Solskjær shrugs off calls to imitate Guardiola’s style at Manchester United

Jamie Jackson
·2-min read
<span>Photograph: Paul Ellis/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Paul Ellis/Reuters

Ole Gunnar Solskjær has dismissed suggestions that Manchester United should imitate the tactical plan of Pep Guardiola’s free-scoring league leaders, with the manager confident his own style sticks to the club’s traditions of pace, power and quick attacks.

United travel to City for Sunday’s derby trailing the Premier League pacesetters by 14 points with 11 matches remaining and while Solskjær’s side are second only to City in goals scored – with 53 – their past three games have ended in goalless draws.

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Critics of the United manager suggest his side are primarily a counterattacking team and that he has no clear strategy for breaking down opponents who defend deep. Given Guardiola’s success at City, Bayern Munich and Barcelona, Solskjær was asked if he had ever considered following his derby rival’s methods.

“We all have philosophies and beliefs in ways to win games,” Solskjær said. “There have been loads of different ways of being successful – we as a club have been successful, I feel we are improving and getting closer to winning things.

“I have always believed in my way of playing football and sometimes you look at other managers and think you’ll adopt one little thing from his way of playing, one little thing from another. Every manager builds a team around a club’s culture.

“We have a culture at Man United that we want to stick to: traditions, built from Sir Matt [Busby] and Sir Alex [Ferguson]: pace, power, quick attacks. No one has invented any style by themselves. They have taken little bits from other managers and teams and I have taken a lot of my football philosophy from the time I was here at Man United and in Norway [as a player]. I had some great coaches there with the same beliefs that we have to attack quickly when there is the chance and the opposition is out of balance then you counterattack.

“All the best teams can counterattack. All the best teams can break down a deep block. It’s about players – the quality [of them] and we are getting there – and getting better in most parts of our game.

“I was the same as a player. I couldn’t be the same as Becks [David Beckham] but I always wanted to cross the ball as well as Becks. I couldn’t be the same player as Giggsy [Ryan Giggs] but I liked to dribble as good as Giggsy and be on the front foot.”

Solskjær believes the depth of his squad is approaching that of City. “It is getting deeper and better. Some need experience: Alex [Telles], Donny [van de Beek], Edinson [Cavani], Amad [Diallo] and Facundo [Pellistri] had not played in the Premier League,” he said.