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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer promises ‘realistic and responsible’ business in the summer

Manchester United v Sheffield United – Premier League – Old Trafford
(Image credit: Tim Keeton)

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Manchester United have to focus on realistic and responsible business as they continue to rebuild amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Next Monday marks a year to the day since Old Trafford last welcomed fans, with a full house roaring the hosts to a 2-0 derby victory against rivals Manchester City.

United have not beaten a traditional ‘big six’ rival in the Premier League since and Solskjaer’s second-placed side already look out of the title race with 12 matches remaining.

The Norwegian knows there remains work to do if they are to bring success back to the club but the coronavirus-shaped backdrop has impacted things.

“It’s definitely affecting everyone in football, the pandemic,” he said. “Of course the lack of income, the finances that have affected everyone and it might affect us all well.

“We have to be realistic, we have to be responsible in the way we do our business both on and off the pitch.

“There’s improvements on the training ground, stadium. We just have to look at the whole picture.

“Where can we spend the money? And how much is there? It’s just the real world now. It has changed.”

Asked if it becomes extra difficult to rebuild when you do not have what you normally have available, Solskjaer said: “You can look at it different ways (with a) rebuild.

Edinson Cavani

Edinson Cavani’s long-term status at Old Trafford remains unclear (Michael Regan/PA)

“We also have players in the academy that we now can maybe give opportunities to.

“Of course, all clubs in the world are going through the same situation so it’s no different for other clubs than for us.

“I think there’s just going to be less and less transfers happening in the world of football until this changes.”

United left their transfer business until late last summer, with free agent Edinson Cavani arriving on deadline day on a contract until the end of the season with the option of a further year.

The 34-year-old striker’s future remains unclear beyond the end of this campaign and talk about a long-term solution continues, with Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland regularly linked.

“We’re always looking to improve our squad, of course we are,” Solskjaer said.

Erling Haaland

United have been linked with Norway star Erling Haaland (Liam McBurney/PA)

“I would never ever start to think the way you think on Edinson turning 35 next year because he’s just turned 34.

“You and I have different mentalities – that’s a completely different way of thinking.

“And I always say that Mason (Greenwood), Anthony (Martial), Edinson… when we can really get them really firing that means we’re a very good team.

“But we’re always looking at better players, of course we are.”

Cavani is in line to return from a muscle complaint against Crystal Palace on Wednesday, just days after United’s contentious goalless draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Solskjaer bemoaned the impact of other managers’ comments about his side’s penalty record after seeing a spot-kick appeal for handball ignored by referee Stuart Attwell after a review recommended by the video assistant referee.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Thomas Tuchel

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer rallied against rival managers and mind games after full-time at Chelsea (Ian Walton/PA)

The Norwegian has previously said that he would keep out of managerial mind games but when asked if he will have to start employing them to get a fair ride, he said with a laugh: “No.

“I believe in, how can I say it, fairness, karma and I’m just made the way I am.

“I will make it despite of, not because of. So, that’s just me. We’ll get through it. Don’t worry about that.”

Solskjaer’s side have won two of their last seven league games heading to Palace, where Donny Van De Beek may miss out and Paul Pogba’s absence continues due to a thigh issue picked up at the start of February.

“I hope we will (see him before March’s international break), definitely, and he’s very positive,” the United boss said of the France midfielder.

Paul Pogba

Solskjaer hopes to have Paul Pogba back soon (Peter Cziborra/PA)

“He’s working really hard. He knows when he gets back we haven’t got two or three games to give him time to play into form so he’s working hard on his fitness.

“When you’ve got the quality of Paul his fitness is the main thing and mentality.

“You know when the sun is out in Manchester there’s nothing to complain about.”