MX23RW : Saturday, January 19 09:17:32

Solskjaer: Pochettino speculation is there for a reason

Solskjaer: Pochettino speculation is there for a reason
© Reuters
Favourite meets caretaker this weekend.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer understands why Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino has been heavily tipped to take the reins on a permanent basis at Manchester United.

Pochettino has led Spurs to top-three Premier League finishes in each of the last three seasons while his brand of attacking football has earned plenty of admirers both in this country and on the continent.

The Argentinian is the favourite to be appointed the full-time successor to Jose Mourinho in the summer although Solskjaer, who is in caretaker charge until the end of the season, has made an encouraging case for retention.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knows why Mauricio Pochettino is rated
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knows why Mauricio Pochettino is rated (Martin Rickett/PA)

The Norwegian has equalled Sir Matt Busby's record in winning his first five fixtures at the helm of United and he could further his cause when he pits his wits against Pochettino and Tottenham this weekend.

Assessing his potential rival, Solskjaer said: "He has done a very good job. That speculation is there for a reason – because he has done well.

"But it's not my job to rate managers, my focus is on me and my team."

Solskjaer rejected the consensus that Sunday's showdown at Wembley marks the first acid test of his reign.

Pochettino is the favourite for the United job
Pochettino is the favourite for the United job (Peter Byrne/PA)

United have seen off Cardiff, Huddersfield, Bournemouth and Newcastle – all of whom are in the bottom half of the table – in the league while they defeated Reading in the FA Cup last weekend to extend Solskjaer's perfect start.

Solskjaer said: "No we have had tests, Newcastle away is a test and first game how everyone reacted is a test, first home game with the crowd is a test, every single game you get tested.

"But this is against top, top side. If we want to go closer and get past them we need a good performance and a good result."

The former Red Devils striker has been handed a boost with Paul Pogba set to return from injury.

Paul Pogba is fit
Paul Pogba is fit (Martin Rickett/PA)

Pogba has looked rejuvenated in recent weeks, with four goals in as many games under Solskjaer, but he sat out the win over the Royals after injuring the back of his right leg following a challenge by Newcastle midfielder Jonjo Shelvey last week.

Pogba initially remained in Manchester for treatment as his team-mates went to Dubai for a warm-weather camp before then jetting out to the Middle East.

Solskjaer said: "He looked OK towards the end there, so he'll be fit.

"He did have some problems but he came through the last couple of sessions well, so he should be OK."

There was more unwelcome news on Marcos Rojo, however, with Solskjaer revealing the defender has returned to his native Argentina to continue his recovery from injury.

Rojo has made just three appearances all season and is unlikely to add to that anytime soon.

Solskjaer added: "He's gone back to Argentina for a while because of his injury.

"Mentally it was important for him to get away and then come back fresh again."


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Paul Pogba celebrates scoring for Manchester United against Bournemouth on December 30, 2018.
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