Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer provided an injury update Tuesday morning ahead of his side’s crucial Premier League clash against Tottenham Hotspur, and it looks like the Red Devils will be without a crucial member of their midfield unit.
According to the boss, attacking midfielder Paul Pogba, who many thought would be ready by the December 4 contest, will not suit up after all.
“No. Paul’s not ready, no,” Solskjaer confirmed to reporters. “
So, he’s still a bit away, but he’s working hard, so let’s see.
“He’s out [training] on the grass, so let’s see how long it will take.”
The Frenchman has been nursing an ankle injury since September, and his absence has been sorely felt with each passing match where he doesn’t perform. However, the boss did add United could still get an injury boost in the midfield with the return of Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matić.
“You know I don’t want to talk about these injuries we’ve had, but of course when you get Scott back, when you get Paul back… we have been light in midfield because we had Scott and Nemanja and Paul out for such a long time and that’s affected us.
“[Scott and Nemanja] are touch-and-go, so let’s get this [today’s] training session out of the way. We’ve got more games than this one, so I can’t just look at one game. We’ve got to look at the long term.”
Wednesday Will Be a Homecoming of Sorts for Jose Mourinho
The stakes are particularly high for Solskjaer, as the Norwegian will be facing his predecessor Jose Mourinho for the first time as Premier League competitors. Mourinho was sacked by United last December and after a 10-month unemployment stint, was appointed Tottenham’s manager until the conclusion of the 2022/2023 campaign, replacing longtime boss Mauricio Pochettino.
Seeing as this will mark the first time since his exit that he’ll be returning to Old Trafford as manager, Mourinho would love nothing more to secure three point against the club that fired him and the man who replaced him. In his own pre-match interview, Mourinho was delighted about the challenge, even adding that he’ll take some time to visit some old friends he made during his two-year tenure in Manchester.
“Going back to Old Trafford is to go back to a place where I was happy. I can say that,” the Special One said Tuesday. “I have a great relation with the United supporters. I went back as a pundit, which is a different perspective. I was really humbled by such a beautiful reception.
“Tomorrow I go back as the coach of the team that is going is try to beat Manchester United and that maybe gives a different perspective. I expect this respect that they always show towards me, but I understand what they want is exactly the opposite of what I want.
“I want Tottenham to win, they want Manchester United to win. During the match I expect them to forget me and I expect them to support their team to get the result they want.”
Could Man United Creep into the Top Four by the End of the Year?
For the last two weeks, Manchester United have missed chances to inch closer to a top-four spot in the domestic table due to draws against Sheffield United and Aston Villa. With the Manchester derby this weekend, losses against two Big Six sides could weaken their chances even more, and Solskjaer could find himself out as permanent manager.
When the former United midfielder took over as caretaker manager last December, United experienced a successful run of wins. Since being named permanent manager in March, those victories have come to a screeching halt.
With Pochettino suddenly available and United in need of heavy restoration, it places an immense amount of pressure on Solskjaer to not only walk away from Wednesday’s match three points happier, but also devise a plan for the looming January transfer window.