Ole Gunnar Solskjaer maintains he can turn Manchester United’s fortunes around – but only if he is given sufficient time at the helm.
The Red Devils head to Newcastle United on Sunday after a disappointing nine points from their first seven Premier League games of the season.
United were held to a dour 0-0 draw by AZ in the Europa League on Thursday to compound a poor run of games in which they have lost to West Ham, drawn with Arsenal and required penalties to get past Rochdale in the EFL Cup.
They head to St James’ Park on a seven-game winless run away from home in the top flight, their worst such sequence since 1989.
United’s struggles are in stark contrast to the optimism around Solskjaer’s impressive run as interim boss, which has mostly evaporated since his appointment as full-time manager in March.
However, the Norwegian insists the tide will turn if he is allowed time to implement his plan at Old Trafford.
15 – Man Utd have scored 15 goals in their last 18 competitive matches; their worst run over an 18-game period since April-October 2007 (also 15 goals). In that 2007 run, they netted 44 goals in their following 18 games, including 4 in each of the first 4 games in this run. Dips. pic.twitter.com/z89TmJ38Ej
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 4, 2019
“My career has had loads of ups, but some downs as well, both as a player and as a coach. In Molde and in Cardiff [City], I’ve had tough times,” he said.
“I don’t worry if it’s United, Molde or Cardiff, I do the same job I believe in and in the end it’s turned out to be good if you get time.
“This is a period where there’s some fine lines going against us. Sometimes you don’t get what you deserve but within you still feel okay.
“There’s once this season where we didn’t really deserve to get too much out of the game. Apart from that, there’s been margins: Arsenal, we should have had a penalty for handball; on [Thursday] we should have had a penalty. There are things working against you, but it will turn.”
Injuries have caused a huge headache for Solskjaer and left him short on options given their relatively thin squad.
Paul Pogba will not feature against Newcastle as he continues to nurse an ankle problem, while Anthony Martial, Luke Shaw and Jesse Lingard are expected to miss out with muscle injuries.
Diogo Dalot, Phil Jones and Angel Gomes have also been struck down by muscular issues despite Solskjaer having put a specific focus on improving player fitness in pre-season.
United are reportedly ready to appoint Celtic physio Tim Williamson as part of a restructure of their sport science section, and Solskjaer admits it is an area they need to improve.
“If you’re going to survive in modern football you have to be fit and they had to be fitter than they were when I came in,” he said. “We’re working on it and they’ll get there.
“There’s lots of different reasons players get injuries. It’s something we look at. We’re working to improve every department at the club.”