Ole Gunnar Solskjaer praises Mauricio Pochettino but says Manchester United will attack Spurs

James Ducker
The Telegraph
Ole Solskjaer has overseen a transformation of mood and playing style at Old Trafford - AFP
Ole Solskjaer has overseen a transformation of mood and playing style at Old Trafford - AFP

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has admitted there is good reason why Mauricio Pochettino is in the frame to become the next manager of Manchester United - and potentially dash his own dream of landing the job.

Pochettino is the overwhelming favourite to take over at Old Trafford in the summer and will face his suitors on Sunday when United play his Tottenham Hotspur side at Wembley.

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But Solskjaer is hoping to do enough between now and the end of the season to convince United’s board to hand him the job on a permanent basis after his appointment as caretaker manager in the wake of Jose Mourinho’s sacking last month.

Solskjaer has won his first five games in charge and will earn another feather in his cap if United overcome an in-form Spurs to boost their prospects of a top four finish.

But the Norwegian fully understands why Pochettino - whom United would have to pay as much as £34 million in compensation to prise from Spurs - is a wanted man.

“He [Pochettino] has done a very good job, he is one of the … he is … that speculation [about the United job] is there for a reason because he has done well but it’s not my job to rate managers, my focus is on me and my team,” Solskjaer said.

Tottenham represent the toughest test yet for Solskjaer’s United, who arrived back from Dubai on Thursday night after a six day training camp in the Middle East.

Paul Pogba has been passed fit to play following a knee injury suffered against Newcastle that forced the France midfielder to miss the FA Cup win over Reading last Saturday and join up late with his United team-mates in Dubai. “He did have some problems but came through last couple of sessions well so he should be OK,” Solskjaer said.

Solskjaer has adopted a much more attacking approach than Mourinho and has insisted that will not change against Spurs, despite recognising his team will have to make the most of the chances they get.

“You always adapt to any opponent, they are one of the best in the league so we have to be aware of their strengths but I have been brought up … we need to attack teams,” he said.

“That is our strength - going forward, attacking. We are not going to get as many chances to attack against these as we had before so when we have the ball we have to be ready to play well with it and we have to use the whole pitch because Wembley is a decent size pitch as well.

Asked if this was United’s first real test after games against Cardiff, Huddersfield, Bournemouth, Newcastle and Reading in which his side scored 16 goals, Solskjaer said: “No, we have had tests.

“Newcastle away is a test and the first game against Cardiff, how everyone reacted is a test, the first home game [against Huddersfield] with the crowd is a test. Every single game you get tested, but this is against top, top side. If we want to go closer and get past them we need a good performance and a good result.

<span>Old Solskjaer has been imparting wisdom during warm weather training sessions in Dubai</span> <span>Credit: GETTY IMAGES </span>
Old Solskjaer has been imparting wisdom during warm weather training sessions in Dubai Credit: GETTY IMAGES

Solskjaer admits United can ill afford to give any space to England striker Harry Kane, who has seven goals in his past six games. “He is not bad, is he?” Solskjaer said.

“He is a fantastic goal scorer and one of the best in the world but I have got a couple that I am happy to work with. He is a fantastic finisher, he never misses chances so let’s make sure he doesn’t get any against us.”

Marcos Rojo’s future at United looks increasingly bleak with Solskjaer revealing that the defender has returned home to Argentina in a bid to clear his mind after his injury battles and does not know when he will be back. “He has gone back to Argentina for a while because of his injury,” he said. “How long will he be out for? How long is a piece of rope. For him it was mentally important to go away and come back fresh again.”

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