Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Defiant Solskjaer insists Man Utd are ‘close’ despite ‘darkest day’ against Liverpool

Steve Pearson
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer 2021

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer rebuffed any notion he could walk away from his managerial position at Old Trafford despite overseeing their “darkest day” against Liverpool.

Manchester United endured arguably their most miserable defeat in the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer era. With spirits high after an epic comeback victory over Atalanta midweek, United were tipped to make a fast start at home.

But it was Liverpool who flew out of the traps, going two goals up inside the first 15 minutes.

United looked unsure whether to press or drop deep. In the end, their mixed approach left gaping holes for Liverpool to exploit.

Mohamed Salah needs no helping hand in the final third on current form. But that’s exactly what United’s defenders provided, aiding Salah at every turn as he plundered a hat-trick to continue his red-hot form.

United steadied the ship somewhat after the break, though that was in part due to the drop in tempo from Liverpool after Paul Pogba saw red.

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Speaking to Sky Sports after the match, Solskjaer said: “It is not easy to say something apart from it is the darkest day I have had leading these players.

“We were not good enough individually and as a team, can’t give a team like Liverpool those chances but unfortunately we did.

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“The whole performance was not good enough. We created openings, they had chances and they have been clinical. The third goal decided the game.”

When a question about responsibility for the result was posed, Solskjaer said: “It is mine, that is it. The coaching staff are very, very good, brilliant. I choose the way we approach the game, we were not clinical enough and gave too much spaces and when you give good players space they score.

“We are at home, playing against Liverpool, we have gone here over the last two and half years and had a similar approach to high press but today they scored on their chances I think as Manchester United we should always try to stamp our authority on the game.

“That fourth goal is when you go into half time with having to score one every 15 minutes. I know these boys are capable of it.”

Naby Keita celebrating with Mohamed Salah against Man Utd 2021

When asked at what point the game became damage limitation, the Norwegian added: “The fourth, that was probably game over.

“You can look at last season we lose to Spurs 6-1 this is worse, miles worse. This is miles worse for me as a Manchester lad. I’ve just got to say we have to get over this as quickly as we can.”

The Sky Sports reporter then spoke about the pressure mounting on Solskjaer’s position in what is a results business. The United boss showed no sign he would walk away, saying: “I have come too far, we have come too far as a group. We are too close to give up now.

“It is going to be a difficult one. The players will be low but there’s loads of characters there.

“We know we are rock bottom, we can’t feel any worse than this. Let’s see where we take it.”

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Maguire apologises – “nowhere near good enough”

United captain Harry Maguire also spoke to the press, telling Sky Sports: “We apologise to the fans, it was nowhere near good enough for this club. They stuck with us right to the end and we appreciate that but as a club we have to do better.

“I am so disappointed, we gave them so many chances. They were so clinical, we had a lot of chances ourselves but I am a defender and to concede four in the first half especially at Old Trafford is nowhere near good enough.

“As a player I know myself. I’ll be looking at myself and my individual performance.

“We have to stick together, there is no point blaming each other but look at ourselves. Look in the mirror when we go home tonight and think where we can do better.

“To lose to Liverpool in any game of football hurts. The rivals, the way we lost the game, to be 4-0 down at half time in front of our fans, like I say it is not good enough.”

When asked if it was too far to describe the result as embarrassing, Maguire added: “Not really. The term I’d use is not good enough.

“I look at those lads each day in training and we are working hard as we can but at the moment it is not good enough. I apologise to the fans, we have to look at ourselves as individuals but also stick together.”

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