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The former Old Trafford favourite still has faith in the Norwegian head coach despite the Red Devils’ underwhelming start to the new season

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer “does not want to kill Manchester United“, according to Rafael, who has defended the under-fire manager’s cautious approach in the transfer market.

United secured their second-highest finish of the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era in 2019-20, coming third behind Liverpool and Manchester City to qualify for the Champions League.

Solskjaer managed to lure the likes of Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Bruno Fernandes to Old Trafford during his first full year in charge, and received plenty of praise for bringing an attack-minded philosophy back to the club, despite failing to deliver any tangible success in the form of trophies.

Supporters were expecting a fresh recruitment drive when the summer transfer window opened, but the Red Devils have spent £35 million ($45m) to date to bring in just Ajax playmaker Donny van de Beek, and only have seven days left to finalise any further deals.

United opened the 2020-21 campaign with a 3-1 loss at home to Crystal Palace, which increased the mood of frustration surrounding OId Trafford, and an unconvincing 3-2 win at Brighton on Saturday did little to prove that Solskjaer’s current crop are capable of avoiding a fourth successive trophyless season.

Pressure is already beginning to build on Solskjaer amid fruitless pursuits of primary transfer targets, most notably Borussia Dortmund‘s Jadon Sancho, but Rafael believes fans have been too quick to point the finger of blame at the Norwegian head coach.

The former United defender says buying big names for the sake of it won’t guarantee success, and that a more patient approach is more likely to reap long-term rewards.

“Now it is better than before,” Rafael told The Athletic. “But there are still some games where you watch and think, ‘fuc*ing hell — what’s happened?’ Even the first game of the season, you sit and say, ‘fuc*ing hell,’ but it is the first game. If Ferguson, after everything he won, lost the first game of a season, people would talk but not in the same way.

“Now it (the reaction) is all, ‘everything is sh*t, we need to change the coach.’ It is all a bit harsh. It is the first game – relax. Of course, we need to get better. People don’t care if the players only had one pre-season game to prepare. They just say, ‘Ole out, fuc*ing kell, why don’t you buy these players?’

“That’s what I don’t understand. Of course, we need some players but last season, we finished winning nearly every game. The team was growing together. Now, you listen to people and it is as though if we don’t buy players, we will lose every game.

“I want United to be back winning again. I like Ole and the way he works. I am not saying he is the best manager in the world but he is doing his job in a way it used to be done before.

“I know a lot of supporters will not agree with me about this but people need to know that Ole does not want to kill Manchester United. He wants to buy players but in the right way. He does not want to buy just for buying’s sake, like we did for five or six years.”

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September 28, 2020
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