Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes being under pressure at Manchester United is normal and vowed his players would produce a strong response against Watford.
United travel to Vicarage Road in the Premier League on Saturday amid huge speculation over Solskjaer’s job security.
Demoralising home defeats against main rivals Liverpool and Manchester City have increased criticism of the United manager, with his team already nine points behind leaders Chelsea after 11 matches.
But asked if he felt safe in his job, Solskjaer replied: “Yeah, the players, the staff, myself, the club – we are working to one goal which is to improve and get better results.
“When you lose a game you are always disappointed and under pressure – we have been communicating openly and honestly.
“The fans are still supporting the team and the club; they have been through this period and backed the team through the rebuild.
“There is one game that matters and this week has been really good for training. Form and performances haven’t been good enough. We can do better, should do better and it’s down to performances on the day. I am sure we will see a reaction.”
United travel to a Watford side hovering two points above the relegation zone following a run of four defeats in their last five matches under Xisco Munoz and new boss Claudio Ranieri.
Ranieri is no stranger to himself being under pressure, and indeed losing his job, which he accepts is part and parcel of the position.
“A manager is like a parachutist – you don’t know if the parachute will open or not,” he said. “Sometimes, people don’t even give you the parachute!
“When you take a decision, you are alone. But of course when you think about it, you think ‘I am alone for the decision’, but of course there’s a club behind you, there’s players who can express your idea.
“That’s it, there is satisfaction also. But of course the manager is a man alone.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Watford – Ben Foster
The Hornets have conceded at least once in each of their last 21 Premier League games – their longest ever run without a clean sheet in the top flight. Foster saved a penalty in the 1-0 loss to Arsenal last time out, but the former Man Utd goalkeeper’s save percentage of 63.64 is the second lowest of any Premier League keeper this season to have played at least half of their side’s games, behind only Norwich City’s Tim Krul (60 per cent).
Manchester United – Bruno Fernandes
Fernandes has had to defend his own form this season, with his goal tally taking a hit now that compatriot Cristiano Ronaldo is on penalty duty. But he has still been one of United’s top performers, the Portuguese attacker having created more chances than any other player in the Premier League this term with 37.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Watford have lost 12 of their 14 Premier League matches against Manchester United (W2) – against no side have they lost more.
– In the top flight, Man Utd have won 18 of their 26 matches against Watford (D4 L4), a win ratio of 69 per cent. Among teams they have faced at least 20 times in their top-flight history, they only have a higher win ratio against Luton Town (73 per cent – P30 W22).
– No team has failed to score in more different Premier League matches than Watford this season (seven). In the four games in which the Hornets have managed to find the net however, they have netted at least three goals on three occasions.
– United are winless in three Premier League matches against newly-promoted teams, drawing against West Brom, Leeds United and Fulham last season. They have not gone four in a row without a win against such opposition since a run ending in September 1997 that saw them fail to beat Sunderland, Derby County, Leicester City and Bolton Wanderers.
– Solskjaer’s side have lost four of their last six league games (W1 D1), as many as they had in their previous 40 in the competition (W24 D12). Four points is Manchester United’s fewest over a six-game spell in the Premier League since November/December 2015 under Louis van Gaal (three points).