Soccer-Solskjaer hits out at 'lies', says players together in the trenches

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FILE PHOTO: Premier League - Manchester United v Liverpool
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By Simon Evans

MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) -Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has backed midfielder Paul Pogba's decision to publicly denounce a media report as "fake news" and vowed to fight back from the difficult position he has found himself in.

Solskjaer came under intense criticism after United's shocking 5-0 home defeat by Liverpool nL1N2RK0D3 on Sunday but ahead of Saturday's trip to Tottenham Hotspur the Norwegian was in bullish mood.

Pogba had posted a response to a tabloid media report that said he had "snubbed" Solskjaer and stopped talks over a possible new contract with the club, labelling it "fake news" and commenting: "Big lies to make headlines".

"We expect to be criticised because, hands up, the performance wasn't good enough, you expect to hear it from right, left and centre, but we don't expect or can't accept when lies are being made up," said Solskjaer.

"Paul came to me and told me what he has put out on his social media account and ... when it is blatant lies we have got to stand up and say so," added the Norwegian.

"All the opinions and reports, fine but don't make up lies about players or me," he said.

The United boss has received a timely boost on the injury front with French defender Raphael Varane fit again after missing the last two games due to a thigh injury picked up on international duty.

The only player who is not available for the trip to Spurs is Pogba who is suspended after his red card against Liverpool.

Solskjaer confirmed he had met with former manager Alex Ferguson during the week after the 13-times Premier League champions attended a commercial event at the club's training ground.

"I met him and spoke to him, just for a brief moment. I've been through some very bad moments here as a player and when I've been a coach and a manager as well," he said.

"I've had to deal with setbacks, there's probably been two or three crises at least since I became the manager here. One thing I can say is that I'll always give it a good shot and fight back."

THE TRENCHES

Solskjaer added he had a good week at the training ground with the players as they seek to put right the errors which cost them so dearly against Liverpool and he suggested that reports of dressing room divisions were wide of the mark.

"When you come in for criticism, like you do, you come into the trenches with your team mates and that reaction I've seen this week. Whatever this club has been through before, it's always about getting through with courage, self-belief, sticking together, he said.

"We've had a good week, a good week on the training field, I have to say that.

"We need a reaction and it's my job as well to put the players in the right frame of mind, I'm responsible for the reaction, the result, the performance. We've worked on the pitch, we've worked on everything that needs to be sorted for a footballer.

"It's not just frame of mind, it's the approach, strategy, gameplan, tactics, technically. We've had a good week and I feel the boys are ready to give their best, as they always do. Of course, nothing went to plan (against Liverpool) and that was nowhere near our best," he said.

United are seventh in the table, eight points adrift of Chelsea and trailing second-placed Liverpool by seven points. They are one place and one point behind Spurs after nine games.

(Reporting by Simon Evans, Editing by Ken Ferris and Christian Radnedge)

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