London (AFP) – A defiant Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says he relishes criticism as Manchester United prepare for Tuesday’s Champions League match against Atalanta following their vital Premier League victory at Tottenham.
The Norwegian faced intense speculation over his future after United’s 5-0 humiliation against arch-rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford last week left them well off the pace in the English top-flight.
But the Red Devils eased the pressure on their manager with Saturday’s 3-0 win in London and it was Spurs boss Nuno Espirito Santo who instead lost his job on Monday.
Former players, pundits and fans have questioned Solskjaer’s tactics, team selections and ability to succeed at the highest level, with the former United forward yet to win a trophy in nearly three years at the club.
But his decision at Spurs to pair Cristiano Ronaldo with Edinson Cavani up front and use a three-man central defence bore fruit as Ronaldo scored and provided an assist for the Uruguayan and the home side failed to register a shot on target.
“Criticism can make you doubt yourself, or you can stand up for yourself. I’ve always enjoyed criticism — just keep that coming,” Solskjaer said in his pre-match press conference on Monday.
“Journalists, pundits, experts — we’ve all got different jobs. I’m not here to fight with them, I don’t need a spat with anyone.”
The Red Devils top Group F with two wins and one defeat from three games but have not convinced in Europe.
They suffered a shock defeat at Swiss side Young Boys in their opening fixture and needed late goals from Ronaldo to take them to wins against Villarreal and Atalanta.
Gian Piero Gasperini’s team led 2-0 at Old Trafford and had chances to put the game beyond United in last month’s reverse fixture before the hosts launched their comeback.
Solskjaer admitted one good game would not silence United’s doubters and challenged his team to prove in Italy that they could perform consistently.
“We’ve been working to get that consistency,” he said.
“One swallow doesn’t make a summer. It’s a chance to prove we can go again.”
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