Solskjaer refuses to blame Champions League exit on Pogba disruption
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer refused to blame claims that Paul Pogba is “unhappy” for their Champions League exit after a 3-2 defeat at RB Leipzig.
United were punished for a slow start, conceding early goals by Manchester City loanee Angelino and Amadou Haidara before Justin Kluivert put Leipzig 3-0 up midway through the second half.
United pulled back goals in the final ten minutes as Pogba came on to score a late header to make it 3-2 after Bruno Fernandes converted a penalty.
In the build-up, Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola said the World Cup-winning France midfielder, 27, is “unhappy” and needs a “change of scene” after struggling to establish himself under Solskjaer.
Solksjaer gave a terse answer when asked if Raiola’s comments had unsettled his side.
“The squad is fine, they are a team and they stick together, as soon as Paul’s agent realises it’s a team sport and we work together, the better,” he said.
“That is the last thing I want to say about it,” Solksjaer replied when asked if he had spoken to Pogba about Raiola’s comments.
Instead, the Norwegian blamed the defeat on his side’s lethargic start.
“We didn’t perform well enough as a team,” he said.
“We knew they would come at us and put crosses in the box and, unfortunately, we conceded two goals and never got going.
“We just didn’t turn up until they scored the second goal – then we started playing.”
He praised his team’s fightback.
“They gave their all, I can’t fault anyone’s effort and we were close to getting the third, which would have been an achievement against a good Leipzig side,” he added.
The 47-year-old said he needed to cure United of their habit of beginning slowly in European games.
“We didn’t start until it was 2-0, which is something we need to address again, we need to manage that better,” Solskjaer added.
United face a Manchester derby at the weekend.
“As a footballer you can’t feel sorry for yourself. You can do for a few minutes tonight, but that’s it. We have a massive game on Saturday and we need to focus on that.”
Leipzig avenged their 5-0 thrashing against Manchester United at Old Trafford in October to the delight of their coach Julian Nagelsmann.
“It wasn’t easy to have had a 5-0 defeat in October, then to have to win the second game to go to the knock-out stage,” said Nagelsmann who steered Leipzig to the semi-finals last season.
“We got the win today and I think it’s deserved.”