Ole Gunnar Solskjaer bid farewell to Manchester United players twice last Sunday.
The Norwegian was sacked in the wake of the club’s shock 4-1 defeat at Watford the day before, and made an unusually final interview, reflecting his time in leadership. During his long farewell, he also made the point of talking to the players he left behind at Carrington Training Ground.
“[He spoke to us] Individually, around breakfast time, and then we had a meeting before we went out for training, and it was completely different,” said Marcus Rashford. Sky Sports.
“I was here when the coaches left packing their things and walking out the door. But it just shows how good a person he is, and how much the club means to him.
“Ole knows he will always be a legend at this club and the players here respect him 100 per cent. It’s a pity it didn’t go our way as a group. The way he started, the position he got us, we came a few times close to winning big trophies and it always seemed like we fell short. .
“If those moments went our way, we could end up winning two or three titles, he might have had more time. But this is football, things happen, and you can only move forward after that. As hard as that is, you have to find a way. to move forward.”
Rashford, a United fan, had a special connection to Solskjaer. “Inside you feel guilty because everyone has a role to play when you’re on the court,” he says. But there was little time to think.
Last week was a good example of how fast things can progress in football – especially at Manchester United.
By Tuesday, in the transition period, Michael Carrick was leading the team to a decisive victory over Villarreal, which sent United into the last 16 of the Champions League. A day later, Ralph Rangnick was revealed to be the man who would lead the club until next summer.
It’s been a hectic few days, and with a trip to Premier League leaders Chelsea, broadcast live on Sky Sports, this Sunday, the drama is set to continue.
United go to Stamford Bridge after losing five of their last seven in the Premier League. But Rashford says their win in Spain in the middle of the week – and some wise words from their former manager – provide a template for how to re-find their form.
“Obviously preparing for that match was difficult for us,” he said. “We were already in a tough spot and with Ole leaving it makes things even more difficult. But one of the things Ole always told us was, when you’re on the field, stay consistent.” This performance was against Villarreal.
One of the things Ole always told us was, “When you’re on the field, stick together.” And that performance against Villarreal was so.
“We all stuck together, digging deep. They are a good team and keep the ball a lot and we found a way to win the game.”
Tuesday’s win was a notable result for Carrick, but Rashford said the reserve coach had not made any significant changes to the way the team was preparing for matches under Solskjaer. Instead, the players redoubled their efforts.
“A lot of the principles have stayed the same because they are the principles that brought us closer to winning these titles,” Rashford said. “Not much has changed.
“The players inside us find us to give 110 per cent and we have to keep doing that. We know we are in an uphill battle but everyone is ready to fight and we have no one on our team who is ashamed of that. Everyone is looking forward.”
He adds that off-pitch changes are not an excuse to distract players. Instead, the trip to Villarreal and the upcoming match with Chelsea provided welcome opportunities to refocus on the next step.
And although the Premier League leaders will be the favorites for that clash on Sunday, Rashford says United are heading there with the intention and belief that they will get three points.
“It can be disconcerting if I think about it. But I don’t,” he said. “I am concentrating on the next match and working with Carras and the coaching staff. What can we do to win the next match? That is what is important and all we can focus on.
“In our situation now, you want intense and fast games, you want them to be challenging games, and you want the games to bring our best in to see how good we are.
“We were at the previous level where we were close, so we know we can do it. We just have to find it within ourselves to do it again. For me, I’m glad the games are coming along so quickly.”
“Tactically, the director [Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel] He is a very good manager. We played against him a few times when he was at PSG and he was good tactically in those matches as well.
“The offensive line is exceptional, they have a strong midfield, players who can keep the ball… They are a great team and they will definitely fight for the title this year – but that doesn’t mean we can’t beat them.
“We have things that can hurt them, we have players that can hurt them, as long as we’re together and pick the right moments to go, we’ll be fine.
“The mental state of the players and the technical staff is positive, we go there to win the match. With this mentality and spirit that we have, anything is possible.”
Premier League preview – expect the impact of a “whirlwind” from Rangnick on Manchester United | its goals | Plus: Brighton, Brentford Analysis
Peter Smith joins Sky Sports analyst Alan Smith and football journalist Simeon Gholam as they look ahead to the Premier League weekend.
part One | Alan Smith discusses the appointment of Ralph Rangnick as interim manager of Manchester United, what he will bring to the club, and how he can help his young players get off the ground. Will it pave the way for Mauricio Pochettino? Alan is evaluating the advisory role for Rangnick, who is also set to begin next summer.
Part 2 | Simon Glam breaks down Brighton’s mixed start to the campaign and what they must do to get back into winning ways against Leeds.
Part 3 | Simeon – our EFL editor – is also looking at newly promoted Brentford, who also had a good start followed by a frustrating period, ahead of Super Sunday’s clash with Everton.