Ole Gunnar Solskjaer turns to ‘the dark side’ as he hones in on key to save Man Utd job

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer speaks ahead of Man Utd v Watford

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Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has, by his own admission, turned to ‘the dark side’ of football in an attempt to secure a result against Watford on Saturday. Amid intense speculation over his future with the club, the Norwegian is in desperate need of a convincing victory ahead of a tough run of games. 

With results already faltering, Manchester City’s dominant derby win was left to fester over the international break. 

A host of big names are linked with the job including Zinedine Zidane and Mauricio Pochettino, among others, while Brendan Rodgers denounced the rumours linking him to the hotseat this week. 

Although no concrete action has been taken yet, Solskjaer will be fully aware that results need to change quickly for him to shrug off both internal and external pressure. 

With one clean sheet from their past 13 games in all competitions, it is therefore understandable that his focus in training has been on stopping leaks. 

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“We have gone games now where we have conceded chances and we can’t concede easy chances against any team,” he said.

“We are playing against a Watford team that are well-organised, very good at counter-attacking, very good at set-plays.

“So, focusing on this game, of course you’ve always got to make sure your defending is right.

“That’s probably the dark side of football that you know you have to work on, and we have put lots of things right.

“But the patterns, the timing, the relationships on the pitch, when we’ve got the ball as well, and it’s looked really good in training.

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“Then it’s about transferring that to the game.”

Alongside Solskjaer and the United team as a whole, plenty of eyes will be focused on centre-back Harry Maguire this weekend after enduring a tough few weeks. 

He was granted a brief reprieve after scoring in both England games during the international break, but that did not stop former Red Devils captain Roy Keane branding him ’embarrassing’. 

At least he is likely to have the bit between his teeth against the Hornets, but one man Solskjaer will not be able to call upon is Paul Pogba after he sustained a thigh injury while away with France. 

A projected three-month absence puts his United future in yet more doubt, with less than a year to run on his current deal. 

“It was a disappointing injury for Paul, a disappointing time for him of course. I’m not a doctor, of course, but we can’t say how quickly it will heal,” added Solskjaer.

“You hope, fingers crossed, for six or seven weeks and the worst case scenario is 10, 11, 12 weeks, with muscle injuries like this. Hopefully just after Christmas we can see him.”

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