Solskjær says United’s youth will help with 48-hour turnaround
Team that beat Newcastle had an average age of just 23 and now face Burnley on Saturday
Manchester United’s Mason Greenwood celebrates scoring his side’s second goal of the game during the Premier League win over Newcastle. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire
Ole Gunnar Solskjær believes Manchester United’s youthfulness gives them a better chance of recovery than Burnley when the teams meet just 48 hours after playing on Boxing Day.
United beat Newcastle 4-1 at Old Trafford while the Clarets lost 1-0 to Everton before Saturday’s match at Turf Moor.
Solskjær believes it is unfair they have two matches in three days but did strike a positive note regarding his side’s powers of recovery.
“I don’t think it is fair to be expected to perform at the best of your level, both mentally and physically, 48 hours after you have played,” he said. “But I think we are in the best position to perform on Saturday. One – the game was over after 45 minutes. Two – we are young. We have a great chance against Burnley to perform at the best level because when you are 23, which is the average age of the outfield starting players today, that will make it easier for us to recover than Burnley I think.
“They played until the end against Everton. We were done after 45 minutes [against Newcastle] and used the second-half as recovery. But it is not fair, especially when a game at Watford [on Sunday] has just gone and there will be a game New Year’s Day [at Arsenal]. Two games in three days is possible once in a while but not when it is as tight as this.”
Solskjær referred to his own playing days as a striker for United. “It was easy for me. I was on the bench all the time – I never played 90 mins twice in three days. Maybe I did one year,” he said. “I scored against Villa and Ipswich. To do so you have to look after yourself. You have to eat the right things, drink the right things, sleep well.
“We have one of the best [medical] facilities in the country. We have got the best staff in the country. I know everything is going to be done for the players and by the players to be prepared for Saturday.”
Solskjær does not believe the cluttered festive calendar will be changed. “You are a traditionalist country. You like your traditions. I can’t see it being changed, no. But it should be,” he said.
United beat Newcastle via two Anthony Martial goals and strikes from Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford. They are now only four points from a Champions League berth and Solskjær is unsure if the race to finish fourth will go down to the final day of the season.
“If we get consistent it is not going to do down to the wire,” he said. “We should get into the top four without waiting for the last game against Leicester. But it might go down to the last game. Who knows? But for me, this team – I have said about next season that we might be challengers for a lot more next year, definitely, because we are young – but I still expect a lot from this team this year. I expect them to be ready for Burnley because they are next.”