‘The tree is growing’: Solskjaer calls for patience at Man U

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer urged the club’s leadership to “look at the bigger picture” and avoid being too reactionary following two disappointing losses that have placed him under renewed scrutiny.

Solskjaer and United’s players are under mounting criticism in the wake of losing to Istanbul Basaksehir 2-1 in the Champions League on Wednesday, when incidents of shambolic defending were described by Solskjaer as “unforgivable.”

Before that, United lost to Arsenal 1-0 at Old Trafford to slump to 15th in the English Premier League. The team is without a win in its first four home games in the top-flight for the first time since 1972.

Solskjaer acknowledged he was “under pressure” heading into a league match at Everton on Saturday but said he maintains a good relationship with the club’s leadership — the U.S.-based Glazer family — and is still planning for the long term.

“We planted a seed and the tree is growing,” Solskjaer said. “Some clubs just rip up that tree and see if it is still growing, see if it is still getting water underneath.

“For me, I have had backing all the way, since I’ve come in, on the bigger picture, and the club needs to look at the bigger picture. We can’t go reacting to one or two results, we have to look further back at the direction we’re going.”

Inconsistency is crippling United this season, with the latest defeats coming soon after the team beat Paris Saint-Germain and Leipzig — two of last season’s Champions League semifinalists — 2-1 and 5-0, respectively, in the space of a week.

“I don’t look at one or two results and fall like a house of cards,” Solskjaer said.

“There’s been too much made of, say, not scoring against Arsenal and Chelsea because there’s been more or less nothing in those two games. It’s not too long ago we were the best thing since sliced bread when you beat Leipzig and PSG, so there’s ups and downs in football and that’s just the way it has to be.”

Goodison Park was the scene of what Solskjaer described as his lowest point as United manager — a 4-0 loss in the league in April last year. A 2-0 loss at Everton in 2014 also proved to be David Moyes’ last match in charge of United after less than a year in charge.

“You have to be mentally strong,” Solskjaer said ahead of United’s latest trip to Goodison, which comes before a two-week break for international matches. “Of course there’s demands on a Man United player and a coach and a manager. There’s also an expectation because we are at the best and the biggest club in the world.

“You don’t expect to have anything but criticism then, it’s just how you deal with that, how you deal with that setback. From what I’ve seen from the boys, they’ve been very focused since we’ve come back, ready to give a response.”

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Steve Douglas is at https://twitter.com/sdouglas80

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