Given he is one of football’s most positive managers, both on and off the pitch, you would naturally expect Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to put himself in life’s ‘glass half-full’ camp.
But even the Manchester United boss admitted his optimism is stretched when he assesses Harry Maguire‘s prospects of playing in the Europa League final on Wednesday night.
So much so that he compared himself to hapless movie character Lloyd Christmas who, when told he had ‘a one-in-a-million chance’ of having a relationship with a woman he had fallen for, only seized upon the last word in that phrase.
Speaking to Sunday newspaper journalists on Friday, Ole quipped:
“I’m like Jim Carrey in Dumb And Dumber, when he said ‘You’re telling me there is a chance?’
“We still hope for Harry, we’re going to give him as much time as possible, but the hope is getting slimmer.”
Maguire’s most recent appearance was on 9 May, away to Aston Villa.
Solskjaer conceded it would be a concern if his skipper isn’t fit enough for the showpiece clash with Villarreal. Maguire had barely missed a minute of match action before suffering ankle ligament damage in the recent Premier League victory over Aston Villa.
“Oh, it’s a blow, definitely, when your captain, your ever-present captain, your leader is out,”
admitted Ole, before describing Harry as a highly effective figure in both boxes.
“Harry defends ours and he creates chances for us [in theirs]. He hasn’t scored enough goals yet but he’s always a threat. So that’s a big blow [if he’s out]. And he’s a vocal leader, he organises everyone. But he’s still in and around the dressing room, he’s doing everything he can to help the players.”
Another manager who will monitor Maguire’s progress with great interest is Gareth Southgate, whose England side play their first game of this summer’s European Championship on 13 June. The squad for the tournament is set to be announced soon and it will be intriguing to see how many Reds make the cut, with Mason Greenwood among those who could be selected.
“I want my players to have good experiences and if Gareth thinks Mason is worthy of a place, of course I’m happy for him to go, definitely,”
replied Ole, when asked about his young striker.
“Mason has really developed and improved throughout the season and has learned a lot. Would I be surprised if he gets picked? Probably not because I see him day in, day out and I see the boy’s qualities. But as I’ve said, that’s Gareth’s decision.”