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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: Summer decisions have harmed United

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: Summer decisions have harmed United

ESPN

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Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba has been pictured alongside Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane in Dubai, following a summer of speculation the pair were interested in linking up in the Spanish capital.

Pogba had said he was interested in a "new challenge," while Zidane made his admiration for his compatriot public. However, Pogba stayed at Old Trafford as Madrid were unable to match United's valuation of the France international.

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But this image, captured by UK newspaper the Daily Mirror, adds to the speculation Pogba could make a move to the Bernabeu in the future.

Sources have told ESPN FC that Pogba remains Zidane's No. 1 midfield target, while president Florentino Perez is keen to sign Christian Eriksen from Tottenham in a cut-price deal.

United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was asked about the picture in his news conference previewing Sunday's huge clash with Liverpool at Old Trafford, but said he did not have a problem with it.

"Paul is part of our plan," Solskjaer said. "He's been playing through the pain barrier but when he came back against Rochdale and Arsenal he wanted to play but it was too painful.

"He's on the way back and he's recovering. It's a picture and when you play for Manchester United you have pictures taken and there's speculation. I don't have any problem with that at all."

Pogba, 26, has missed much of the season through injury and will again sit out the game against Liverpool due to a problem with his ankle, and has been aiding his recovery with training in Dubai.

MANCHESTER, England -- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has said the Manchester United manager's job is not too big for him, but admits summer decisions have "harmed" his team.

United could end the weekend in the bottom three if they lose to Liverpool on Sunday, but Solskjaer said he believes he can handle the mounting pressure at Old Trafford. 

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"I've never felt it's too big for me," Solskjaer told a news conference on Friday.

"I'm confident in what we're trying to do and with my staff, I've been so impressed.

"We have a plan and we have made some decisions in the short term that we knew would harm us but in the long term would benefit us, and that's part of the plan.

"Results are always the main thing and we can move forward quicker with results and performances."

Solskjaer said he stands by his decision to let Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez leave without signing replacements, despite a struggle for goals that has seen United net just five times in their last seven games.

The Norwegian is hopeful of having Anthony Martial back from a thigh injury to ease the problem, but goalkeeper David de Gea remains a doubt after suffering an abductor injury on international duty with Spain.

Paul Pogba, meanwhile, remains sidelined with a foot problem amid fresh speculation of a move to Real Madrid after he was pictured with coach Zinedine Zidane in Dubai.

"Paul is part of our plan," Solskjaer said.

"He's been playing through the pain barrier, but when he came back against Rochdale and Arsenal he wanted to play, but it was too painful. He's on the way back and he's recovering."

Of the photo of the France international and Zidane, he said: "It's a picture and when you play for Manchester United you have pictures taken and there's speculation. I don't have any problem with that at all."

Liverpool can match Manchester City's record of 18 straight Premier League wins with victory over United, although they have only won once at Old Trafford in the last 10 years.

Solskjaer is searching for just his sixth win as permanent manager after a dismal run of form that has contributed to their worst start to a season for 30 years, but the 46-year-old said United can match Jurgen Klopp's table toppers.

"They're doing well in the league, that's for sure," Solskjaer said.

"We're looking forward to this game. I think it's the perfect game for our players, the perfect game for our fans. We've had a tough time, a difficult time lately, but I'm sure we'll give them a good game."

ESPN