‘He’s upbeat and smiling. Then at the mention of transfers he clams up, feeling powerless and rejected’: Body language expert says Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s press conference today showed a frustrated, helpless manager
- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said he was wrong to suggest he could ‘exploit’ transfers
- United have made one signing – Donny van de Beek from Ajax – all summer
- He admitted the club has ‘lost loads of money’ as he has missed his top targets
- Solskjaer is typically jovial but he showed frustrations in latest press conference
- Rubbing his wedding ring was one of the self-comfort rituals in front of media
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looked like a man brimming with frustration on Friday with just three days left until the end of the summer transfer window.
Donny van de Beek has so far been the only new arrival at Old Trafford and having failed in their pursuit of Jadon Sancho, missed out on Gareth Bale and found getting their top targets difficult, Solskjaer’s upbeat manner was markedly different when facing the media on Friday morning.
Here, Sportsmail has spoken to body language expert JUDI JAMES to get her opinion on the Manchester United boss…
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer cut a frustrated figure when quizzed by media on Friday over signings
Solskjaer frequently used his hands to make his point and lost the smile he typically adopts
Like Boris Johnson, Ole’s preferred style of body language seems to be upbeat and fun. When he is at his most comfortable talking about the game he loves, or even spats with Jose, his brows go up, his eyes widen and his youthful, authentic smile produces a rounding, apple-shape of his upper cheeks.
When he’s asked about buying new players here, though, most of that upbeat stuff wilts away and we can see several signs of discomfort plus some facial movements and gestures that imply rejection and a sense of powerlessness.
The first question about signings prompts an instant reaction of displeasure. He sucks in a breath; performs 4 eye-stutters, or rapid blinks; his eyes go up to the left in a gesture linked to reflective thinking, and his lips clamp and droop at the corners.
The first question on a lack of signing saw him suck in breath and look quite uncomfortable
Donny van de Beek joined in a £40m switch from Ajax and remains the only new signing
His body-shimmer gesture suggests impatience and he performs a dismissive flick of the hand. There are points where his eye movements suggest a penned-in look, going from upper right and left to lower right and left, as though he’s tried every way out of the ‘problem’.
The moment where he brings his left arm up to cover his mouth as he clears his throat isn’t conclusive.
It would normally suggest a cut-off moment, with the hand being brought up to mask genuine feelings, and in fact we can see his eyes darting behind the hand in a way that could hint at it being an evasive moment, but he could in all fairness be following Covid guidelines about coughing, meaning what would normally be an extravagant gesture could just be down to thoughtfulness. He does clear his throat again during the interview, suggesting it was a genuine reaction.
Ole’s responses do become more emphatic and his displays of discomfort more obvious the second time the question comes up. He even fiddles with his wedding ring in a self-comfort ritual and does a mirthless laugh, with a small nose-wrinkle suggesting dislike or disgust.
Solskjaer covered his mouth at one stage during Friday’s press conference but this may have been more Covid-related as a health precaution rather as a defence mechanism
He insisted the club work hard to get deals done but did not show off his usual upbeat manner
United’s pursuit of their No 1 summer target Jadon Sancho has faltered in recent weeks
The way he throws his hands up as he talks about the transfer window suggests powerlessness, as though he’s done as much as he can, and several other non-verbal ‘shrugs’ echo this sentiment.
He brings the hand up again in a barrier gesture and this time it is just scratching the back of his neck to suggest he’s both guarded and possibly feeling baffled of confused. He wriggles around in his seat to hint at increased discomfort.
There is a very tiny cue that could suggest he might still be announcing a new player/s, though.
Despite a volley of shrugs and expressions of what could pass for hopelessness there is one moment (7.47) when his mouth starts to pull into a smile at one corner and we can see a dimple appear on the left side of his mouth to hint that there’s still the possibility of a pleasant surprise to announce, although even here his eyes look downcast and the dimpling could be prompted by the way he’s describing how some of his existing players have started to play well.
There were lots of shrugs from the United boss and a sign of hopelessness on occasion
Pressure is mounting on Ed Woodward over signings as Monday’s deadline moves closer
OLE IS FULL OF FRUSTRATION IN FRIDAY PRESS CONFERENCE
On his ‘exploiting’ the market comment: ‘I think my wording in lockdown “exploit” was a bad word by me.
‘I didn’t mean in that respect. I meant clubs out there have to move because of the situation and it might be a situation for us. At the moment we’ve not had those situations. We’ve lost loads of money as the other clubs have as well.’
On being prepared for deals in the future: ‘We want to be the best at everything, and of course now is a chance to spend more time, you discuss players, discuss plans, we’ve evaluated what we need, of course with the coaching staff we’ve looked at games, evaluated games, discussing on video calls like this.
‘Then, the market, who knows how the market is going to react to this? Who knows which clubs need to sell players?
‘There might be just a situation there where you can exploit, and I know that we at Man United, we are one of the biggest, and financially well off.
‘I’m sure we are capable, when we get back to normality, that we can do the business that we want to.’
On potential last-minute deals: ‘I’m not going to go into the transfer window now because of course my focus is on Sunday’s game (against Tottenham) but the club’s always working hard to have the strongest possible squad,’ he said.
‘If something happens in or out you’ll get to know.
‘We’ve got players here that we believe in. The transfer window is still open for a little while and the club has been working. They know my view and we’re here to strengthen in the long term.’
On criticism from former team-mates and fans: ‘Pat, Rio, Gary, Fletch have always been welcome here to talk to me. They’re allowed to do their jobs. We all want Man United as high as possible, it’s my job and that’s what I’m working with.
‘We’ve got players here we believe in. The transfer window is still open for a little while and the club has been working and know my view. We’re here to strengthen in the long-term as well.
‘We need to get results and how we get results on the pitch there are many, many ways to improve the team. We’re working here inside the four walls and on the pitch to get better.
‘I keep reading about players that should be playing instead of ones that are playing and that tells me I’ve got a strong squad. We need to get fit and keep injury free but there is more competition for places.
‘I think it’s a different scenario now. I’ve seen many other of the other players who didn’t play too well the other season play really well.’