Ex-Man Utd boss Solskjaer reveals he was told he ‘couldn’t buy’ five stars; claims players ‘turned down’ captaincy

Joe Williams
Former Man Utd boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wanted to bring Erling Haaland to Old Trafford.

Former Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer claims he was told he “couldn’t buy the players” that he “mentioned to the club” as possible targets.

The Red Devils spent around £400m on new signings during Solskjaer’s three years as manager at Old Trafford with very few hits.

Bruno Fernandes was by far and away the best signing the club made during the Norwegian’s time at the club, while Raphael Varane and Aaron Wan-Bissaka are still getting a game under Erik ten Hag.

Harry Maguire, Jadon Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo were among Solskjaer’s other high-profile transfers but the former Man Utd boss insists it was hard to get the players he wanted.

When asked if the Man Utd job is impossible, Solskjaer told The Athletic: “No, but it’s difficult, especially for managers following one of the best managers ever. The expectations are very high but we can’t live in the same era as when I played. We had Arsenal and Chelsea as rivals towards the end. Now, most teams have money or even if they don’t, they don’t need to sell.

“Back then, Wayne and Cristiano were the best young players and we signed them. Now, United can’t just go and buy Evan Ferguson. We couldn’t buy the players I mentioned to the club.”

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Pushed on which players, Solskjaer added: “Erling Haaland, before he made his Salzburg debut. Declan Rice, who wouldn’t have cost what he did in the summer. We discussed Moises Caicedo, but we felt we needed players ready for there and then. Brighton are very good at letting players come from abroad and find their feet for a year and a half. At United, you don’t have that luxury and that has cost the club loads of players.

“We wanted Jude Bellingham badly — he’s a Man United player, but I respect he chose Dortmund. That was probably sensible. But it’s why I respect Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Dan James and Jadon. Young players prepared to come into a team that wasn’t 100 per cent there like it was when I arrived.

“I would have signed Kane every day of the week and my understanding was that he wanted to come. But the club didn’t have the budget with the financial constraints from Covid-19, there was no bottomless pit.”

Solskjaer had a promising first couple of seasons as Man Utd boss before a big dip in performances at the beginning of the 2021/22 season cost him his job.

When asked if he felt his players had thrown him under the bus, Solskjaer replied: “No. Not really. Some weren’t as good as their own perception of themselves. I won’t name names, but I was very disappointed when a couple turned down the chance to be captain. I was also disappointed when others said they wouldn’t play or train because they wanted to force their way out.

“There was stuff in the media after I left about how I treated some players, which were complete lies, but I had a solid, honest relationship with most of them.”