Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has never felt the managerial job at Manchester United is too big for him, despite a dreadful start to his first full season in charge.
After replacing Jose Mourinho in December and initially overseeing a significant upturn in fortunes for United, Solskjaer has seen his side struggle mightily through the first eight games of the new league campaign.
United head in to Sunday’s clash with Liverpool at Old Trafford 15 points behind the Premier League leaders with just nine to their name.
Twelfth in the table, United have endured their worst start to a Premier League season, increasing the scrutiny on Solskjaer whose only previous managerial experience came with the Red Devils’ reserves, Molde and Cardiff City, with whom he suffered relegation from the top flight.
However, speaking at a news conference ahead of this weekend’s encounter, Solskjaer said: “No, I’ve never felt it’s too big for me. I’m confident in what we’re trying to do and confident in my staff.
“The coaching and what’s happening here every single day, I’ve been so impressed. The improvement is there to see for us. Of course, it’s about results – start winning games, start scoring goals, that’s the main thing. We need to create more chances.
“At the back, I think we’ve looked solid, but we haven’t been adventurous enough, taking enough risks. If you watch the best teams around, they risk the ball more often than we do, they make runs in behind, and that’s part of the process for the boys.
“When they’re losing confidence, they maybe want to play it a bit more safe, but it’s my duty to say, ‘Come on, then – it’s not safety that does it here. At this club, you take risks’.”
9 – Manchester United have picked up just nine points from their opening eight Premier League matches this season (W2 D3 L3), their worst start to a league season since 1989-90 (8 points) when they went on to finish 13th. Worrying. pic.twitter.com/oV2kDjRkri
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 6, 2019
Asked what is different from when he took over in the wake of United’s 3-1 loss to Liverpool that ended Mourinho’s tenure, Solskjaer replied: “The culture I’m seeing every day, the attitude in training, the desire of the players that are here, they want to give absolutely everything for us.
“At times [last season], I didn’t feel they had the robustness, the mentality at times. We’ve been working really hard on the physical robustness, the conditioning. We’ve had injuries, but that’s maybe part of the process.
“I remember when Jurgen [Klopp] came in [at Liverpool], if we compare, he also seemed to get a few injuries early on because of maybe the work load and intensity he wanted his team to play in… you don’t see that any more. He can play with the same 11 every week. We’ll get there.”
Goalkeeper David de Gea is unlikely to face Liverpool after sustaining a groin injury on international duty for Spain, but Solskjaer provided a positive update on his condition.
“I don’t expect him to play but it wasn’t as bad as feared,” he added. “When I saw the game, I thought, ‘That’s him out until the next international break’, as we’ve had some long-term muscle injuries, but it’s not as bad as first feared.
“Hopefully we’ll see on Sunday who’s come through the last two sessions. There are players here who have just started training and are on the verge of coming back. I can’t really say.”