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Solskjaer insists Norway break was no Ole-day as under-pressure Man Utd boss aims to stop the rot at Watford

IF OLE GUNNAR SOLSKJAER thought he was going to get away from it all with his short break to Norway, he was wrong. The trials and tribulations of the Premier League’s most under pressure manager followed him back to Molde, where life must have seemed much simpler when he was in charge there. Accompanied by […] ...

IF OLE GUNNAR SOLSKJAER thought he was going to get away from it all with his short break to Norway, he was wrong.

The trials and tribulations of the Premier League’s most under pressure manager followed him back to Molde, where life must have seemed much simpler when he was in charge there.

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants to see his side on the front foot against Watford[/caption]

Accompanied by his wife and two sons, the idea was to freshen up for the battle ahead. It is doubtful how relaxing it must have been as Solskjaer analysed United’s troubled run.

He kept in touch with the coaching staff left behind, studied the players on TV while they were on international duty and went through the stats and footage from United’s humiliating home defeats to Liverpool and Manchester City.

Solskjaer said: “No, you can’t break off. You never do. You live and breathe football.

“You switch your phone off for a few hours and spend time with your family but you watch your players on the international stage. You analyse your own games, which we’ve gone through in detail.

“The technology helps so we can still keep in touch if we’re not in the same room or on the same continent so we’ve worked hard on a few priorities.

“The staff are incredible 24-7, they work to improve the state of the team and when we came back on Monday everyone was ready to have a good week.”

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While he was not Home Alone, it can’t have been popcorn in front of a feel-good movie as he dragged himself back through the carnage of back-to-back home defeats against Liverpool and Manchester City.

It was clear what they had to work on when he came back ahead of today’s trip to face Watford at Vicarage Road.

Solskjaer said: “We’ve gone games where we’ve conceded chances, we can’t concede easy chances against any team.

“We’re playing against a Watford team who are well organised, very good at counter-attacking and very good at set plays and focusing on this game you’ve got to make sure your defending is right.

“That’s probably the dark side of the football that you know you have to work on and we have put a lot of things right and the patterns, the timings, the relationships on the pitch, when we’ve got the ball as well.

“It’s looked really good in training and now we need to transfer that to the game.”

Much has been made of the system Solskjaer switches between, most recently with three at the back.

The manager believes it is simpler than all that, and about an attitude to play the United way no matter what pattern you set out in.

He said: “The system is one thing; style is so much more important, that is on the front foot, passing forward, running forward, pressing high or dropping low so that you block off the goal.

“You can have the same style of play with different systems or formations it’s the execution on how you approach the game and how we set about that style of play.

“Sometimes Man United has been with wide wingers, we’ve had center-forwards up there that have been targets for crosses, sometimes you have targets into feet, the main thing about it is that it’s an attacking way of playing football that we give the players a chance to express their talents within the framework that we play in and that we set.

“If that’s 3-5-2, 3-5-3, 4-4-2, 4-2-3-1 it doesn’t really matter it’s the detail and strategy we give for every game.

“We have worked the last few years on two different ways of how we set up, with a back three in the last two games and the majority of games have been 4-2-3-1 that we’ve had but we’ve had to make some minor adjustments in the last few weeks because some players are in form, out of form or injured or suspended.

“I always want to see a Man United team going on to the pitch trying to dominate.

“I don’t want to see my team hanging in there waiting, we’d rather be on the front foot and if a team is better than us then sometimes you have to accept that.”

Solskjaer says the players need to take strength from a record away run of form in the Premier League of 29 games that ended with a 4-2 defeat at Leicester last month as they face life on the road in these next nine days.

He said: “Last season we turned it around and went on a run of 20 odd games and that’s the kind of run we need to get back.

“We lost to Leicester, but the unbeaten record before that is something we need to draw confidence from.

“Form and performances haven’t been good enough. We can do better, should do better and it’s down to performances on the day.”

Raphael Varane and Paul Pogba remain out with injuries although Pogba would have been suspended in any case. Luke Shaw missed the England games as he followed concussion protocols but is expected to be back.

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