Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insisted his only concern was results on the pitch as the performance of Manchester United’s recruitment department comes under scrutiny in the final days of the transfer window.
United continue to be linked with big-money moves for the likes of Jadon Sancho and Ousmane Dembele, but it is a saga that has played out all summer with Donny van de Beek the only major arrival so far.
Even if that changes before Monday’s deadline, fans and former players have grown frustrated with a now familiar story of the club moving too slowly in the market, but Solskjaer refused to be drawn on the matter as he looks to Sunday’s match against Tottenham.
"We’re working hard to get better with the players we’ve got," says Ole.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) October 2, 2020
“I’m not going to go into the transfer window now because of course my focus is on Sunday’s game but the club is always working hard to have the strongest possible squad,” he said. “If something happens in or out you’ll get to know.
“We’ve got players here that we believe in. The transfer window is still open for a little while and the club has been working. They know my view and we’re here to strengthen in the long term.
“The main thing now is to get results on the pitch. We need to get results and how are we going to get results on the pitch? There are many, many ways of improving the team. We’re working now inside the four walls and on the pitch to get better. We need to get better.”
United finished last season strongly once play resumed after the lockdown, but were relying on a small group of players to do it. Solskjaer argued the situation was different now with performances in the Carabao Cup showing others in the squad were pushing for places in the Premier League.
“I keep reading about players who should be playing instead of the ones that are because they are performing well in the games when they get chances,” he said. “That tells me we’ve got a strong squad. I feel there’s more and more competition for places here now.”
The build-up to Spurs’ visit on Sunday has been marked by Solskjaer and Jose Mourinho trading barbs – with Mourinho pointing to the number of penalties United have got this season, and Solskjaer making a dig about Spurs’ bye in the Carabao Cup – but the United boss said it was all harmless fun.
“We are in strange times at the moment and sometimes you’ve got to have a bit of fun,” he said. “It’s just a couple of innocent comments. For me Jose is a very charismatic coach. You in the media enjoy talking to him and I’ve enjoyed watching him. He’s a winner.
“I’m not one of those that really goes into all the mind games. I’ve got ultimate respect for him as a coach and of course the results and everything he has given football.”
On Thursday Mason Greenwood was, as expected, left out of Gareth Southgate’s England squad after both he and Manchester City’s Phil Foden were sent home from Iceland last month for a breach of quarantine protocols – a decision Solskjaer backed.
“Mason is one of the top strikers of the future for England and for sure he is going to play many games for England,” Solskjaer said. “This now obviously has been a learning curve for him.
“Mason has to reflect on where he’s at and what he needs to do, how to get to where he wants to get to.
“I had a very nice chat with Gareth about our players and the England possibles. As I’ve said, games are very important for players to get some minutes but we’ll get loads of training into Mason. I respect Gareth’s decision, definitely.”