Belfast Telegraph

New signings all have what it takes to help take United up to the next level, insists Solskjaer

Confident: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says United squad is getting stronger
Confident: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says United squad is getting stronger

By Simon Peach

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Manchester United will be better off without Romelu Lukaku as the manager approaches the season with positivity amid a backdrop of discontent.

Frank Lampard's Chelsea arrive at Old Trafford tomorrow as the Premier League season gets under way on the back of some promising performances and impressive training work during pre-season.

But things away from the pitch have not been so rosy, with fan disillusionment fuelled by a perceived lack of improvements in the transfer market.

Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James all look impressive acquisitions, but Ander Herrera, Antonio Valencia and Lukaku have left on the back of Marouane Fellaini's January departure.

"I think when the transfer window closes it's that great feeling of relief," Solskjaer said yesterday, the day after it shut. "Now it's done now, we know (who) we're looking forward with and I'm delighted with the three we've signed.

"Well (frustration) is not the feeling inside the club anyway and the feeling with the fans I've met, they are excited with the ones we've had. Of course, there is always going to be fans out there wanting to sign players. That's just part and parcel of being here.

"The players are here now, they've been shown that trust and we believe in them."

Teenager Mason Greenwood is among those that Solskjaer will put faith in this season - and is part of the reason why he was happy to let Lukaku leave.

The 26-year-old's inevitable exit to Inter Milan became rather unsavoury as he started the week training with boyhood club Anderlecht, but an 80 million euros (£73.75million) deal was sealed on Thursday.

"It was time now for Rom to go because I think we got a good deal, he's happy, so I think both parties ended that deal as it should be," Solskjaer said. "Rom was injured for a while this pre-season, he didn't participate, so I just hope for him that he'll get a good start at Inter Milan."

Pulled up on the fact that he had last month said any further sales would be replaced, Solskjaer said: "Towards the end of last season, we didn't score a lot of goals, did we? And you do have players that you think will have an impact and Mason Greenwood's pathway would have been a lot more difficult, of course, if we had another forward there.

"For me, I believe Mason is going to be playing and involved a lot and when he is, he'll score goals."

It is a fair amount of pressure on a 17-year-old, who will be involved in some capacity against Chelsea - a Premier League opener that, for some, comes without the normal buzz and excitement due to frustrations about how the club operates.

"Of course, we want to put that right - and the only way we can put any doubts and that (right) is by playing good football," Solskjaer said when asked about the cloud heading into the new season. "That's showing the team we want to be, the style of football we want to play. Our fans, when they see that intention, they've always been supporting the team.

"But, as I said earlier on, within the team and the club, we are feeling very confident and we don't feel that negativity you're talking about."

One clear positive has been the way Paul Pogba knuckled down in pre-season after publicly expressing his openness to a new challenge elsewhere.

"(His attitude is) always the same," Solskjaer said. "He's been great. I've always said every time I've been asked about Paul, I keep saying the same things. When he comes, when he plays, when he trains, he's absolutely fantastic."

Pogba is fit to start tomorrow's Premier League opener after missing the final pre-season friendly against AC Milan due to a back spasm.

Meanwhile, Lampard says David Luiz did not go on strike and was not ostracised before his surprise departure to London rivals Arsenal. Brazilian defender Luiz missed a day's training with the Blues before completing a deadline-day move to Unai Emery's Gunners for a reported £8million.

The 32-year-old spent six-and-a-half seasons across two spells with the Blues, winning six major trophies, including the Premier League and Champions League.

Lampard said the deal was done on amicable terms.

"We had some conversations over the last week, honest conversations because I know David well. And I think the conclusion of that was that he moved on," said Lampard. "There certainly wasn't any strikes. And in terms of fall-outs, no, there weren't. There were honest conversations.

"As a player, I always respected honesty from a manager whatever the news.

"And I think I got that back from David hence why he ends up moving on to Arsenal."

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