Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knows Manchester United need to hit the ground running if next season is to be a success.
A poor start to the 2018-19 campaign resulted in Jose Mourinho’s men falling behind the pack, leading to the Old Trafford hierarchy eventually wielding the axe in mid-December.
Solskjaer then oversaw a remarkable upturn in fortunes when brought in as caretaker manager but things went awry after his permanent appointment and United stumbled home in sixth.
The gap to relegated Cardiff in 18th was the same to champions Manchester City at the end of the season, and Solskjaer knows his side need to start as they mean to go.
“Of course the transfer window will close when the league starts,” the United boss said.
“The start of the season is important, that’s why we’ve worked them hard.
“I don’t think many of the players have had a pre-season like this before in the last two or three years because there have been championships. It’s their first pre-season for a little while.
“So, for us, in the first eight to 10 games you don’t win anything but you can definitely lose the chance to win things. The first two months is vital for us.”
Getting players in as soon as possible will also play an important role.
So far, Swansea flyer Daniel James and Crystal Palace right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka have been the only additions, with the club keen to still at least bring in a ball-playing centre-back and central midfielder.
Asked for a transfer update by PA, Solskjaer said: “As I’ve said a few times, we’re working on one or two cases but my objective here now is we’ve got to get ready for the games and training sessions.
“And if I’ve got to travel somewhere, I will, and you won’t be able to ask me.”
Solskjaer was speaking at Singapore’s National Stadium, where United will continue pre-season preparations against Inter Milan on Saturday in the International Champions Cup.
Romelu Lukaku, a key transfer target for the Serie A side, will miss his third straight friendly with an unspecified knock.
Addressing the issue, Solskjaer said: “He’s not fit so he won’t be available.”
As to whether he expects Lukaku to be at the club next month, the Norwegian added: “I don’t have any updates from the last time I spoke to you. So yeah, I do.”
Lukaku watched training from the sidelines in Singapore, where Fred and Matteo Darmian trained with the group after being allowed to miss the Australia leg of the tour for personal reasons.
“Today we are going to have to see where they’re at because they’ve been training back home,” he said.
“Fred’s been over in Brazil, had his wedding, got married so he has probably got loads of energy and I’m sure he is keen to join in.”
Solskjaer expects David De Gea and Luke Shaw to be available to face Inter after illness and a hamstring issue respectively.
The United boss, meanwhile, has thrown his support behind Anthony Martial ahead of the new campaign.
Solskjaer is confident the £36million capture from Monaco four years ago can enjoy potentially his best season with the club after witnessing his form so far in pre-season.
“Anthony can be a world-class forward and I think if you followed Anthony in the last few seasons the way he’s come back to pre-season now, his attitude is absolutely spot on,” he said.
“There’s been a couple of instances where you can see a new Anthony in the way that he works for the team.
“He has always got the quality, talent, he’s going to score goals and his work rate is improving. I expect him and Marcus to be even better than last season.
“Anthony had a top season when he came, his first season top scorer, then he’s had a couple of seasons where he’s not hit that amount of goals and quality so I’m sure we will see a better Anthony this year.”
Manchester United posted a video of manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer playing cricket with his coaching staff at the West Australia Cricket Ground in Perth, Australia.
Solskjaer took gentle throwdowns and in one instance, hit the ball to the leg side where Michael Carrick took a fine one-handed catch.
Manchester United are currently on their pre-season tour ahead of the start of the upcoming 2019/20 season.
United play against Inter Milan in a friendly in Singapore on in Saturday’s .
Marcus Rashford believes “frightening” talent Mason Greenwood will only benefit from the faith Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Manchester United show in young players.
After scoring 30 goals in 29 appearances for the academy sides last season and making his first-team debut, the 17-year-old looks set to become an important member of the first-team squad moving forwards.
Greenwood has impressed during pre-season and scored his first senior goal for the club as United swatted aside Leeds 4-0 at Optus Stadium, where Solskjaer said he would have no hesitation starting him in their Premier League opener.
The teenager started in attack on Wednesday with Rashford – a player who knows all about breaking through at Old Trafford and dealing with growing expectation.
“It’s definitely a nice thing,” the forward, still only 21, said after the match in Perth.
“For him, you have to understand people’s characteristics. He’s quite a laid-back person so I think for him it’s no good putting things in his head constantly and repeatedly.
“He’s a clever kid so he’ll learn it as he goes, but, yeah, his natural abilities are frightening.
“The manager is obviously doing a good job in sort of guiding him in the right direction and the more you do that, his talent will just come through.”
Greenwood was one of three academy graduates to be handed their debut by Solskjaer last season, with James Garner and Tahith Chong the others given their bow.
Fellow youngsters Angel Gomes and Axel Tuanzebe are others to have got a chance during the pre-season trip to Australia, giving them the kind of belief that can only boost young players.
“You know, mentally for the young lads, that does a whole lot for them,” Rashford said.
“They know if they play well and they perform, they’re going to get a chance.
“It’s nothing to do with how old they are. You know, they’re definitely going to get that opportunity.
“For the players as well it’s important to know that, the club’s legacy of bringing players through. It’s as good as anyone’s.”
Rashford has benefited from that philosophy and is looking to kick on by adding more goals to his game.
Asked if people should expect more, like Solskjaer has called for, next season, the forward said: “Yeah, 100 per cent.
“The patterns of play are a big one for me. You know, we can make things more simple for each other, and the more we work on it the better we’re going to get at it.
“For me it’s about patience and understanding the development process and keep improving as a team.”
Those comments offer an interesting insight into the work being done during the pre-season tour to date.
“It has been tough,” Rashford, who has scored in both friendlies, said.
“Every day we’ve been working hard.
“But I feel like we’re… it’s more for me the images that we’re getting in our heads – things like playing style, on the ball and off the ball, how to press, how to defend compact.
“Things like that are starting to become clearer as a team.
“We’ve still got a long way to go and we’re still going to continue to work hard on it, but it’s nice to see when it works on the pitch.
“So, you know, it is back to the training pitch now and more hard work.”
Rashford, who recently signed a new deal until at least 2023, is now preparing to head to Singapore, where United kick-off their International Champions Cup campaign against Inter Milan.
“It’s a big step up but I feel as though we’re ready for it now,” he added.
“We’ve had two.
“I think this game was tougher than the first one (against Perth Glory) in terms of the intensity, so the intensity has gone up.
“And hopefully it goes up again because these last three or four games, that’s where we’ll start to feel that real match sharpness.”
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