Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has claimed some Manchester United players believe they are better than they actually are.
Erik ten Hag’s predecessor as permanent United manager also blamed agents and family members for creating “a disease of modern football” by inflating players’ egos.
Solskjaer’s comments in a wide-ranging interview with The Athletic come at a time when his long-term successor Ten Hag faces a litany of problems on and off the field.
Reflecting on his own near three-year reign as United manager, Solskjaer said some members of his squad were guilty of putting themselves before the club and expressed profound disappointment at the two players who rejected the chance to become captain.
Asked if he felt he was thrown under the bus by United’s players, Solskjaer said: “No. Not really. Some weren’t as good as their own perception of themselves. I won’t name names, but I was very disappointed when a couple turned down the chance to be captain.
“I was also disappointed when others said they wouldn’t play or train because they wanted to force their way out.
“There was stuff in the media after I left about how I treated some players, which were complete lies, but I had a solid, honest relationship with most of them.”
Solskjaer was sacked in November 2021 in the wake of a wretched 4-1 defeat at Watford, when he told his players at half-time he would probably lose his job, and his interim replacement Ralf Rangnick was severely critical of the club he inherited. Rangnick would later claim United required “open heart surgery” to fix the problems.
“The club he [Rangnick] found in November 2021 was different from September 2021,” said Solskjaer, pointing to how quickly he felt things unravelled at Old Trafford in his final two months in charge.
He gave Rangnick his opinion on every player and said that the traditional United collective spirit had been lost.
“Some players felt they should’ve played more and weren’t constructive to the environment. Agents and family members get into their heads and tell them they’re better than they are because they have a vested interest. It’s a disease of modern football.”
Solskjaer said he could sympathise with Ten Hag’s current struggles but claims the Dutchman has not been working under the same transfer limits as he encountered.
“I can’t remember every signing I made, but I should because there was a cap on three main ones every season,” he said. “United have spent a lot more in the two summer transfer windows since I was there.”
One of Solskjaer’s most expensive signings, Jadon Sancho, is currently exiled under Ten Hag after refusing to apologise publicly for a social media post in which he effectively accused the manager of lying about the reasons for his omission against Arsenal this month.
Solskjaer admitted he did want to sign Sancho after the England forward was identified by scouts as the No 1 target for the right wing position but said the player himself preferred the left flank.
“Yes, I wanted to sign him,” he said. “Jadon was put up as the No 1 target for the right wing by the scouts and when you look at his talent, I could see why but he prefers to play left wing… where Marcus [Rashford] plays.”
Solskjaer was sacked only a few months after Cristiano Ronaldo returned to the club. Asked what he felt about the move for Ronaldo and how he found working with the Portugal forward, Solskjaer said: “It was a decision that was very difficult to turn down and I felt we had to take it, but it turned out wrong.”