Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has launched an extraordinary attack on the Premier League’s ‘joke’ scheduling after Manchester United beat Everton 48 hours after returning from Champions League action in Turkey.
Solskjaer, whose job is under pressure following a poor start to the season, sounded like ex-United boss Sir Alex Ferguson as he blasted the authorities following United’s 3-1 lunchtime win at Goodison.
The angry Norwegian revealed United had asked the Premier League a month ago to switch the fixture to Sunday so his players could rest following their 4,000-mile round trip to Istanbul.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer blasted Premier League schedulers after watching his side beat Everton
United cruised to 3-1 victory at Everton Park in the Premier League’s early kick-off on Saturday
And he cited injuries suffered by Luke Shaw and Marcus Rashford as further examples of players being ‘harmed’ by the lack of common sense around fixtures.
‘Our boys were set up to fail today with the scheduling,’ he raged. ‘How can you expect players to perform with the 12.30 kick off time? It’s an absolute joke.
‘Of course we tried to move this game. What sense was there playing Saturday lunchtime when we could play Sunday because of the international break afterwards.
‘I pushed my club to really fight on this one to give us half a chance. But it was just quashed and we were told ‘No, it’s been selected’.
United fought back from falling behind to earn invaluable victory against Everton on Saturday
Fernandes celebrates hauling United level and his performance set the tone for the victory
‘There have been too many serious injuries in the Premier League this season that can be from physical or mental fatigue.
‘We want this product to be the best in the world. We don’t want it to harm any player. These are difficult times for everyone, not just football, and we need to look after everyone.
‘Use common sense, and sort out the schedule. This is such a serious issue, that we don’t look after these players. They are not robots, they are human beings.
‘We came back from Turkey about four o clock on Thursday morning and are asked to play 12.30 on Saturday.’
The Portuguese playmaker arrived late in the box to meet Luke Shaw’s inviting cross
United have played three matches in six days including their midweek Champions League trip
Though Everton took an early lead through Bernard, United eased the pressure on Solskjaer with a brace from Bruno Fernandes and a first goal for the club from substitute Edinson Cavani.
But some gloss was taken off by a hamstring injury to Luke Shaw while Marcus Rashford finished in discomfort because of his shoulder.
‘They will be assessed. Hopefully it is not too serious but they looked in a bad way towards the end,’ added the United boss.
After poor results against Spurs, Chelsea and Arsenal and conceding a schoolboy goal to Istanbul Basaksehir in midweek, United’s players fought for their manager while Mauricio Pochettino continues to wait in the wings.
Edinson Cavani was introduced as a second-half substitute and scored his first goal in England
‘The boys were not going to give anyone a chance to take three points off us today. They were so determined,’ said Solskjaer.
‘There was a zip about us in the first half but there were tired legs and tired minds in the second half and we went into survival mode, hanging onto the result.
‘I thought Harry (Maguire) was top against (Dominic) Calvert-Lewin who is one of the best in the world in the air with his spring and timing.’
Maguire was also caught by Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford whose high challenge went unpunished three weeks after he injured Virgil van Dijk in a similar incident, though Maguire was unscathed on this occasion.
Solskjaer revealed that left-back Luke Shaw suffered an injury during their comfortable victory
Man United fixtures
Premier League unless stated
November 21 West Brom (H)
November 24 Istanbul Basaksehir (H)
Champions League group stage
November 29 Southampton (A)
December 2 Paris Saint-Germain (H)
Champions League group stage
December 5 West Ham (A)
United are at home to struggling West Brom after the international break before a difficult trip to in-form Southampton.
‘Of course we want more consistency to go on a run and climb the table and qualify for the Champions League,’ said Solskjaer.
‘No-one likes to be criticised, I don’t think my players like to be criticised, so of course they were going to come out and show what they are about.
‘My job is to make sure their guard is up every time. We can’t go into any game thinking it is going to be easy and we don’t have to work. We have to outfight and outrun teams as well. Today was an exceptional performance for a long time after a difficult week for the boys.’
After topping the table, Everton have lost all three games in which Richarlison has been suspended.
The Brazilian is free to return after the break but Carlo Ancelotti says his immediate priority is getting the team to work on keeping the ball out.
‘We didn’t defend well after we scored first and they took advantage,’ he said. ‘We were slow at the back and have to improve.
‘I hope that after the international break we will back in a different shape. It is not only a problem of the defenders, it is all of the team.’
Maguire said it was a perfect response to the defeat in Istanbul when Demba Ba was allowed to break clear from a United corner to run free from the halfway line. ‘I think we know that goal can’t happen,’ he said.
‘It made it a frustrating night for us and the individuals held their hands up in the dressing-room afterwards and apologised. We are a good group who work really hard and we’re all in this together.’