Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Paul Pogba will be at Manchester United next season.
Speculation about the midfielder’s future has increased again following United’s derby loss to Manchester City on Wednesday, with Real Madrid strongly linked with a move for the World Cup winner.
But at his press conference ahead of Sunday’s clash with Chelsea, Solskjaer said: “You can’t guarantee anything in football but yes, I think Paul is going to be here. I can assure you he is very determined to succeed at Manchester United.”
Eyebrows were raised when Pogba was the only non-Liverpool or Manchester City player to be named in the PFA team of the season this week given his erratic form for United.
Solskjaer defended the 26-year-old, saying: “That’s just the standards he’s set. When he’s creating chances, scoring goals, doing loads of work – media, supporters, it’s everyone who looks to Paul. Could he have done better?
“Paul’s done fantastic for us. He’s human. We’re all the same that we want him to do well. He’s a leader in that dressing room and on the pitch for us. He will be here as far as I can answer that.”
Pogba was cited as a disruptive influence in the dressing room during Jose Mourinho’s tenure, and the same reports are beginning to surface under Solskjaer.
The Norwegian said: “The world has changed so you don’t have a Robbo (Bryan Robson), a Roy Keane or a Steve Bruce in our dressing room.
“Society is different, and we are all different in the way we lead. I don’t lead the way Sir Alex did, (Louis) Van Gaal, Mourinho.”
Solskjaer, meanwhile, will not be resting David De Gea after the keeper’s latest blunder for City’s second goal.
Former United keeper Gary Bailey wrote on Twitter on Thursday that Sergio Romero should be given a run to allow De Gea to rediscover his form, but Solskjaer disagrees.
“No, not at all,” he said. “Because I trust David. He’s, for me, been the best player United have had for the last six, seven years.
“He’s been absolutely outstanding. Going through tough patches is just part of a footballer’s career. David will be fine, no worries.”
De Gea’s future has been the subject of intense speculation for a number of years, and his contract runs out at the end of next season, but Solskjaer does not think that is a factor.
“That’s something you have to deal with as a footballer,” he said. “You don’t always have a contract for five or 10 years. I think David’s coming in every single day doing what he should be doing.”
United go into Sunday’s clash three points behind Chelsea in the race for Champions League qualification and with the need for a turnaround in form becoming ever more desperate.
The end of Solskjaer’s honeymoon period has now seen seven defeats from the last nine matches, but he believes the results are a reflection of United’s overall level rather than a sudden dip.
“The total points is 70 in average for the last five seasons, we’re now on 64, so that’s where we’re at, that is the reality that we are in now, where we’ve been in the last five seasons and that’s not good enough,” he said.
“That’s not down to the last six seven or eight games, that’s where we are at the moment and we have a great challenge ahead of us to get us up challenging again.”
Marcus Rashford was critical of the players’ mentality and work-rate on Wednesday, but Solskjaer said: “You could see on Wednesday night there’s a team that wants to play for each other and be there for each other.
“Rashy’s really hurt by losing the derby, we all are, but the eye opener was the Everton one. The last 10 days have been hard for everyone and you sometimes might come out emotional in an interview.
“But we know for this club to be successful we have to stick together 24/7 and your standards have to be at that level what we are doing for our team-mates.”