Man United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has said he will not tolerate having ‘rotten apples’ at the club impact the spirit and focus of his squad.
With the Red Devils three points off the top four heading into the restart, Man United are in a good place after a surge in the second half of the season under Solskjaer, who in his first full-season in charge at Old Trafford.
Speaking to the Shiv Nadar Foundation, the former Man United forward insisted that although he wants to win, he also wants his squad of players to have the right character and not be rotten apples impacting the rest of the basket.
“I did feel that I was professional and did feel privileged to play for Manchester United,” Solskjaer said. “I wouldn’t be able to look at myself if I didn’t know I’d given everything for my team-mates and my manager. That’s what I also now look for in players that we sign or we bring up from the youth team. You have to have a good personality and that you are professional because one rotten apple in the basket will make the others rotten.
“So for me it’s about building a team that will reflect me and my coaching staff’s personalities and views. Of course there are standards because we want to win. We are in the business to win. But the first step to be a Manchester United player and person, you have to be humble enough to know you always have to work hard. Never give in and always do your best, 100 per cent effort is required every day and don’t think you are better than you are. You still have to play with that confidence at the same time. It’s a fine balance but that is what is going to make the difference when we want to get to the championship again that we want to win.”
It’s clear he is saying that he only wants players totally committed to the club and anybody who doesn’t want to be there should not be there. Whether these comments relate to players currently at the club remain to be seen but Solskjaer is leaving a lot out in the open here.
As for his recent new signings Daniel James, Odion Ighalo, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Bruno Fernandes and Harry Maguire all seem like good apples. They are all very level-headed and have been carefully picked to bring in the right type of character to Man United’s current squad, as Solskjaer hopes they will harvest good results in the coming months and years. I will stop with the farming/fruit analogies now…
Solskjaer is setting out his stall (sorry, one more) and he’s been big on creating a new culture and identity at Man United, one similar to the environment created by the great Sir Alex Ferguson.
Whether Solskjaer has the character or leadership to pull that off remains to be seen but in an industry where success is judged by whether you win or not, it is admirable that Solskjaer wants good characters first. Maybe, just maybe, he’s onto something here.