Former Manchester United head coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has claimed that he previously begged the English club to sign Erling Haaland. Solskjaer formerly managed the superstar striker during their time together at Molde from 2017 to 2019. The Red Devils, however, rejected the coach’s recommendation and opted not to target the reigning UEFA Men’s Player of the Year.

Solskjaer made the comments during a recent appearance on the Stick to Football podcast. “I had him [Haaland] in Molde, for two seasons,” said the coach. “The summer before I got here, I rang the club and said, ‘You’ve got to sign this boy. He’ll be top class.'”

“That was June, July 2018, and they said no. They had enough reports on players. Then I became the caretaker manager [at Molde], and we’d sold Haaland to RB Salzburg.”

“I tell the club straight away to buy him while he has a release clause. We knew that then, and no one else would’ve paid the money – €20 million (just over $21 million), it would’ve been a bargain.”

Haaland has essentially been a smash hit at every club he has played for. After departing Molde, the striker scored 29 goals in just 27 total games with Salzburg. He then managed to rack up 86 goals in 89 matches with Borussia Dortmund before making the major move to Manchester City in 2022.

Erling Haaland omission at United compounded player issues

Along with the news regarding the club’s failure to sign Haaland, Solskjaer went on to claim that some players rejected the chance to captain United while he was at the helm. The former forward coached the Premier League club from 2018 to 2021.

“No one said ‘no’ to being the club captain, it was just for certain games,” continued the coach. However, Solskjaer was then asked directly if players actually said, ‘I don’t want to be captain for this match.’

“Yes,” replied the Norwegian. “But they didn’t want to say it themselves, they had other people come up to me and say it.”

“It was disappointing. It’s a different generation, it’s Gen Z. It’s petty and shows a lack of ambition.”

Defender Ashley Young was the club captain during Solskjaer’s first full season as head coach of United. Nevertheless, Harry Maguire quickly took over after the full-back departed the team for Inter Milan in January 2020.

Bruno Fernandes and Nemanja Matic typically filled in for Maguire when he was absent from the squad throughout the 2020/21 campaign. Paul Pogba and Juan Mata, however, also captained the club once each during this particular season.

Several United stars also avoided questions from the press

Several United players, according to Solskjaer, also feared facing the media during postgame interviews. While he felt that he could rely on Maguire and Fernandes for these duties, the coach claims that other players were “worried about the questions.”

“Many players said no to doing the pre-match interviews, the three questions,” continued Solskjaer. “You had the go-tos, Bruno [Fernandes] always did it, Harry [Maguire] always did it, Victor [Lindelof] did it, David [De Gea] did it, Luke Shaw did it. The others were worried about the questions, so preferred not to do it.”

“You’re scared of the whole reaction maybe, but you also understand some of the players’ mental health.”

The admissions by Solskjaer will certainly be eye-opening for many fans. Not only was the coach correct in his assessment of Haaland, but his comments regarding the players at United are concerning. The Red Devils have struggled in recent years, and it seems as if select players do not want to be in the spotlight. United, however, is one of the biggest clubs in the world and will always receive plenty of attention.