Former Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has revealed that his Old Trafford tenure was undermined by the club’s failure to snap up five major targets.
Solskjaer was sacked by United almost two years ago having failed to fulfill the early promise he showed and he has now revealed the top targets he wanted on board to help build on that start.
The club’s board did deliver the likes of club legend Cristiano Ronaldo, although the Norwegian admits that was now a mistake.
Manchester United did finally landed Ronaldo’s replacement in the shape of Denmark international Rasmus Hojlund, who scored his first goal for the club in the Champions League loss to Bayern Munich on Wednesday evening.
However, efforts to snap up Brighton sensation Evan Ferguson before that backfired embarrassingly after the Seagulls laughed off their £ 50million offer.
And, when asked if the Old Trafford job was an impossible task, given the financial restrictions in place under the Glazers, added to the spending power of the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and Newcastle, Solskjaer explained to The Athletic: “No, but it’s difficult, especially for managers following one of the best managers ever. The expectations are very high but we can’t live in the same era as when I played.
“We had Arsenal and Chelsea as rivals towards the end. Now, most teams have money or even if they don’t, they don’t need to sell.
“Back then, Wayne and Cristiano were the best young players and we signed them. Now, United can’t just go and buy Evan Ferguson. We couldn’t buy the players I mentioned to the club.”
Famous five that Man Utd missed out on
Solskjaer was then pressed on which players the club failed to land, coming up with five incredible answers.
He added: “Erling Haaland, before he made his Salzburg debut. Declan Rice, who wouldn’t have cost what he did in the summer.
“We discussed Moises Caicedo, but we felt we needed players ready for there and then.
“Brighton are very good at letting players come from abroad and find their feet for a year and a half. At United, you don’t have that luxury and that has cost the club loads of players.
“We wanted Jude Bellingham badly – he’s a Man United player, but I respect he chose Dortmund. That was probably sensible. But it’s why I respect Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Dan James and Jadon [Sancho]. Young players prepared to come into a team that wasn’t 100 per cent there like it was when I arrived.
“I would have signed Kane every day of the week and my understanding was that he wanted to come.
“But the club didn’t have the budget with the financial constraints from Covid-19, there was no bottomless pit.”
Judging by Solskjaer’s comments it’s very much a case of what might have been – if he had got even one or two of his top targets.
All five players have since moved on, showing that it was possible to get them on board for the right price, but the pull of United is clearly not what it once was under Sir Alex Ferguson.
United are back in action on Saturday when they head to Burnley in the Premier League, looking to end a run of three successive defeats.