. "Then we just give the game away in the first 10 minutes.

    "The fact that you then get into problems with the ground and the strong opponent under the conditions is inexplicable and cannot be excused."

    Dortmund had come into the DFB-Pokal game fresh from beating SC Freiburg 5-1 in the Bundesliga on Friday, as well as coming from behind to win 3-2 over Eintracht Frankfurt.

    "It's a pity and a bit stupid of us that after a top performance against Freiburg and the game we played in Frankfurt, we didn't do it again," Rose said.

    "Unfortunately, we are again confirming a few things that have been held up to us in the last few weeks, months and years. It's just our fault.

    "The end pisses me off because it was a chance for a title and we're just giving the game away."

  • Australian Open: Medvedev, Kyrgios get chance to bring Melbourne to life Australian Open: Medvedev, Kyrgios get chance to bring Melbourne to life

    Nick Kyrgios is box office whenever he plays – and the Australian Open gets a first-week gift in the form of a second-round blockbuster against Daniil Medvedev.

    Kyrgios still managed to bring John Cain Arena to life even during a relatively straightforward 6-4 6-4 6-3 win over Liam Broady on Tuesday.

    The Australian, who has dropped to 115th in the rankings after not playing since last year's US Open, is arguably the must-watch player in the men's draw.

    Anything can happen when Kyrgios is in action. For all the frustrations about a thus far unfulfilled talent, Kyrgios – a two-time grand slam quarter-finalist – is box office.

    On Thursday he faces the highest ranked player in the men's draw, last year's US Open champion Medvedev, in what shapes as being a thrilling contest.

    Kyrgios has won both of his previous meetings with the Russian second seed, who is among the favourites to win the title at Melbourne Park.

    With Roger Federer absent and Novak Djokovic having been deported from Australia, tournament officials have been gifted a contest that belongs in the second week.

    All eyes will be on Thursday's schedule, with Kyrgios seemingly likely to miss out on playing on his preferred court – John Cain Arena – in a match that undoubtedly belongs on Rod Laver Arena.

    "I mean, obviously either way it's going to be a hell of an experience for me. He's probably the best player in the world at the moment. So I'm pretty excited, I'm excited for that moment. That's why I play the game," Kyrgios said after beating Broady.

    "I feel like those matches still excite me, to go out there and play the best in the world. That was always something I wanted to prove to people that someone like me could do, win those matches. I'm not going to go into it with a lot of expectation. I'm going to go out there, have some fun, play my game. I have a pretty set-in-stone game plan of what I need to do to have success.

    "As I said, he's probably the best player in the world, he does everything extremely well. He's a hard worker, ticks all the boxes. I'm not going to even think about that now. To play it on John Cain would be – I'm just going to call it the Kyrgios Court – would be fun."

    Kyrgios and Medvedev played twice in 2019, the Australian winning two tie-breaks in their most recent meeting in the final in Washington in August of that year.

     

    Medvedev was a top-10 player then, but it would be later in that year that the Russian would truly make an impact, edged by Rafael Nadal in the US Open final.

    He went 20-3 at majors last year, winning the title at Flushing Meadows, reaching the final in Melbourne and the French Open quarter-finals.

    When he met Kyrgios in Washington, Medvedev had won four ATP titles. He now has 13 to his name.

    "Yeah, I just became a different player in terms of ranking and titles. It gives you experience. That's where you can try to win matches which you have lost before, opponents which you have lost before," Medvedev said following his opening-round win against Henri Laaksonen.

    "I think there are still some guys on tour who I haven't beat. So can stay like this. I think our last match was so long ago and we are both so different and a different momentum of our careers that it's really tough to count it. As I say, win or lose, I don't think these two matches gonna count into this one, so yeah."

  • Australian Open: Brilliant Barty brushes past Bronzetti Australian Open: Brilliant Barty brushes past Bronzetti

    Ash Barty continued her impressive start to the Australian Open with a resounding win over Lucia Bronzetti on Wednesday.

    The world number one dropped just one game in the first round and was similarly rampant in the second, crushing Bronzetti 6-1 6-1 on Rod Laver Arena.

    Barty, a two-time grand slam champion, raced through in just 52 minutes to set up a meeting with another Italian, 30th seed Camila Giorgi.

    The Australian remains on track for a blockbuster fourth-round meeting with Japanese star Naomi Osaka.

    Barty quickly broke the Bronzetti serve, taking a 2-0 lead after a double fault and tame backhand into the net from the Italian.

    Bronzetti won just one point during her opening two service games as Barty broke again for 4-0, on her way to taking the first set in just 26 minutes.

    The one-sided encounter continued to begin the second set, a pair of double faults from Bronzetti helping Barty break to love in the third game.

    Barty remained untroubled, cruising through in style as her run in Melbourne continued.

    DATA SLAM: Brilliant Barty continues early blitz

    Barty has dropped just three games through two rounds at the Australian Open.

    That is the fewest number of games she has lost through the opening two rounds of a grand slam in her career, better than last year's Australian Open (seven).

    WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
    Barty – 21/14
    Bronzetti – 6/14

    ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
    Barty – 8/2
    Bronzetti – 1/5

    BREAK POINTS WON
    Barty – 5/6
    Bronzetti – 0/0

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.