Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insists Manchester United must stay true to their principles despite admitting that this season was never going to be straightforward.
United (opens in new tab) squeezed past Rochdale in the third round of the EFL Cup on Tuesday, eventually defeating the League One outfit on penalties after a 1-1 draw.
The 20-time English champions are already 10 points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool (opens in new tab), meaning they are highly unlikely to win their first title of the post-Alex Ferguson era this term.
United have been criticised for their performances in the opening weeks of the campaign, but Solskjaer insists scrutiny and pressure come with the territory at Old Trafford.
“I don’t worry what the press write about other teams or me and Man United,” he said. “We are focused on what we have to do: to keep improving. Reading the papers doesn’t change my view. Sometimes my kids are asking: ‘What’s this [criticism] all about?’
“When I was a player it was always Man United hogging the headlines. We wouldn’t want to scramble through the newspapers to see if things have been written about us. That’s our rightful place. When we lose a game or go through difficult periods we must keep our eyes on the prize and keep working in the direction we believe.
“I never said it was going be easy this season. There are going to be ups and downs, highs and lows. And when we lose a game we have to trust ourselves and what we’re doing, [keep our] eyes on the prize and keep the principles we believe in.
“Any game in the Premier League is winnable but also losable. It’s margins, fine margins and sometimes you stand there smiling happy to have won a game, sometimes angry because you’ve lost. You’ve got to portray the right image.”
United will be looking for their third win of the Premier League season when Arsenal (opens in new tab) travel to Old Trafford on Monday.
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Greg Lea is a freelance football journalist who's filled in wherever FourFourTwo needs him since 2014. He became a Crystal Palace fan after watching a 1-0 loss to Port Vale in 1998, and once got on the scoresheet in a primary school game against Wilfried Zaha's Whitehorse Manor (an own goal in an 8-0 defeat).
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