Ole Gunnar Solskjær has revealed he had a meeting with Paul Pogba regarding the Frenchman’s future and is confident the 26-year-old will stay at the club beyond the summer.
The conversation between the two came after Pogba had praised Real Madrid and Zinedine Zidane, the Spanish club’s manager, during the international week. At the weekend Zidane admitted he liked Pogba “a lot”.
Yet Solskjær is confident Pogba wishes to stay at United for the foreseeable future. “No, [those comments don’t] really concern me because my thought of action then is to sit down and speak to Paul and I’ve had my chat with Paul and we’re fine,” the Norwegian said.
“He’s going to do his utmost here because he knows I’m very fond of him as a player and a person and he is important for us. There is no issue.”
“I don’t like to talk about other teams’ players, of course, but this is another challenge with international breaks. Players are available all the time [to the media] as well and it’s a different environment, a general talk. Paul is a very nice and polite man who answered a general question about Zidane, who is an icon in France and a fantastic manager. He used to be a fantastic player and he’s just politely answered that question. But Paul’s happy here, he’s going to be a big part [here]. I’ve said before you like to build your team round him and that hasn’t changed at all.”
United plan to appoint a technical director (a director of football in all but name) before the end of the summer and Solskjær said he will embrace this. “Football has changed and the structure at football clubs has changed,” the 46-year-old said. “Me and Ed [Woodward, executive vice-chairman] and Joel [Glazer, co-chairman], for that matter, are looking to how can this club be run as smoothly and as well as possible. I’ve got an input in most of the things now [he is the permanent coach] and, I’ve got to say, the communication between me, Ed and the owners is very good. We discuss different names, though of course I am not the one who decides.
“So we’ll see what the club will end up with and I’m happy discussing football with knowledgeable people in the right positions anyway. That’s the way football goes – a manager can’t do as much as he used to do when my gaffer [Sir Alex Ferguson] started [in 1986]. I think the demands of football nowadays mean you’ve got to split responsibilities.”
It is understood United have met several potential candidates for the post though, given the appointment requires a fundamental grasp of the club’s culture, the search is continuing. The role is an overarching one with responsibility for the first team and the long-term direction of the academy. Part of the remit is the ability to identify a teenage talent who could be loaned to a club United have a development relationship with and such strategic links are being explored.
While the removal of José Mourinho, who was opposed to the position, has made securing a technical director smoother, both Solskjær and the recruitment department have a veto: both have to agree on any prospective candidate.
Last summer the recruitment department vetoed Mourinho when he identified centre-backs he wanted. This may have caused the Portuguese’s subsequent public disquiet regarding the failure to buy one. Leicester City’s Harry Maguire and Bayern Munich’s Jérôme Boateng were two players Mourinho suggested.
United travel to Wolves for Tuesday night’s 32nd Premier League game of the season and the Norwegian believes that, if his side can claim 15 points from the last available 21, then a Champions League berth can be attained. After Wolves United’s last matches are West Ham United (at home), Everton (away), Manchester City and Chelsea (h), Huddersfield Town (a) and Cardiff City (h).
Solskjær said: “Everyone knows now, if we do our jobs, say 15 points then in the last seven games, we’ll be in the Champions League next year. I don’t think I have to remind them [the players] of that [what’s at stake].”