London: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made clear on Friday he was no longer contracted to the team he had coached in Norway, but played down chances of being offered a permanent deal to manage Manchester United.
United are unbeaten in the league since Solskjaer arrived in December, and pressure on the Premier League club’s hierarchy to ask him to stay on after his interim tenure expires in June was ratcheted up several notches with Wednesday’s memorable comeback win against Paris St Germain.
Asked if speculation about a permanent contract bothered him, the former United striker told reporters: “I love managing these boys and I love working here. I’m just doing the best I can every single day. If and when a decision is to be made, then we will see.” He said his deal with Molde had been terminated the instant he joined United, contradicting comments by his former employer.
Molde CEO Oystein Neerland said on Wednesday he expected Solskjaer to return after his stint with United ended, having signed last year to remain at the Norwegian club until 2021.
“That contract (with Molde) was terminated and I am contracted to United until the end of June,” Solskjaer said ahead of Sunday’s league trip to Arsenal.
“With the contract issue, you cannot have two contracts when you are a manager.” Solskjaer said defender Eric Bailly and forward Anthony Martial would be available for the clash at Emirates Stadium.
He hoped midfielders Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera would also recover in time. “They just need to have another couple of days training with the team, they’ve done well in their recovery work.”
Solskjaer also said he expected Marcus Rashford to kick on following the stoppage-time penalty that sealed a dramatic victory in Paris, comparing the young striker to the way Cristiano Ronaldo cut his teeth at Old Trafford before moving to Real Madrid in 2009.
“Rashy’s goals sometimes are worldies and he does have a sensational strike of the ball,” Solskjaer said.
“But you see the change in Cristiano’s goals from when he was young to now, he scores more from inside the box and that’s what Rashy has to improve as well.”
Arsenal manager Unai Emery is confident his team can bounce back from their Europa League setback in Rennes when they face a euphoric United at home.
The Gunners played most of Thursday’s game with 10 men after Sokratis Papastathopoulos was sent off late in the first half as they threw away an early lead to lose 3-1 in France in their Europa League last 16, first leg.
The result means they should have their work cut out if they are to progress to the quarter-finals, with the second leg against the Ligue 1 club scheduled for next Thursday.
Before that game, Arsenal entertain United in a huge game between two sides battling for a top-four place in the Premier League.
“We are finding fresh players and a different energy for each match, and for Sunday I think it’s going to be the same,” said Emery, whose side are fifth in the Premier League table, one point behind United in fourth.
“Every player worked a lot and we are going to look forward to the next match, but I know and I am positive for Sunday, that with fresh players with energy, with quality, that we have the possibility to put in a big performance against Manchester United and win against them.”