Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on Paul Pogba’s future & strength of Man Utd squad

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes he now has the squad to compete on all fronts ahead of his side’s return to Champions League action on Tuesday.

The Red Devils beat Newcastle 4-1 on Saturday in the Premier League, putting them top of the table after four games on goals scored, with new signings Cristiano Ronaldo, Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho all starting the game at Old Trafford.

Speaking to the media ahead of his side’s opening group clash with Young Boys in Switzerland, Solskjaer admitted it had been too long since United had been successful in a Champions League campaign. However, he does now believe the squad should be able to better manage the demands of domestic and European football.

“We have had some very good, memorable nights at the club and they are the biggest nights. The aim is to go all the way, but we know it’s going to be difficult. It always is. But we’ve added some quality, experience and youth into the squad and hopefully we are better prepared for what’s to come,” he said.

“Sometimes you can go far with the youth as well, but in some games experience will of course play it’s part. But in others, you need the youthful exuberance and courage.

“This team has grown and matured over the last few seasons – that was always the plan. When I came in, we wanted a team with experience and quality who could challenge. David [De Gea], Harry [Maguire] has been here for a few years now, Raphael and Cristiano. We’ve learned. The group is special – they look after each other and it’s going to stand us in good stead.

“I can’t look at the squad and say we’ve played a game in midweek and we’re tired. Players are fitter now, we’ve been very robust over the years and improved a lot the way we dealt with the pandemic situation and the games coming thick and fast. The ones we’ve signed as well, it’s easier to rotate. I’ve told the team I trust the members of the squad.

“There’s nothing better than getting into a rhythm of recovery, playing, recovery, playing. That’s when we get our best play.”

Paul Pogba is another who is entering the peak years of his career, and has started the new season well – providing seven assists in just four Premier League games. While reports on Monday had suggested the player was leaning towards signing a contract extension at Old Trafford – he has less than a year left on his deal – Solskjaer admitted United must start winning trophies to give their best players a reason to stay.

“It’s up to us now to get results and to prove to ourselves that we can win trophies,” he added. “Everyone who signs for United wants to win trophies and be part of a winning United team, it’s the most magical feeling. I think everyone is focused on doing their best and let’s see where it goes.

“Paul has come back in good shape. He’s worked really hard over the summer. He’s come back lean and fit. Paul has always been a great passer and he’s not got assists from his best passes this season. I don’t pay attention to assists, it’s a social media thing. But Paul has played well for sure.”

United have already travelled to Switzerland for the game, and will play on an artificial pitch. One player who isn’t with them is Edinson Cavani, who Solskjaer confirmed was still struggling with a minor injury.

“Edi is hopefully back with us soon – he had a slight strain during the international break in a behind closed doors game. He’s working hard to come back.”