Ole Gunnar Solskjær denied the clock is ticking on his tenure as Manchester United manager after the 2-0 dismantling by Manchester City at Old Trafford, which followed Liverpool’s 5-0 rout of his side in their previous home game.
An early Eric Bailly own goal and a second from Bernardo Silva just before half-time consigned United to a fourth defeat from 11 Premier League matches, prompting questions whether Solskjær felt like he is living on borrowed time.
“No. I don’t start to feel that,” he said. “I am in good communication with the club. As long as I am here I want to do what I can do to improve this, I want the best for Manchester United. We have been through this a few times [in his three years in charge].
“Since the last game we played here it has been a very difficult period and we have gone away from what we used to be, won at Tottenham with a different system. But, systems or style, we still need to be on the front foot more. I can’t look at myself and say this is how I want Man Utd to play.”
Solskjær did concede the past two home losses were a brutal realisation how far United are from being an elite team.
“We started to look a proper team at the end of last season and we have to get back to that,” he said. “We had a couple of good results before this – Atalanta and Tottenham – and today was a big step back.
“We still don’t trust ourselves with the ball and we don’t find the angles and sometimes that is also the team you play against. We sometimes made the wrong solutions, sometimes the right solution but the wrong execution.
“It is very disappointing and it feels like after last week we have made a step or two forwards results-wise and then a big step backwards. It is a way of losing we don’t like. When you lose a game against a good team you want to see a better Man Utd team than that.”
The win at Spurs is United’s only league victory in five weeks. “We have had a difficult spell,” Solskjær said. “The result against Tottenham was good but it was not what we want to look like. We want to be on the front foot, to be more aggressive.”
The 48-year-old believes the international fortnight is arriving at the right time. “When you lose a game of football there is no worse feeling,” he said. “For us it is all about Watford. We have to come out against Watford like a hurt animal. The short answer is it has come at a good time for us.”
City now have 23 points. A delighted Pep Guardiola said: “There is more to come. The city is blue and we know how important that is. It was a solid performance and a deserved victory. Apart from a few minutes in the second half when we lost some stupid balls, we were really good. So, no disappointment. I am so demanding. I know our standards. I am very pleased.
“This is the game we needed to play because if you attack quickly against United and you lose the ball then you will be attacked even quicker.”
Guardiola was asked about Solskjær’s pre-match claim that United are Manchester’s biggest club. “For our fans City is the best club in Manchester and for red fans United,” he said. “Only we can say we have done really well, winning a lot of titles and being there all the time.”