Ole Gunnar Solskjaer raged against the Premier League schedule after Manchester United’s win at Everton, claiming: “They set us up to fail.”
United won 3-1 at Goodison Park on Saturday thanks to two goals from Bruno Fernandes and Edinson Cavani’s first for the club, after Bernard had put the Toffees ahead in the first half.
The match kicked off just over 48 hours after the United squad had arrived back in England from Turkey, where they had lost 2-1 to Istanbul Basaksehir in the Champions League.
Solskjaer said on Friday that a request to move the Everton game to a later time had been turned down as he described concerns for the welfare of players during a packed schedule made worse by the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Red Devils manager seemed determined to keep all focus on the “absolute shambles” of the fixture pile-up after beating Carlo Ancelotti’s side, rather than discuss the positives of a performance that will ease some of the pressure on his shoulders.
Indeed, Solskjaer confirmed Luke Shaw suffered a hamstring injury and Marcus Rashford was left struggling towards the end of the match, issues he blamed on the quick turnaround.
“We were set up to fail,” he told BT Sport. “I said to you before, when I talked to you about the kick-off time, it’s set up the boys to fail.
“We got Luke Shaw injured today because we’ve been to Turkey, we’ve played loads of games this season already, and we’ve been to Turkey Wednesday night, [and] come Thursday morning we’re back in, we’re playing Saturday lunchtime kick-off. It’s an absolute shambles and I can’t praise the boys enough for that character they’ve shown.
“That’s all I want to talk about today. Those boys deserve better than being thrown out here to fail today.
“Authorities set us up to fail. How can they set us up, after a Champions League game, Wednesday night, in Turkey, and set us a Saturday 12.30 kick-off?
“You’ve got Liverpool and [Manchester] City – fair play, they play against each other – played on Tuesday and they play on Sunday. Who’s responsible? We’ve had enough of that. I’ve had enough.
“Players, this season, I said it yesterday, you have to understand how these players, in these times, how mentally draining, physically draining this is, and you set them up like this? We’ve lost Luke Shaw because of that.
“Set us up on a Sunday. There’s absolutely no problem, there’s an international break after. No argument whatsoever [about a Sunday match]. It’s just a joke.”
Asked about the performance of Fernandes, who scored twice and set up Cavani’s goal, Solskjaer said: “Brilliant. Absolutely top, fantastic, after Thursday morning coming back. They’re not gonna have the pleasure of seeing us lose again.
“[Cavani] is getting better and better, sharper and sharper, today was just trying to finish the game off, because we did well.”
Solskjaer confirmed Shaw’s injury could be a lengthy one, while he said Mason Greenwood did not travel with the squad after reporting that he felt unwell.