Asked if he could get the best out of his squad at the post-match press conference following Manchester United’s disappointing 1-1 home draw with Everton, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said:
‘I am very confident we will get the best out of this squad.
‘A lot has happened this month and we have had Rafael (Varane), Cristiano (Ronaldo) and Jadon (Sancho) with us from August, well Cristiano only from September, so we have loads to work on and we need to improve.
‘We know that, I know that, but I do believe in this group of players and the coaching staff that I have got.
‘So, yes, is the short answer.’
Valid? Or the latest in a long line of excuses for his under-performing side?
United are on the longest home run without keeping a clean sheet in fifty years. Varane has played in only four of those games. He was not majorly at fault for any of the goals conceded in those four games, so is his bedding-in period really an issue?
Sancho, it is true, is taking time to find his feet at United but it is hardly as if there are not other options at Solskjaer’s disposal. The England international was not even in the starting XI for Saturday’s game, and his cameo off the bench was one of the brighter elements of United’s performance. So this can hardly be seen as a problem.
Has Ronaldo’s arrival caused disruption? The 36-year-old has scored five goals in six games. He certainly does not seem to have needed time to settle in, but perhaps the side does still have to adapt to his presence. Debatable.
But this is probably being too generous to Solskjaer.
United’s previous manager, José Mourinho, is famous for his ‘excuses’, but Solskjaer is becoming prone to the same disease. Settling in periods, refereeing decisions, Jurgen Klopp’s influence on United’s penalty allocation, fixture scheduling, the blame game is being played to its full this season.
But the simple fact is that the Norwegian has one of the best squads of players in world football, with few injuries, and they should be doing better than they are.
The buck stops with Solskjaer and it is time he admitted that he and his coaching team needs to improve.