Ole Gunnar Solskjær claimed Manchester United were “set up to fail” against Everton in a furious outburst at the Premier League’s refusal to reschedule the early kick‑off at Goodison Park.
United eased the pressure on their manager with a club record-equalling seventh successive Premier League away win, but Solskjær was in no mood to rejoice. He remained incandescent at the decision to kick‑off at 12.30pm on a Saturday following the Champions League trip to Istanbul on Wednesday and the denial of United’s request to switch the game to Sunday before the international break.
Injuries to Marcus Rashford (shoulder), Luke Shaw (hamstring) and Victor Lindelöf (back), which Solskjær linked directly to the fixture schedule, compounded his problems.
“They set up the boys to fail,” said Solskjær, who saw Bruno Fernandes score twice and set up Edinson Cavani’s first goal for the club in the 3-1 win. “We have got Luke Shaw injured because we have played loads of games this season already, been to Turkey on Wednesday, got back at 4am on Thursday and we are playing a lunchtime kick-off on Saturday.
“It is an absolute shambles and I cannot praise the boys enough for the character they have shown. That is all I want to talk about. Those boys deserve better than being thrown out here to fail today. The authorities set us up to fail.”
Solskjær maintained his attack on the fixture schedule even when invited to discuss a deserved and much-needed victory. “How can you expect players to perform to the best of their ability when you send them out at 12.30pm? Absolute joke.
“A month ago we tried to move this game. What sense is there for us to play on a Saturday when we could play on the Sunday and there is an international break coming up?
“I can’t say enough how hard these times are for everyone, not just footballers, and we want to see football with quality. I pushed my club to really fight the kick-off time on this one to give us at least half a chance, but it was quashed.
“Hopefully the injuries are not too serious but they [Shaw and Rashford] looked in a bad way towards the end.
“When it is a serious injury it is not worth the points, but we got the three points and the boys were not going to give anyone the chance to take them off us as they were so determined.
“I don’t really want to lighten the mood. It is such a serious issue. Players are not robots, they are human beings, and the authorities need to take a step back and think twice about the times we are living in. We have had far too many injuries this season and I’m not just talking about my team.”
Carlo Ancelotti’s anger was directed at the poor defending that led to Everton’s third consecutive league defeat – the first time he has overseen such a sequence since November 2006 with Milan. The early leaders of the Premier League have taken one point from their past four matches and have not kept a clean sheet in the league since the opening-day victory at Tottenham.
“It was not a good performance in one aspect – defensively,” he said. “After we scored we were not able to defend properly, we were not compact, and we gave them the opportunity to score two goals easily.
“The problem is clear and we have to solve it. This period has been really bad.”