OLE GUNNAR SOLSKJAER has clearly learned from the Master when it comes to handling tricky situations off the pitch.
Sir Alex Ferguson was often at his most positive in press conferences in times of trouble.
He would put on a United front, even if there might be problems behind the scenes. He never called out an individual player.
So when the issue of Paul Pogba came up here yesterday, Solskjaer went into full defence mode.
Trouble is clearly brewing with both Pogba and his agent Mino Raiola publicly angling for a move.
But at the Waca cricket ground in Perth, Ole played a straight bat on the subject — and even tried to hit a few fours as well.
For all the current travails at Manchester United, their manager is endlessly positive and constantly smiling.
So on Pogba, he said: “Paul’s never been a concern for me. He’s working hard, a true pro, a proud boy.
"I can’t be sitting here talking about Paul and what agents are saying, we’ve got a few years left of his contract and he’s been fantastic.
Agents talk all the time and as I said, we’ve not had any bids
“He’s a top bloke, a great professional, he has never been any problems and has a heart of gold.
“Paul’s never put himself out of the team, always given his best and I can’t report anything but that.
“But agents talk all the time and as I said, we’ve not had any bids, that’s all I can say for this matter.”
Solskjaer also downplayed a video that was put out on United’s social media accounts which showed Pogba and Jesse Lingard arguing and being separated by Victor Lindelof.
The boss’ claim there might be an agenda against Pogba is totally wide of the mark.
Fergie claimed the English press had something against Juan Veron.
They didn’t. He just wasn’t very good at United and every time he left for international duty with Argentina, he was quoted about leaving Old Trafford.
The problem with defending Pogba after what he said publicly is you cannot just blame the agent this time, as Sir Alex did when the Frenchman left United for Juventus in 2012.
LUKAKU ON WAY OUT?
Pogba’s public utterance about it being time for a new challenge is unprecedented for a star name at the Theatre of Dreams.
This used to be a club people wanted to play for, not quit.
But in defending Pogba, could it send out the wrong message to other players who might try and engineer a move?
So Solskjaer has a job keeping that situation under wraps while also dealing with Romelo Lukaku’s push to leave and David De Gea’s stalling on a new contract.
Although, again he sounded positive on that front.
Solskjaer added: “David has had a summer where he’s been negotiating and we hope we’re going to get it sorted. I’m positive, of course.
“I’ve said many times how lucky I am and happy we are to have him in goal.”
We’re Manchester United, we don’t have to sell players and don’t have to overpay
Indeed, Ole was very upbeat about his whole squad and the prospect of adding to new signings Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James.
The Norwegian gaffer said: “We’re still in the market looking to do some business but we’re patient.
“We’re Manchester United, we don’t have to sell players and don’t have to overpay.
"You have to have the right players at the right price and if you look at the squad now, there are so many good players.”
The trouble is, the fans do not share his optimism.
But Solskjaer said: “The loudest ones probably will not be the greatest fans or the best ones.”
A few fans were quick to take offence to that comment on social media.
The point he was trying to make, however, was the ones who take to phone-ins and Twitter are not always the loyal support.
In the same breath, the Old Trafford legend said: “The passion in our fans is fantastic and they want us to be successful.”
His positive demeanour was a notable contrast to Jose Mourinho’s in pre-season this time last year.
United had come off the back of two seasons where they had won two trophies and then finished as Premier League runners-up under the Special One.
But Mourinho was concerned they would not push on without more fresh signings.
So when he was asked if he was happy with the strength of the squad, he said it was a question he could not answer.
Things went downhill from there.
Solskjaer will remain positive.
But only positive results on the pitch will convince others to share his optimism.
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