Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says his Manchester United side are “getting closer” to the standards demanded at Old Trafford as they focus on reaching the Champions League.
United conceded a late goal against Southampton on Monday to draw 2-2, ending a run of four straight Premier League wins.
The result left Solskjaer’s men in fifth place in the table but they are assured of a top-four finish if they win their remaining games against Crystal Palace, West Ham and fellow Champions League hopefuls Leicester.
The Norwegian boss said his message to his players ahead of Thursday’s trip to Crystal Palace was to keep on doing what they had been doing and “trust yourselves”.
“You’re at a club where it always boils down to the last couple of weeks, or two or three games in the season anyway,” he said at his pre-match press conference on Wednesday.
“We’ve done fantastic since we restarted. We started with the draw against Tottenham of course but then had a great run. That little bit of a setback is a test for mentalities.”
Asked if this was the best Manchester United team since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, Solskjaer said: “I don’t think that’s my job to say… but of course we’ve played some good football, some enjoyable football.
“Now it is about consistency. We know we’re privileged to play for this great club and represent this great club and there’s a certain expectation on how we should play football and we’re getting closer and closer to that type of team.”
Solskjaer said his team, unbeaten in 18 matches in all competitions, had made major strides during the 2019/20 campaign.
“We’ve come a long way in this season,” he said. “I think we’ve hurried this process up by quite a distance with what we’ve done since we started this season.”
Solskjaer steered clear of the debate about Financial Fair Play and the lifting of Manchester City’s European ban this week by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho branded the CAS decision “a disgrace” and Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp said Monday was not “a good day for football”.
The ruling could have an immediate impact on United, with fifth place no longer enough for Champions League qualification, but Solskjaer would not be drawn into the debate.
“With Financial Fair Play, it was brought in to keep football and football clubs financially sustainable and I think that’s important and they also give us rules to adhere to.
“That’s what we’re focusing on and let other people discuss what’s right and wrong and what’s happened.”
Premier League clubs have agreed a 10-week summer transfer window, which will open on July 27.
Subject to the approval of football’s world governing body FIFA, the window will open the day after the 2019/20 league season finishes and end on October 5, the date UEFA had recommended for the closure of registration periods across Europe.
The Premier League said that following consultation with the English Football League, a domestic-only window will also be added from October 5 and close on October 16.
Transfers between Premier League clubs will not be able to occur during this period, but top-flight sides can trade with EFL clubs and loan or sign players permanently.
The EFL confirmed its window would open on the same day as the Premier League’s but clubs would have an extra two weeks for domestic-only business.
Liverpool failed to win a Premier League game at Anfield for the first time since January 2019 as Burnley ended a run of 24 straight victories for Jurgen Klopp’s men on home soil thanks to Jay Rodriguez’s strike in a 1-1 draw on Saturday.
Andy Robertson’s first-half header had the champions on course to maintain their perfect home record and close in on a record points tally for the English top flight.
But Liverpool were made to pay for a host of missed chances when Rodriguez’s fine finish earned a point to further Burnley’s late push for a place in Europe next season.
It could even have been three for the visitors as Johann Berg Gudmundsson hit the bar late on.
Liverpool can still break Manchester City’s record points haul of 100 two seasons ago, but will now need to win all three of their remaining matches.
Klopp has insisted he is not looking to rewrite the record books, but there was no sign of the German easing up with a first title in 30 years long since won.
Robertson and Sadio Mane were recalled from the side that won 3-1 at Brighton on Wednesday with only injured captain Jordan Henderson and Trent Alexander-Arnold missing from Klopp’s strongest XI.
Salah’s double in midweek kept him in the running for a third Golden Boot in as many seasons at Liverpool and only Nick Pope in the Burnley goal prevented the Egyptian closing in on Jamie Vardy at the top of the scoring charts.
Pope turned a fiercely struck Salah volley over before spreading himself well to deny Liverpool’s top scorer in another one-on-one.
The opening goal came from a much more unlikely source as Fabinho picked out Robertson’s run and the Scotland captain looped a header into the far corner for his first goal since November.
Pope and Liverpool’s Alisson Becker are battling for the Golden Glove and the England international showed why he is in the lead with 14 shutouts as he kept his side in the game once more before half-time to turn Mane’s powerful shot over the bar.
Chances continued to come and go for the hosts after the break. Remarkably despite Liverpool’s home form, their number nine is still yet to score at Anfield in the league this season as Roberto Firmino hit the post to extend his wait for a home goal.
Curtis Jones was given a chance to shine in Henderson’s absence and blasted another big opportunity wide before he and fellow teenager Neco Williams were replaced by the more experienced Naby Keita and Alexander-Arnold.
Yet, as soon as they were introduced, Burnley levelled against the run of play when Rodriguez’s brilliant finish from James Tarkowski’s knock-down beat Alisson from the edge of the area.
Burnley then had the best chance to win the game in the final stages as Alisson flapped at another set-piece and the ball fell for substitute Gudmundsson, who could not keep his shot underneath the crossbar.
However, a prized point moves Sean Dyche’s men up to ninth, with eighth possibly good enough for a place in the Europa League should Manchester City’s two-season ban from European competition be upheld.
Marcus Rashford believes these are “exciting times” for Manchester United after the team scored five goals in a Premier League match at Old Trafford for the first time since 2011 to thrash Bournemouth 5-2 and move into the top four on Saturday.
Rashford and Anthony Martial took their tallies for the season to 20, but they were upstaged by two more stunning strikes by teenager Mason Greenwood.
The front three with an average age of 21 have now combined for 55 goals this season.
“It’s definitely an exciting time,” Rashford told BT Sport. “We are all in goalscoring form; Mason has been on fire, Anthony has been on fire. They’ve been brilliant all season and it’s important to push on now.”
Victory takes Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men a point above Chelsea into fourth as they extended an unbeaten run stretching back to January to 16 games.
The Norwegian was delighted with another display of attacking football the sides he played in under Alex Ferguson would have been proud of, but was disappointed that no fans were inside Old Trafford to see it.
“The energy in the team, the goals we score, the will and intent to go forward, it’s just too bad we couldn’t get the fans inside,” said Solskjaer. “That’s a game for the fans definitely, it’s one that the Stretford End would enjoy.”
The only other concern for Solskjaer was a few defensive lapses from a side that had kept 11 clean sheets in their previous 15 matches without defeat.
Harry Maguire and David de Gea were at fault for the only points the Red Devils have dropped since the Premier League’s restart in a 1-1 draw at Tottenham.
Both were culpable again as Junior Stanislas nutmegged the world’s most expensive defender and then fired in at De Gea’s near post completely against the run of play on 16 minutes.
Those errors were not as costly this time as Greenwood, Martial and Rashford quickly turned the game around.
Greenwood’s star is rising fast and the 18-year-old blasted home from Fernandes’s pass to get United back on track.
The hosts were then gifted a second by Adam Smith’s handball inside the area and Fernandes stepped aside to let Rashford net for the first time since January.
Martial completed the set with a stunning strike from outside the box to reach the 20 goals mark for the first time in his career.
The game appeared to be over at the break, but a sloppy start from United presented Bournemouth with a route back into the game.
Eric Bailly replaced Victor Lindelof at half-time and the Ivorian handled as he tried to control a loose pass from Nemanja Matic.
Josh King, who was a United target in January as Solskjaer desperately looked for cover for the then-injured Rashford, dispatched the penalty and moments later Bournemouth had the ball in the net again only for Arnaut Danjuma to be flagged offside.
As in the first half, United’s response was quick and emphatic. Greenwood smashed home his 15th goal of the season on his supposedly weaker right foot to restore a two-goal lead.
“He’s a fantastic goalscorer,” added Solskjaer. “Especially the second one, you know he’s got a left foot to come inside, now defenders will have to think about the outside as well because he can score with his right.”
The signing of Fernandes has been the catalyst to United’s turnaround before and after a three-month stoppage due to the coronavirus lockdown and the Portuguese midfielder took his tally to seven goals in 14 games by hooking a free-kick in at Aaron Ramsdale’s near post.
Rashford also had another goal ruled out for offside, but United were happy to settle for five as they moved into the top four for the first time since September.
Bournemouth remain second bottom and without a point in four games since the Premier League’s restart.
Manchester City have confirmed that Pep Guardiola will replace Manuel Pellegrini as their new manager this summer.
This was disclosed in a statement issued by the English Premier League (EPL) club on Monday.
City said they have finalised contractual negotiations with the former Barcelona gaffer to become the head coach for the 2016/2017 EPL season onward.
Guardiola will take over at the Etihad Stadium on a three-year deal with Pellegrini set to officially depart on June 30.
Meanwhile, Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger, also expressed hopes that a home advantage would come into play when the Gunners host Southampton in the EPL on Tuesday.
Arsenal are third in the league, three points behind leaders Leicester City after 23 games and Wenger does not want a repeat of the performance his side put in on Boxing Day when they lost 4-0 at St Mary.
Despite Arsenal having had two draws, away against Stoke City and Liverpool as well as a home defeat to Chelsea in their last three games, Wenger believes his side are playing well.