Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer fires back at ‘disrespectful’ question and reveals what he said at half-time against Atalanta

Manchester United came from two goals down to beat Atalanta and spare Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s blushes (Picture: Getty)

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hit out at the ‘disrespectful’ suggestion Manchester United’s players were fighting for his future in their stunning 3-2 victory over Atalanta, insisting that representing the club was motivation enough for his squad.

The Red Devils came from two goals down to secure all three points in a Champions League thriller at Old Trafford, with Cristiano Ronaldo heading home an emphatic 81st winner to send them top of Group F.

Goals from Mario Pasalic and Merih Demiral had given Atalanta an imperious lead inside 29 minutes, but a pair of superb finishes from Marcus Rashford and Harry Maguire drew the hosts level in the second half.

Ronaldo, the competition’s all-time top goalscorer, took the roof off the Theatre of Dreams with his decisive late goal, just as he had done three weeks earlier with a last-gasp strike against Villarreal.

Speaking to BT Sport shortly after the final whistle, a no doubt relieved Solskjaer – under intense pressure after a run of four defeats in United’s previous games – praised his players for never giving up hope.

‘I thought we played well in the first half. It was two chance, two goals. That has to stop if we are to survive past 50,’ the United head coach said.

‘We’ve got a habit of doing this at this club. I thought we played well and then out of nothing they scored the first goal.

‘But they never stopped believing, they kept on going, made a few mistakes, but they kept on going.’

Ronaldo sent Old Trafford into raptures with his 81st-minute winner (Picture: Getty)

On whether his players were perhaps playing for his future, an annoyed Solskjaer fired back at Des Kelly: ‘Don’t even start!

‘Don’t disrespect the players. They played for Manchester United and they’re the luckiest men in the world. I said that to them.

‘Tonight they are the luckiest men in the world, the XI plus the subs, they’re the ones that can play for United and that’s what so many millions of boys and girls want to do.’

United were a different team in the second half and Solskjaer was always confident his side could secure maximum points.

Asked what he said to his players at half-time, Solskjaer replied: ‘Make sure we get the next goal because we will win the game.

‘As long as we don’t concede a goal I was pretty sure we’d win the game because we did create chances in the first half as well and it was just about taking them.’

Ronaldo received widespread criticism for his underwhelming performance in United’s 4-2 defeat away to Leicester at the weekend.

But Solskjaer felt the Portuguese’s display against Atalanta will have silenced those doubting his work-rate.

On Ronaldo’s crucial late winner, the Norwegian added: ‘He’s great in front of goal. If anyone wants to criticise him for work-rate or attitude, just watch this game.

‘Just watch how he runs around.’


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