LONDON: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer accepts Manchester United are no longer the force they were during the trophy-laden years under former manager Alex Ferguson but has backed the new generation of players to build a brighter future.
United’s away supporters whipped up a lively atmosphere with songs hailing the iconic players of the past as Solskjaer’s side were held to an uninspiring goalless draw by Dutch side AZ Alkmaar in the Europa League on Thursday.
The performance was a far cry from the glory days at Old Trafford when Ferguson guided United to 13 Premier League titles during his 26-year reign.
“We’re not in the 90s now,” Solskjaer told reporters ahead of Sunday’s league trip to Newcastle United. “It’s a different era, a different group that we’re building.
“We know there are going to be ups and downs. I’m ready to see these boys blossom.
“I don’t know what the opponents think of us. I just know sometimes when you walk off games, we’re not doing bad here.
“Sometimes there’s a gap. I’ve felt that a couple of times, but not very often.”
United have made their worst start to a league season in 30 years and the result in Holland extended their winless run on the road to 10 games across all competitions.
Like Solskjaer, Newcastle boss Steve Bruce is also facing widespread criticism with his team currently 19th in the table and without a win since August.
“Brucey is going to set up a team to win,” Solskjaer said. “I’m going to set up a team to try to win.
“We’re going there, it’s a great stadium to play at. We’re looking forward to the game. We’ve hopefully got many players fresh for Sunday.”
United midfielder Paul Pogba missed the midweek game for further treatment on his ankle injury, and Solskjaer does not expect him to be ready for the weekend’s trip to St James’ Park.
“It might be time for us to give Paul 10 or 14 days extra to be ready for Liverpool,” Solskjaer said.
Jesse Lingard is also likely to miss out after suffering a hamstring injury against Alkmaar while the game may come too soon for Anthony Martial and Luke Shaw.