The United caretaker-boss insists there will be no compromise in approach as he comes to terms with the absence of 10 injured players
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has called life as a Manchester United player “survival of the fittest” as he comes to terms with an injury crisis which leaves him without 10 players heading to Crystal Palace on Wednesday.
United lost three players to hamstring injuries in the first half of their clash with Liverpool on Sunday, while Marcus Rashford limped on for the remainder of the game with a hamstring problem which makes him a doubt for the trip to south London.
That came on the back of the Champions League loss to Paris Saint-Germain during which both Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard were lost by half-time due to injuries.
And while Solskjaer admits that his insistence on a higher intensity in games compared to predecessor Jose Mourinho may have had an effect on players, there will be no compromise for as long as he remains in caretaker charge.
“It’s probably linked, yes, because when do you make that change? Do you wait until pre-season and think you will change results by just not asking them to run, or do we start now and show them what the demands of intensity are and how we want to play?” he told reporters
“Well you have seen what I have chosen, I have chosen that we need to play as a Man United team and if you want to be a part of Man United, it’s survival of the fittest isn’t it?”
Among those to be missing through muscle problems are 30-year-old pair Nemanja Matic and Juan Mata, and 29-year-old Ander Herrera. And Solskjaer, whose own career was curtailed by injuries during his thirties, adds that as players get older there is a greater need to adjust their standards of preparation.
“They are getting older aren’t they, Juan, Nemanja, Ander? So it’s about the preparation, the standards that you have to live up to on and off the pitch as a Man United player, and as a professional player in the Premier League, it’s not just turning up playing and training and then going home and doing all these little out-of-football activities that we have all seen too many footballers doing.
“That was a big part of my career, as long as you are a footballer and you play in the Premier League, make the most of it because suddenly you get these injuries and you are done. And that wasn’t a nice feeling, that is when I decided I wanted to stay in football and start coaching, but I tried to make the most of it by living the life as I should have been.”
Solskjaer dismisses the notion that he could have rotated more in recent fixtures, but stresses that a busy period ahead – with Palace, Southampton, PSG, Arsenal and Wolves all to come in the next 18 days – may necessitate more cautious selections.
“If you look at it, we’ve had five or six days between most of the games, so it’s not been the amount of games or the lack of days in between. It’s tougher now until the international break, and we’ve got Sunday, Wednesday, Saturday, then midweek again, now we will go into tough games and then it’s a tougher period physically.
“Maybe it’s mental, the way we prepare before training sessions. You can see Manchester City have a couple of muscle injuries, it’s not just us. It’s this time of year in England really.”
United head to Palace looking to regain fourth spot from Arsenal, who sit one point ahead of the Red Devils.