Undaunted Solskjaer continues to focus on the positive

Manchester United boss feels club on the right track despite Champions League exit

David de Gea: retains the faith of Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær in advance of derby clash with Manchester City. Photograph: Annegret Hilse/AFP/Getty

Ole Gunnar Solskjær believes Manchester United have the “penetration and consistency” critics claim they lack, with the manager pleased with the side’s direction as he approaches two years in charge.

United are sixth as they prepare to host Manchester City in Saturday’s 183rd derby, sitting five points behind the joint-leaders, Tottenham and Liverpool, with a match in hand, having won their past four Premier League games.

On Tuesday United crashed out of the Champions League when losing 3-2 at Leipzig, when a point would have been enough to qualify for the last-16.

Saturday-week will mark the second anniversary of Solskjaer’s appointment and he was asked how he assesses the side’s development.


“I feel we’re getting better and better and looking more like a Man United team that I want with fast attackers, with dynamism,” he said.

“We’ve got good players and individual quality that can create magic out of nothing – that’s always been the way at Man United. But we can see more of the penetration and consistency everyone says we don’t have. We’ve won the last four in the league which has become a good run and hopefully that continues.”

Despite the Champions League disappointment, Solskjaer pointed to this as part of United’s improvement under him.

“It’s been a step up from last season when we played in the Europa League,” he said. “Those six [group] games have been great in testing levels because we played against two top teams, one who were finalists [Paris Saint-Germain] and one semi-finalist [Leipzig] last year.

“We’ve learnt any small mistake will get punished; we were very close to going through in a very good group. That shows me a team moving forward from barely beating Rochdale [last year on penalties in the Carabao Cup], and we struggled to beat Astana and Partizan [in the Europa League] convincingly. We still have a little bit of a way to go of course to compete and go and win the Champions League because that’s our aim: to win trophies, be contenders.”

Solskjær gave David de Gea his support after the goalkeeper appeared to shirk challenging Justin Kluivert as the winger scored Leipzig’s decisive third.

“He’s a man that we really rely on and hopefully he’s not affected by criticism and I don’t think he will be,” he said.

The manager said Anthony Martial would be involved against City but the game may have come too soon for Edinson Cavani.

– Guardian