Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Manchester United got what they deserved as Wolves punished the worst performance of his caretaker reign and reached the FA Cup semi-finals.
Molineux bore witness to a famous night on Saturday as Nuno Espirito Santo led the club to the final four for the first time in 21 years.
Raul Jimenez’s strike on the turn and a superb solo effort from Diogo Jota put Wolves on course for victory against a ragged United side lacking the skill, verve and intensity that Solskjaer had instilled.
A late Marcus Rashford goal did nothing to lift the mood and the interim manager had no complaints about the result of this quarter-final clash.
“It was a big step backwards, I’ve got to say,” Solskjaer said. “That’s the poorest performance since I’ve come here. The lack of urgency forward, lack of forward passing, lack of regains.
“Sometimes international breaks come in handy and we would have loved to play it again and put it right.
“Hopefully some of them will have good experience with the national team, some will have a few days off and train hard here.
“Then we will be ready to push again because we’re in a great position in the league, we’re in the Champions League.
“Very disappointing tonight, though, that we’re not in the semis.”
United’s second successive defeat brought an abrupt end to Solskjaer’s honeymoon period, leading him to give his side an honest post-match appraisal.
Asked what he said to the players, the Norwegian said with a laugh: “Well, the truth. I’ve said to them not to you.
“But of course, you can’t sit down and sulk too long. Of course, we’re disappointed, everyone is disappointed, but we have got to look forward and look behind the result today.
“We’ve done that quite well. We know that we’ve played well against Arsenal last week and didn’t get what we deserved.
“Today we got what we deserved because we never deserved to win this game.”
The reversal of Victor Lindelof’s red card on the Video Assistant Referee’s advice counted for little and Wolves boss Nuno was understandably delighted after sealed a spot at Wembley.
“It means a lot, it means a lot,” the Portuguese said. “The FA Cup is the oldest competition there is.
“We played well and we achieved it with the amazing support of our fans, pushing us and believing in us.
“The noise was fantastic, so when you achieve something I see that we did it together. We did it together.
“We did it with Liverpool, with Shrewsbury. It was tough. But we have to go and prepare ourselves for the next one.”
Nuno heaped praise on goalscorers Jimenez and Jota after the match at a bouncing Molineux, where the manager is revered after leading them from the Championship and into the upper reaches of the Premier League and now an FA Cup semi-final.
“What pleases me more is as I walk down the stands there are people saying that they saw the 50s and 60s and they are still coming to the stadium,” he said.
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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has opened Manchester United‘s doors to Paul Scholes after the midfielder quit as Oldham manager by text message just 31 days into the job.
The 44-year-old signed an 18-month deal last month to take his first step in management with his boyhood club.
But things quickly went awry at Boundary Park and Scholes quit the Sky Bet League Two side on Thursday after one win in seven matches.
The former England international left claiming it had become “clear that (he) would not be able to operate as intended and was led to believe prior to taking on the role”.
Those sentiments were shared with Solskjaer, who has invited former team-mate Scholes into the Aon Training Complex for a chat.
Asked if he was surprised to see Scholes leave, Solskjaer responded with a laugh: “Were you? Well, he’s probably got his reasons why he left. You’ve got to ask him (if he will go into management again).
“He’s invited here if he wants to come and have a little chat about it. I’ve texted with him of course and it didn’t work out as he wanted, so that’s just management.”
The subject of Scholes coming into the club was revisited later in the press conference.
“He’s been great so far and you see ex-players coming in and if they want to learn, if they want to stay for a few days, a week,” Solskjaer added.
“Because Kieran (McKenna), Michael (Carrick), Demps (Mark Dempsey) and even in the academy there’s so many good coaches.
“And I know when I was away that I would have loved to come in and maybe do some study visits, but I had work, so I didn’t get the chance to do it.”
Scholes spent some time coaching at United after retiring for the first time in 2011, then worked during Ryan Giggs’ short interim period at the helm three years later.
Another return to the Old Trafford backroom team looks a long way off having surprised Oldham with his decision to leave.
Latics owner Abdallah Lemsagam was shocked to receive Scholes’ resignation via text message and said he would have liked to have the chance to “find solutions” to any grievances.
“I am disappointed by Paul’s decision to resign and surprised by the reasons he has given in his statement,” Lemsagam said in a statement.
“Both myself and the staff at the club gave Paul all the support and autonomy that he asked for. I personally was always supportive of any decisions Paul made or consulted me on reassuring him that he was the man in charge.
“I continued to encourage him despite the results and reassured him that his job was secure.
“I was content to remain in League Two for this season and working with the team we have for the remainder of this season is important.
“Paul and I both agreed that there is potential, but I reassured him that he had my full backing to rebuild the team of his choice next season.
“He did not raise any concerns at all about the team or any other matters informally or formally, prior to his resignation. He gave no opportunity or indications that he needed to address any issues at all.
“I have been in Dubai over the last couple of weeks and actually (felt) at ease knowing that he was in charge.
“I was very surprised as he simply resigned by text on Wednesday afternoon and has refused to discuss matters that influenced him to make his decision.”
The Wales star has been linked with a move to Old Trafford for years and talk of an exit from Real Madrid has intensified since Zinedine Zidane’s reappointment last week.
Bale’s agent Jonathan Barnett has repeatedly stated Bale’s intention to remain at the Bernabeu, but United are one of just a handful of clubs with the wherewithal to acquire the forward.
Former manager Jose Mourinho made no secret of his desire to bring the 29-year-old to United, but caretaker boss Solskjaer was coy about a potential summer move.
“I can’t really comment on Gareth Bale or specific names because they’re property of other clubs,” the interim United manager said.
“But we should look for quality players, definitely, and players who could improve us as a team.
“There’s so many factors you need to think about when you sign players.
“It’s not easy – I don’t know if it’s easy either – when you’re in the media or when you’re a supporter, you can think short-term.
“We’ve got to think about the longevity as well, who’s going to fit in personality-wise.
“So, there’s so many things that we need to think about.”
Bale has been at Real Madrid since 2013 and is a four-time winner of the Champions League, although there is no chance of a fifth this term after bowing out to Ajax in the round of 16.
United’s hopes of European glory remain alive after overcoming Paris Saint-Germain and, speaking before being drawn against Barcelona, Solskjaer said they have proved that “on any given day we can beat a top team.”
“The confidence in the players, it’s sky high,” he said. “And the mood is good, the training attitude is good, so hopefully we can keep that run going.
“There have been a couple of comments about ‘you used to have number 20′ and it is 20 years since the treble’ and blah, blah, blah.
“I believe that you get what you deserve in life, in sports.
“If you put the work in, I believe, if you work hard, show the right attitude, if you go in every single day and do the right things you can maximise your chances.”
Before that comes a key FA Cup quarter-final at Wolves on Saturday evening – a match Romelu Lukaku could join the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Ashley Young and Juan Mata in missing.
United are looking to bounce back from their first domestic defeat under Solskjaer last weekend at Arsenal – a side they overcame in the fourth round of the FA Cup.
There have also been wins at Chelsea, Tottenham and PSG in recent months, so the suggestion that Solskjaer has got lucky has naturally worn thin.
“I think I’ve answered that question quite well here,” he said with a smile. “I think you earn your luck, but sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, eh?
“Any game you lose is a big anti-climax. It’s the worst feeling you can have.
“And that’s maybe the only good thing about that Arsenal defeat, to feel how much it hurt.
“Because PSG we still had a chance to correct it and before then the last game I lost was against Ranheim on 26th August, so it was a long time ago.”