Nuno Espirito Santo previews Manchester United clash
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The directors of Manchester United have put their faith in manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for a short while longer. The Norwegian boss has led his side to just three victories in the club’s last nine games and fans are, understandably, calling for the club legend to be sacked. And the former striker is expecting a heavyweight-sized effort from his side to turn their fortunes around.
The Red Devils crumbled to a 5-0 defeat last weekend at the hands of Liverpool, with several poor defensive errors allowing Jurgen Klopp’s side to never have to get out of first great to secure all three points.
Reds winger Mohamed Salah scored a hat-trick at Old Trafford in the victory taking his tally for the season to ten goals, with Diogo Jota and Naby Keita also getting on the scoresheet.
The defeat means that the pressure has piled on the shoulders of Solskjaer, and he is thought to have three make or break games against Tottenham Hotspur, Atalanta and Manchester City to save his job.
Against Liverpool, the likes of Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka all drew criticism for their poor individual displays, but Solskjaer believes as a whole his team all need to bounce back.
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Speaking ahead of United’s game against Spurs, the former Cardiff City boss asked for his players to return from rock-bottom like boxer Tyson Fury.
He said: “You see Tyson Fury when he gets knocked down a couple of times, it’s remarkable how calm and composed he is when he’s on the floor, count to six, seven, eight and gets ready, ready to go again.
“Maybe we got up too early and tried to sort it. Minds have to be better but, of course, we’ve had to look at different things, and of course, you have to be upfront and honest. The communication has to be direct.”
The reference from Fury refers to how the two-time heavyweight champion often returns from the canvas in his fights if he is knocked down, unwilling to cave in to defeat.
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The 45-year-old manager continued: “We need a reaction,” said Solskjaer. “It’s my job to put the players in the right frame of mind.
“I’m responsible for the reaction, result and performance. We’ve worked on everything on the pitch that needs to be sorted for a footballer.
“We’ve had a good week and I feel that the boys are ready to give their best, as they always do.
“Nothing went to plan [against Liverpool] and that was nowhere near our best.”
Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers, Zinedine Zidane and ex-Chelsea boss Antonio Conte have all been linked with the potential future vacancy, and the latter is believed to be interested.
According to numerous reports, Conte is willing to listen to any offers from United if Solskjaer’s spell in the dugout at Old Trafford comes to an end.
The Italian is happy to take on the challenge as long as he buys into the club’s vision.
Conte won the Premier League in the 2016/17 season with the Blues, implementing his 3-5-2 with much success and setting the record for most victories in a season (30).
Red Devils supporters have a lot to be excited about if United do secure Conte’s signature, however, that is assuming that Solskjaer is unable to get a reaction out of his players this weekend.
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