Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has hit back angrily at Robin van Persie after the former Manchester United striker criticised him for smiling after the defeat at Arsenal.
Van Persie made the comment as a pundit for BT Sport after the Norwegian’s post-match interview at the Emirates on Wednesday night.
Solskjaer bristled when it was brought up at his weekly press conference yesterday.
The United manager insisted that he won’t alter his approach and issued a sharp put-down to Van Persie, who inherited Solskjaer’s No 20 shirt at Old Trafford in 2012, five years after the Norwegian had retired.
‘I don’t know Robin and Robin doesn’t know me,’ snapped Solskjaer. ‘He probably doesn’t have a right to criticise my management style and I won’t change.
‘Robin, he took my No 20 and that’s probably all he’s going to take from me as well... because I’m not in medieval times.’ The final words were delivered as Solskjaer left the room, implying that he believes Van Persie’s views are outdated.
The Dutchman (below) had said in the wake of United’s 2-0 defeat at Arsenal: ‘When I listen to Ole, he sounds like a really nice guy. I would like to see him a bit more mean at times — just be angry. I see him smiling now after a game like that. This is not the moment to smile.’
They weren’t the only comments that demanded a response from Solskjaer yesterday, creating an unwanted distraction from this evening’s FA Cup third round tie at Wolves. He was also asked about accusations by Paul Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola that the problems at United are wrecking players’ careers.
‘I wouldn’t take anyone there, they would even ruin (Diego) Maradona, Pele and (Paolo) Maldini,’ said Raiola. ‘Paul needs a club and a squad, one like Juventus was before.’ Asked if agents should be commenting on clubs, Solskjaer replied with a curt ‘no’ before adding he is likely to address the issue personally with Pogba, who had ankle surgery on Thursday after just two comeback appearances.
‘Paul is very committed to coming back and playing well for us. It’s hard when you’re injured to go and talk about all sorts. I think his talking needs to be when he comes back on the pitch.’ Pogba again dominated the agenda yesterday, much to Solskjaer’s frustration as he tried to clarify a comment in midweek that the decision to send the Frenchman for surgery was made by ‘his people’.
‘That’s maybe my bad English,’ explained Solskjaer. ‘As in when you consult your surgeon and the ones you trust. You want the best second opinion and the advice was to have it done.’
He added that Pogba’s injury is different from the one that kept him out for three months. ‘It’s some bone fragments,’ said Solskjaer. ‘It’s not a massive injury but it will keep him out for a while.’
Solskjaer confirmed that the injuries to Pogba and Scott McTominay mean that Nemanja Matic will stay at the club.
United’s problems have been compounded by an illness in camp. Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard were sent home from training yesterday.