Ole Gunnar Solskjaer appreciates the expectations on his Manchester United side are high as they return to Premier League action against West Ham.
United are unbeaten in 28 away top-flight games – the longest run in English league history – conceding just 19 goals in the process.
They have also won their last two meetings with Sunday’s opponents as they go in search of a third consecutive win against West Ham for the first time since 2014.
However, following a surprise 2-1 Champions League loss to Young Boys on Tuesday, Solskjaer acknowledged his side need to respond on Sunday.
“They’re focused of course, a little bit disappointed but not too downbeat. We know it’s a setback and we have to do better, and we’ve got five games to get the 10 to 12 points we need,” Solskjaer told reporters.
“[It’s] not the start we wanted but we’re a good team that can bounce back again and the group is very good.”
Asked whether the media’s reaction post-match surprised him, Solskjaer responded: “No, it doesn’t surprise me. I’ve got my job and we do our job, you tend to in the media get judged by behaviours and outcomes rather than intentions.
“It’s black and white. But we go into the game with good intentions, we make changes with good intentions, go into a tackle and make a pass with good intentions.
“The outcome always decides which headline we’ll see and very, very rarely is the game fantastic or really, really bad, it just hovers about good or not good enough.
“We know the expectations are high and we expect more of ourselves as well, the performance wasn’t up to our standard.”
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) September 15, 2021
Questions piled on regarding Solskjaer’s capabilities following the surrender of a one-goal lead against Young Boys, with the removal of Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo being key issues for some.
But Solskjaer evaded questions over his management style or philosophy, instead insisting the desire of the United team could prove the difference between winning and losing this term.
“I don’t sit here and claim and talk… football is a simple game and it’s about making good decisions and being in a team,” he continued.
“Sometimes we look too much into all the intricacies – it’s passion, it’s desire, who wants to win the ball? Which one of the strikers has the desire to get on the end of crosses?
“You can talk about all sorts, it looks nice on paper. But when you go out on that pitch, it’s who wants to win, that’s one of the big things. You want winners and I think I’m getting there with my team, team players.”
The United head coach is also hoping to have Edinson Cavani back from injury soon, with the Uruguay striker’s only involvement for the Red Devils this season coming in a 37-minute cameo against Wolves at the end of August.
Since then, he has struggled with fitness issues, but Solskjaer is confident the former Paris Saint-Germain star can be involved again from next week.
“Edinson [Cavani] hopefully will start training with us after the weekend, maybe Monday, so maybe involved on Wednesday,” he added.
“He had a fantastic season last season, the impact he made when he got his fitness… He struggled with niggly injuries early on.
“We feel that to get the best out of him this season we need to get him 100 per cent fit and not rush him. We’ve got a strong squad that will cope with having to let players heal and not risk any further injuries.
“I see Edinson having a massive impact, he’s that type of personality and player. He can’t wait to play and he’s working really hard to get back on the pitch.”