Manchester United are looking below par as the season is well underway. Photo: David Klein/Reuters

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer refused to criticise his beleaguered players after Manchester United’s abject defeat at West Ham yesterday.

The Norwegian’s side produced a turgid display at the London Stadium to fall to their second defeat of the season.

Their performance was pilloried by ex-captain Roy Keane and former boss Jose Mourinho during Sky Sports’ coverage.

But Solskjaer insisted: ‘The players are doing what I’m asking them to. There are key moments in games that can tip these games in our favour and you make maybe a bad decision on a pass — left, right, centre — but the attitude and desire is there.

‘That’s not the problem. It’s the quality in our decision-making, sometimes in the execution. It’s a good group to work with. They are determined.

‘Sometimes along the road, we are going to hit some bumps, as we’ve said — some highs and lows. This group is out there determined, they showed the desire, it was a good atmosphere in the dressing room. They’ve got the focus right.’

To compound United’s misery, first-choice striker Marcus Rashford is facing a spell on the sidelines after sustaining a groin injury in the second half.

The injury means Rashford is likely to miss next Monday’s visit of Arsenal and leaves the forward in a race against time to prove his fitness for England’s Euro 2020 double-header against Czech Republic and Bulgaria next month.

But the 21-year-old’s international availability will be the least of Solskjaer’s concerns as he has a seriously depleted forward line.

Anthony Martial (groin) and Mason Greenwood (tonsillitis) were both unavailable yesterday, although Solskjaer is hopeful of having at least one of them fit for the Carabao Cup game against Rochdale on Wednesday.

Nevertheless, Rashford’s injury raises further questions over why forwards Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez were allowed to move to Inter Milan without replacements being signed.

Solskjaer said: ‘Rashford felt his groin, he will probably be out for a little while. It’s just one of these moments.

‘Historically we’ve had loads of centre backs struggling with injuries. At the moment it’s strikers.

‘We made a decision on that (to let Sanchez leave on loan to Inter) and I still think it was the best one for us and for Alexis.’

On the Hammers victory, manager Manuel Pellegrini said: ‘We deserved three points. I’m very happy about all of it today.

‘It doesn’t matter who we play, we have to show we are able to beat them.’

Daily Mail