With subsequent PCR tests all negative, a huge headache was averted on the eve of the new season, but Solskjaer admitted it was a warning of challenges they might face in the future.
” This [Preston] I think it was a testing error because all nine tests were positive and then the next day when we did a proper PCR test they were negative, but if it happened the day before the first league game it would be a problem, ”he said. “It’s not our fault what happened, but it cost us some preparation time, it cost us a few days away from the training ground. So when you say summer was perfect, it wasn’t perfect because the world isn’t perfect.
Wise Ole Gunnar Solskjaer facing job pressure at Man Utd as rivals’ improvement poses greater challenge for title
Par James Ducker
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s bedroom at the opulent Old Course Hotel which served as Manchester United’s retreat at a training camp in St Andrews this week overlooked the iconic 17th hole of one of the world’s most famous in the world.
The so-called Road Hole, with its treacherous bunker on the green, is littered with obstacles, much like the challenge Solskjaer will face this season as he proposes to end United’s eight-year wait for win the Premier League title and prove the club were right to back him with a new three-year contract last month.
Not that he’s saying the new deal will mean much if it fails to deliver on its promises. “For me you have to do well enough to stay anyway,” the United manager said. “It doesn’t matter if you have a 10-year contract or a 1-year contract, if you don’t do well, you go. You constantly feel pressured. At this club, it’s not just about hanging on to your job, it’s about the responsibility that is in my hands.
United have signed Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane, the latter undergoing medical examination, this summer in an attempt to close what was a 12-point gap with Manchester City last season, but is it enough when the champions are ready to to break the Premier League? Twice transfer record in a few weeks remains to be seen.
Jack Grealish arrives at City from Aston Villa for £ 100million, a sum that eclipsed the £ 89million United paid Juventus to Paul Pogba in 2016, and Harry Kane’s £ 150million could still follow his English teammate to the Etihad stadium.
“Of course you pay attention and you notice that maybe there is a lot of money spent elsewhere,” Solskjaer said. “We have to meet the challenges. Anyone who finishes above last year’s champions will be the champion.
With European champions Chelsea hoping to add former United striker Romelu Lukaku to their ranks and Virgil van Dijk returning to bolster Liverpool’s defense, Solskjaer says’ it looks like this coming season is [going to be] one of the strongest seasons in the Premier League ”.
“Of course, it’s City and Liverpool who have been fighting for a few years,” he added. “I think Chelsea and we spent and worked well and we should see ourselves as potential challengers – but that’s potential. The first game is the most important, then the first block of games and then you have to keep that momentum. “
United face Leeds in their opener next Saturday and Solskjaer makes no secret of the importance of starting after poor starts in each of the previous two campaigns, although late returns from players who have been to tournaments this summer have complicated preparations.
“You put each season in blocks, but the first six or seven games are very important in setting the tone and giving you a chance,” he said. “I read somewhere that Pep [Guardiola, the City manager] says you can’t win the league in the first eight games, but you can lose the chance to win it and that’s what happened to us last season.
“I felt we had lost too many points at the start. From November 1 to Leicester [defeat] in May we only lost one league game. It is consistency that we want to review.
Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, David De Gea, Victor Lindelof, Paul Pogba and Fred only joined the squad this week after their efforts at Euro and Copa America, Sancho and Edinson Cavani report even later and Varane is unlikely to be involved until next week. Add to that Marcus Rashford sidelined until the end of October following shoulder surgery, Alex Telles out until next month and goalkeeper Dean Henderson unavailable as he recovers from Covid and the situation is not ideal.