Ole Gunnar Solskjaer appeared to make an example of former Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku as he leapt to the defence of Paul Pogba.
Midfielder Pogba seems destined to leave Old Trafford after his agent, Mino Raiola, declared he is “unhappy” and would like to join a new club as soon as possible.
Nonetheless, Solskjaer insists he cannot fault the Frenchman’s continued efforts to force his way into the first team despite a recurring ankle injury last season and contracting coronavirus in August.
The United boss could not say the same of Lukaku, who fell out of favour and went on to push for a transfer away from the Red Devils last year.
Lukaku went on to join Inter Milan in a £74million deal and Solskjaer seemed to reference the Belgian in his defence of Pogba.
“I think I said during the week that this is a team game and Paul is part of this team,” Solskjaer told reporters as he previewed the Manchester derby. “He’s very focused on contributing when he’s here.
Manchester United are looking to plot their path back to the top.
And you can keep track of their journey by signing up for the brilliant new Mirror Football newsletter!
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may have missed out on Jadon Sancho in the summer, but he still made some big moves in the transfer market with Donny van de Beek, Alex Telles and Edinson Cavani all arriving.
But their start to the season has been a mixed bag, with a home defeat to Crystal Palace and a 6-1 thrashing by Spurs at one end of the scale, and a tremendous 2-1 win over PSG in Paris at the other.
The question now is whether they can find the right balance?
From the latest news to the agenda-setting stories, get it all in your email inbox.
Signing up is simple. Put your email at the top of this article or follow the instructions on this link.
“He’s got the hunger and appetite to play and wants to play. He wants to train and he trains.
“There have been other players refusing to train and refusing to play – they’re not here anymore of course – but Paul’s not once done that.
“He’s just focused on performing when he gets a chance. That’s the good thing about Paul.
“He’s got the quality and the desire to do well when he comes on, like he did against Leipzig.
“He had a positive impact. The short answer is he’s part of the squad for tomorrow.”
United travel to local rivals Manchester City in Saturday’s evening game as they look to bounce back from their elimination from the Champions League by RB Leipzig earlier this week.
*Should Man Utd sell Pogba in January? Have your say below.
Sign up to the Mirror Football email here for the latest news and transfer gossip.