Arsene Wenger defended former Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho
Mourinho was sacked by United in December and lost the faith of midfielder Paul Pogba
Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has jumped to the defence of Jose Mourinho and warned Manchester United caretaker boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer that ‘the statistics can sometimes lie’.
Mourinho was sacked by United in December having lost the faith of several players including Paul Pogba, with Solskjaer taking over and winning ten of his first eleven games in charge, drawing the other.
Wenger, however, stated that ‘the honeymoon stops at some point’, indicating that Solskjaer’s excellent run will not last forever.
Wenger commented that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s honeymoon period will not last forever
While Pogba lost his place in the side under Mourinho, the Frenchman has been performing excellently under Solskjaer, with Wenger suggesting that the midfielder’s lack of discipline meant that he struggled under Mourinho’s demands.
Speaking on beIN SPORTS ahead of United’s Champions League clash against Paris Saint-Germain, Wenger said: ‘Mourinho has proven he’s a great manager but Mourinho has always gone for discipline for everyone and in this team I believe Pogba is a fantastic football player but sometimes he lacks discipline. But you have Matic and Herrera now who work for him so now he can express his talent.
‘Mourinho wanted discipline from everyone and that is defendable as well and so that’s maybe (why) Pogba, as we have seen in recent games, has performed well.’
Wenger indicated that Solskjaer had an element of fortune in having a kind fixture list upon his appointment, with his first five games in charge having been against Cardiff, Huddersfield, Bournemouth, Newcastle and Reading.
Pogba has impressed under Solskjaer but Wenger defender Mourinho over the midfielder
Wenger said: ‘The statistics can sometimes lie. Why? because Rashford played more on the wings with Mourinho and he played through the middle now with Solskjaer and so has more chances to score goals.
‘The second thing is I must say, when Mourinho left, Man United had five games that were all winnable. And every win makes you stronger and that’s what Solskjaer has done as well, he’s got young players in.
‘What Manchester United is now to me are a counter attacking team with very mobile players and one player in the middle like Pogba who can create the first difference.
‘So it will be interesting tonight to see that… This is what you call in a marriage: honeymoon. And the honeymoon stops at some point and then you have to come back to reality… maybe you are lucky and you have a longer honeymoon than everybody else.’
Solskjaer wants the United job on a full-time basis but has some tough tests ahead
MANCHESTER UNITED’S NEXT FIVE GAMES
Monday – Chelsea (away) – FA Cup
February 24 – Liverpool (home) – Premier League
February 27 – Crystal Palace (away) – Premier League
March 2 – Southampton (home) – Premier League
March 6 – Paris Saint-Germain (away) – Champions League
Solskjaer has certainly transformed the mood around United, who are playing with confidence and flair; something that certainly wasn’t the case in the latter stages of Mourinho’s regime.
There are many tough tasks ahead for Solskjaer before the end of the season, though, as he looks to guide United to a top four finish in the Premier League and also enjoy lengthy runs in the Champions League and the FA Cup.
United are currently in fourth place in the Premier League and face Chelsea in the fifth round of the FA Cup.
Solskjaer is eager to get the United job on a full-time basis in the summer, although Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino has also been linked with the position.