- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has installed his faith in youngsters at Manchester United
- Mason Greenwood, Brandon Williams and Tahith Chong have made the leap up
- But Solskjaer has warned his young charges to keep their focus on the pitch
- United host Brighton on Sunday in the final game before the international break
Mason Greenwood (left) has broken through into the first-team squad, as has Brandon Williams
Tahith Chong is another player who has broken through into the Manchester United squad
United slumped to another disappointing defeat on the road last week against Bournemouth
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has warned his young stars not to waste careers with off-the-field antics
Jesse Lingard faced criticism for posting a crude video on Snapchat during the summer break
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants his Manchester United kids to be thrill-seekers on the pitch – and boring off it.
Solskjaer has thrown in several youngsters, including 18-year-old Mason Greenwood and Brandon Williams and Tahith Chong, both 19, as he starts a major rebuild at Old Trafford.
But the Norwegian has warned them to ignore the bright lights and private commercial temptations if they want to follow in the footsteps of the Class of 92 and have successful careers at Old Trafford.
Some members of United’s squad, including Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Scott McTominay, have had their social media presence and business tie-ups questioned, particularly with the team way adrift of rivals Manchester City and Liverpool.
Ahead of Sunday’s home game against Brighton, Solskjaer said: ‘When you’re a footballer, you should be proper boring. You go to bed, rest, recover and get ready for the next game. You can do all the other stuff after your career.
‘In between games from July to the middle of May, football should be your only thought. Then you have a summer holiday to do the other stuff. That’s the way I was – boring. Loads of my team-mates were boring and that’s why we became successful.’
United have qualified for the Europa League knockout stage but are sitting only 14th in the Premier League table after losing at Bournemouth last weekend.
Solskjaer has not singled out individuals but made it clear he will not tolerate anyone who does not dedicate themselves. He is also against players being too active on social media, partly so they can avoid the ‘haters’ that destroy confidence.
‘These are young boys,’ he said. ‘As soon as they realise the focus has to be on football and not other stuff, that’s it. I am using the media now to tell them, “It’s a boring life”.
‘I have told them, “Sorry, you’re a footballer, get used to being bored”. There are more distractions today but you don’t have to read social media, you don’t have to be in it.
‘If you don’t sacrifice, you’re just passing through this club. The most successful ones have made sacrifices and stayed for a long time.’
Sir Alex Ferguson famously had informers at bars and hotels in Manchester so he knew what his players were up to. He once personally ejected a young Ryan Giggs and Lee Sharpe from a house party.
Solskjaer admits social media postings help him keep tabs. ‘Now it’s impossible for them to do something because I get to know!
‘I want these boys to get the most out of their career. It is the best feeling in the world when you are part of a winning Manchester United team. That is what we are working for.’
Lingard was criticised for posting a crude video simulating sex on Snapchat last summer, while McTominay joined Lionel Messi after a handful of United appearances as one of the faces of football video game Pro Evolution Soccer.
Pogba has more than 37million Instagram followers and was very active over the summer when courting Real Madrid.
Of the next generation, Greenwood and Williams are both expected to feature on Sunday.
The United manager does want his players to be flamboyant on the pitch. ‘Of course we are trying to develop a new culture and rebuild a new team,’ said Solskjaer. ‘We want to play attacking football like we did in the 3-0 victory against Partizan Belgrade on Thursday. That was an example of how we want to look.’