Solskjaer Defends Team Performance Against Liverpool, Plays Down Neville’s Criticism

Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gestures from the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield stadium in Liverpool, north-west England on January 19, 2020. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has contradicted former team-mate, Gary Neville, by saying on Tuesday United are on the “right track”.

Outspoken TV pundit Neville had said in a podcast after United’s 2-0 defeat at leaders Liverpool on Sunday, which left the Red Devils 30 points behind their rivals in the Premier League, the club was in a mess.

The former United captain pinned much of the blame for the team’s current problems on the recruitment undertaken by chief executive Ed Woodward.

But with United still fifth in the league and competing in three cup competitions, Solskjaer believes it is not the right time to start a blame game.

“We’ve just lost to Liverpool, who you all say are fantastic and we have been in the game until the last kick of the ball,” he said at his press conference on the eve of United’s Premier League game with Burnley on Wednesday.

“For me, that is strides forward.

“The signs are there that we’re on the right track, definitely.

“For me, now is not the time to talk about recruitment.

“We are always looking to improve the squad, so now is not the time to start that discussion, Gary.”

Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer throws the ball back in from the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield stadium in Liverpool, north west England on January 19, 2020. Paul ELLIS / AFP

Fighting for the fourth place — the final Champions League spot — is not what is expected of a club of United’s stature, but the manager remains confident they are doing things to rectify that.

“We know we’re not where we want to be and should be, historically,” he admitted.

“It’s down to us to work better and from my experience, in the 12, 13 months I’ve been here, the players that I’ve brought in have been good, so I have no complaints whatsoever.”

Rashford’s ‘new injury’ 

On the pitch, United will give Marcus Rashford all the time he needs to recover from a double stress fracture to his back.

Rashford picked up the injury in the 1-0 win over Wolves in the FA Cup replay last Wednesday and will miss at least three months.

The England striker, who has scored 19 times for United this season, had been monitoring his back following the away match at Burnley on December 28, but Solskjaer says it was not a previous injury.

“Marcus will be out for a while, but he will get the time he needs to recover,” he said.

“He’s not had that injury before.

“He complained a little bit after the last time we played Burnley.

“We managed him as well as we could then.

“He had some days off for treatment, we took him off in some games and then suddenly this was a new injury.”

Solskjaer must now decide whether to make a late move in the transfer window for a striker to cover for Rashford’s absence.

If he cannot bring anyone in, the Norwegian will look to 18-year-old Mason Greenwood and veteran midfielder Juan Mata — who scored the goal that knocked Wolves out of the FA Cup — to try and plug the gap.

“Mason will get more chances now and Juan will have to step up again,” he said.

“We know we’re stretched with the injuries we’ve had but we’ll cope with that.”

AFP

I’m Not Expecting Rashford In Next Few Weeks, Says Solskjaer

 

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer does not believe top scorer Marcus Rashford will be fit to return from a back injury for a number of weeks.

Rashford was forced off less than 15 minutes after coming on as a second-half substitute in an FA Cup third-round replay win over Wolves on Wednesday and was absent for United’s trip to Liverpool on Sunday.

However, Solskjaer revealed the England international is unlikely to return before United’s mid-season break at the start of February.

“He’s got a couple of knocks, jolts against Wolves,” Solskjaer told Sky Sports.

“He aggravated his back (and) had trouble before. (We need to) give him time to recover and rest before we put him back on the pitch.

“I wouldn’t expect him to be back in the next few weeks. We have a mid-season break and I’m not sure are going to see him before then, no.”

United face either Watford or Tranmere in the FA Cup fourth round, travel to Manchester City for the second leg of their League Cup semi-final — trailing 3-1 from the first leg — and host Wolves in the Premier League in the next two weeks.

Solskjaer’s men then have a 16-day period to rest and recuperate thanks to the Premier League’s first-ever winter break before travelling to Chelsea on February 17.

AFP

Maguire Named As New Man Utd Captain, With Young Set For Exit

Manchester United’s English defender Harry Maguire gestures at the end of the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Norwich City at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on January 11, 2020.
Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has confirmed Harry Maguire as Manchester United’s new captain less than six months after his £80 million ($104 million) move from Leicester.

Maguire will take over as skipper from Ashley Young, who is expected to complete his move to Inter Milan pending a medical on Friday.

“Harry has come in and been wearing the captain’s armband and he will keep wearing it,” said Solskjaer.

“He has been a leader in the group and I have not been surprised but impressed with his leadership skills.”

Solskjaer cast doubt on Marcus Rashford’s hopes of shaking off a back injury for Sunday’s clash with Premier League leaders Liverpool.

Rashford made a brief appearance in the midweek FA Cup win over Wolves, which may have cost him his chances of figuring at Anfield.

Solskjaer said: “We’re going to give him the absolute amount of time but I am not going to hold my breath.

“I would think that he probably wouldn’t be ready but he’s still got 48 hours so let’s see.”

AFP

Man United Can Still Compete With The Best In Transfer Market, Says Solskjaer

Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer/ AFP

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Manchester United retain the power to compete at the top end of the transfer market despite warnings their status as the Premier League’s richest club is “at risk”.

According to Deloitte’s Football Money League, United’s revenue of £627.1 million ($814 million) in 2018-19 put them third overall behind only Barcelona and Real Madrid.

But the consulting firm warned United could soon find themselves slipping behind Liverpool and Manchester City due to their failure to qualify for the Champions League.

Solskjaer offered a robust defence of the club’s status on Tuesday, speaking ahead of his side’s FA Cup third-round relay against Wolves.

“The most important thing for me is we get the results sorted and the performances on the pitch,” he said.

“But I know that we’ve got the resources, we’ve got the backing. If we need to go into the transfer market we are still up there so we’re still in a good place.”

United are reportedly in talks over a deal for Sporting Lisbon midfielder Bruno Fernandes, who could cost as much as £70 million, though Solskjaer offered no update on that or any other moves in the January market.

Wednesday’s match against Wolves at Old Trafford could offer another opportunity for 18-year-old striker Mason Greenwood, who started in the goalless draw between the two sides at Molineux on January 4.

 Greenwood warning 

Greenwood has enjoyed a hugely impressive season to date, scoring nine goals for United‘s senior side in 26 appearances but Solskjaer cautioned against England taking him to Euro 2020, with concerns over the availability of the injured Harry Kane.

“I think Mason will have a top career, a long career, but let the boy settle in now before we talk about England and the Euros,” he said.

“His focus has to be playing for us and improving. When he plays well for us, that will happen by itself.”

Solskjaer is trying to carefully manage the demands on his younger players, and his squad as a whole, as they prepare for their 14th game in 46 days.

“It is physically and mentally demanding and we’ve got to make sure we energise them with results,” he said.

“After a performance like Norwich (a 4-0 win) they all felt good about that and used that as motivation.

“We’re not there yet, we’ve got to keep working and improving, just keep the rhythm. I didn’t play in all these games when I was playing but I felt like, as a team, we improved when we got in a rhythm of match, rest, match, rest.

“The likes of Roy (Keane), Gary (Neville), (Paul) ‘Scholesy’, they only seemed to improve and we need to get to that.”

With United well off the pace in the Premier League and needing to overturn a 3-1 first-leg deficit to rivals Manchester City in the semi-finals of the League Cup, Solskjaer is looking to the FA Cup as the most realistic prospect of silverware this season.

“This tournament is one that we all dream about winning when we’re young,” he said. “I loved my time in the finals and lifting the trophy, so we want to go through.”

AFP

Solskjaer Hails Rashford After United Thrash Norwich

Manchester United’s English striker Marcus Rashford (R) scores their second goal from the penalty spot during the English Premier League football match against Norwich City at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on January 11, 2020. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

 

Marcus Rashford marked his 200th appearance for Manchester United with two goals in a 4-0 win over Norwich on Saturday, leaving his manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer predicting he can get even better.

Anthony Martial and impressive teenager Mason Greenwood were also on the mark as Solskjaer’s team maintained their hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League through the league table.

But those prospects may depend on the continued fitness of Rashford, who was substituted after less than an hour and was declared doubtful for Wednesday’s FA third-round replay with Wolves due to injury problems.

Solskjaer admitted he will have to handle Rashford’s fitness carefully and little wonder given that the 22-year-old has now scored 19 times in his past 23 games for United and England.

“What an achievement, to get to 200 games at his age,” said the Norwegian boss. “I don’t know how many goals he has scored but he has 19 (for United) this season and he’s been absolutely top class to work with.

“He’s a great kid, great attitude, he wants to learn, wants to improve but knows he has to keep his feet on the ground but is always available even though today he is carrying quite a few knocks.

“He’s played many, many games, I might have to look at how we manage him but of course he can get so much better. He’s got everything to be a top-class player.”

– Rampant Rashford –

Rashford now has 64 goals in his United career, with the 63rd of those coming in the 27th minute after largely unrelenting home pressure, although the goal owed everything to a fantastic assist from Juan Mata.

The Spanish playmaker received a long pass from Victor Lindelof and, after Todd Cantwell backed off a little too far, had the space to float in a perfect cross which Rashford volleyed in at the far post.

David de Gea was required to make a superb save late in the first half to keep their lead intact, diving well to claw away a curling shot from Cantwell.

But that was a rare lapse from a United side that dominated for the bulk of the game and should have been enjoying a more comfortable cushion by the interval.

That finally came with two goals in quick succession early in the second half, with Rashford heavily involved in the first of those, playing a ball into the area for Brandon Williams to chase.

The young full-back won a penalty after a rash challenge from goalkeeper Tim Krul.

United had missed four of their previous eight penalties this season — two in their win at Norwich before Christmas — but Rashford made no mistake on this occasion with a firm strike into the bottom right-hand corner.

The Reds did not have long to wait for a third as Williams played a quick, short corner to Mata whose cross was headed in brilliantly by Martial, who rose powerfully amid a crowded six-yard area to head firmly past Krul.

It was the second assist of an impressive afternoon for Mata, with Norwich’s outplayed midfield and immobile defence having no answer to his skill-set.

“When you get Juan facing forward he can pick those passes and put crosses in, he was excellent,” said Solskjaer.

Williams himself should have continued the rout moments later, missing an open net from three yards, before substitute Greenwood finally produced that fourth after 75 minutes, driving a left-foot shot past Krul from the edge of the area.

AFP

United Won’t Make Panic Buys, Says Solskjaer

Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer arrives back on the pitch for the second half of the English League Cup semi-final first leg football match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England on January 7, 2020. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insists Manchester United will not look for short-term solutions in the January transfer window just to guarantee his job security.

Solskjaer will not countenance bringing in players if they do not fit in with United’s long-term plan.

His squad has been stretched by injuries and a gruelling schedule and they have not won any of their three matches so far in 2020.

Those weaknesses were brutally exposed in the 3-1 defeat by Manchester City in the first leg of the League Cup semi-finals on Tuesday to once again put the spotlight on Solskjaer.

United struggled in the absence of injured midfielders Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay.

However, Solskjaer refuses to discuss the idea of any stop-gap signings.

“I am not going to protect myself,” Solskjaer said ahead of Norwich’s visit to Old Trafford on Saturday.

“I am here to do what I think is best for the club and what I feel is best.

“I would never, ever, ever, put myself before the club. This is Manchester United and there is no I in Manchester.

“I could never do that. That is not me. I am working and managing for Man Utd.

“Myself and Ed (Woodward) are having conversations all the time about how we are going to look in one month, in five months and in a longer period.

“He knows my feelings and I am very happy working with these players we have.”

– ‘Due diligence’ –

Despite the shortcomings United have shown this season, they are still just five points adrift of fourth-placed Chelsea, who occupy the final Champions League qualification spot.

The right signing could make all the difference in reaching Europe’s elite club competition next season.

Yet Solskjaer is firm in his belief that any newcomer must adhere to the values and qualities that United want.

“We are building towards something, but I am sure the fans are bored listening to me talk about what we do have as a vision and a plan,” he said.

“It doesn’t change from September 1 to now. That is impossible to change.

“You wouldn’t put yourself in a position now that you do something that you regret in 18 months.

“So we have to do due diligence on players’ quality and character to make it the right fit into this squad.”

After the defeat by City, United striker Marcus Rashford admitted his team were only playing at 50 percent of their current potential.

Solskjaer was reluctant to go that far, but he cites Rashford, who has scored 14 goals in his last 19 games for United, as proof of what can be achieved.

“We didn’t perform really well for long periods in that game, that’s for sure,” he said.

“I don’t think it was a half performance but I know where Marcus is coming from.

“We know the potential of how we can perform and sometimes we don’t reach that.

“But Marcus is an example of how well this team has improved and how much it is improving.”

AFP

‘I’m Not In Medieval Times’, Solskjaer Dismisses Van Persie’s Criticism

United Seek To Derail Liverpool Title Bid
Manchester United’s Norwegian caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gestures during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at Wembley Stadium in London, on January 13, 2019. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has hit back at criticism of his management style from former Red Devils striker Robin Van Persie, saying: “I’m not in medieval times.”

The Dutchman felt Solskjaer appeared too upbeat in the aftermath of the 2-0 defeat to Arsenal on New Year’s Day that left United five points behind fourth-placed Chelsea in the Premier League.

Van Persie said Solskjaer “seems like a really nice guy” but that the Norwegian needed to be more “mean at times” and “more angry” and added: “You need to have fear as well for your coach.”

Solskjaer, who is also having to handle fresh speculation surrounding the future of star midfielder Paul Pogba, said Van Persie was not in a position to judge his methods.

“I don’t know Robin and Robin doesn’t know me,” he said ahead of his side’s FA Cup third-round tie away to Wolves.

“He probably doesn’t have a right to criticise my management style and I won’t change. That’s definite. Robin took my number 20 (shirt) and that’s probably all he’s going to take from me as well. Because I’m not in medieval times.”

The “medieval times” remark was perceived to be Solskjaer defending his man-management methods, which appear far removed from the more autocratic approach of his old United boss Alex Ferguson.

Solskjaer was also asked about criticism of the club in general from Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola.

The Italian is reported to have told La Repubblica he would stop sending his clients to United, saying they would “ruin” even a great player.

Coming in the context of a fresh injury setback for Pogba, who will be out for three to four weeks after surgery to remove bone fragments from his ankle, the comments have been interpreted by some as Raiola seeking to engineer a move away from Old Trafford for Pogba.

“Paul Pogba is our player and agents are hired by players, not the opposite way around. It’s not ‘agents’ players’, it’s ‘our players’,” said Solskjaer.

“What me and Paul are talking about I don’t have to talk to you about. That will be between us.”

United travel to Molineux on Saturday to take on the team that knocked them out in last season’s quarter-finals.

AFP

Man United In Full Support Of Pogba Operation, Says Solskjaer

Manchester United and France midfielder Paul Pogba gives a press conference in Tours, central France, on December 29, 2019.  AFP

 

Manchester United were in full support of the decision that led to Paul Pogba undergoing ankle surgery, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said on Friday.

The Norwegian boss appeared to suggest after the New Year’s Day defeat to Arsenal that Pogba’s “people” had recommended the surgery, raising questions over how much input the club had in the decision.

The French World Cup winner made his comeback after nearly three months out with an ankle injury in a 2-0 defeat at Watford on December 22 and also made an appearance off the bench in a 4-1 thrashing of Newcastle four days later but has since been sidelined again.

Speculation continues to surround the 26-year-old, who has been regularly linked with a move away from Old Trafford and whose agent, Mino Raiola, has been scathing about the club in comments made in the Italian media.

But Solskjaer was keen to play down any suggestion of a disagreement regarding the injury, and said: “Paul came back after a long spell out, (featured in) a few games, had a reaction, didn’t go to Burnley.

“He felt his ankle was sore, we did a scan. It’s not the same injury, it’s a different injury. Of course when you get that scan you consult your own medical people as well, like I did. He wanted a second opinion and the advice was to have it done.”

On the injury, Solskjaer added: “It’s not a major one and probably, as I said, three or four weeks.

When asked again about why he had suggested it was Pogba’s “people” behind the decision to undergo surgery, he added: “As in when you consult your surgeon and the ones you trust.

“That’s maybe my bad English — you have people you trust and you speak to. When I had my injuries, knee operations, I had my people in Norway and Sweden that I spoke to and Paul obviously has people as well that he trusts, and that’s important.”

Wolves FA Cup test 

Solskjaer’s team face Wolves in the FA Cup third round at Molineux on Saturday, having been dumped out of the competition by them in the quarter-finals last season.

“They’re not going to make it easy for us,” he said.

“It’s the fourth time at Molineux since I’ve been here and we haven’t won yet. Liverpool lost there last season, City have just lost there so we have got to earn the right to win there. We’ve got to perform and go there positive.

“We want a reaction after the defeat against Arsenal, which everyone says was such a bad, bad performance. But in my mind it was a good game by two good footballing teams.”

Eighteen-year-old Mason Greenwood, who started and scored in the Boxing Day win at home to Newcastle and came off the bench at Arsenal, could be in contention.

“He’s grown a lot. He’s mentally and physically more robust which of course you expect from an 18-year-old,” Solskjaer said.

“He’s had more or less 12 months with us now and he’s grown fantastically, his confidence and performances in the top games. He’s played a lot of cup games and done well.”

Solskjaer also confirmed that reserve goalkeeper Sergio Romero would play at Molineux.

AFP

Solskajer Rues Festive Fixture Pile-Up

Manchester United Name Solskjaer As Permanent Manager
Manchester United’s Norwegian caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer 
Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Manchester United’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has become the latest Premier League manager to complain about the “unfair” packed programme of fixtures over Christmas and New Year.

United play their final league match of 2019 against Burnley on Saturday, just over 48 hours since competing a 4-1 comeback win over Newcastle.

Those matches form part of a sequence of seven games in 21 days that is hard to square with modern notions of rest and recovery.

But such is the commercial appeal of the traditionally congested programme that change does not appear likely anytime soon, even though Jurgen Klopp, the manager of runaway leaders Liverpool said recently it was a “crime” for teams to have to play on both December 26 and 27.

“I don’t think it is fair on the boys at all,” said United manager Solskjaer.

“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.

“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,” the former United striker added.

“We have a great chance against Burnley to perform at the best level because our boys, when you are 23, which is the average age of the outfield starting players (against Newcastle), that will make it easier for us to recover than Burnley, for example. I think.

“They played until the end against Everton. We were done after 45 minutes and used the second half as recovery.

“But it is not fair, especially when a game at Watford has just gone and there will be a game New Years’ Day.

“Two games in three days is possible once in a while but not when it is as tight as this.”

The Norwegian, asked if English football might change its ways, replied: “You are a traditionalist country. You like your traditions. I can’t see it being changed, no. But it should be.”

As for how he coped during his playing days, Solskjaer jokingly said: “It was easy for me. I was on the bench all the time! I never played 90 minutes twice in three days.

“Maybe I did one year. I scored against Villa and Ipswich. You have to look after yourself.

“You have to eat the right things, drink the right things, sleep well.”

AFP

Solskjaer Calls For Consistency After Manchester United Mini-Revival

United Seek To Derail Liverpool Title Bid
Manchester United’s Norwegian caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer / AFP

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said Wednesday that he wants Manchester United to learn how to be consistent as his in-form team prepare for their Europa League clash with AZ Alkmaar.

Group L leaders United have already qualified for the knockout stages of the competition going into Thursday’s match at Old Trafford, and they are up to fifth place in the Premier League after a run of five matches without defeat that included successive wins over Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City.

“Consistency is vital in football. If we want to win trophies this young team needs to learn how to put performances in when they don’t feel great,” said Solskjaer. “It doesn’t happen that you feel great every time you walk onto the pitch.

“We have had some games this year where we have not been able to perform as well as we would like but that is a learning curve.

“The young boys will improve that as well in the next few years and hopefully the rest of the year. We are looking brighter now.”

Solskjaer’s side are one point ahead of surprise Dutch outfit Alkmaar and need a draw from their final group match to ensure top spot.

“Results are the proof in the end. Inside we have always believed in what we are doing,” the Norwegian added.

“I see these boys in training every single day. I see their skills and attitude so I’m not worried.”

Solskjaer also condemned the alleged racist abuse aimed at United midfielders Fred and Jesse Lingard in their 2-1 derby win over City on Saturday, with the former also being hit by missiles as he went to take a second-half corner.

A 41-year-old man was arrested on Sunday in connection with the allegations, before being bailed pending further investigation.

“This isn’t how it should be in football but what we can do is go out onto the pitch next time and prove we are all equal,” said Solskjaer. “It has been a tough couple of days for Jesse and Fred.”

AFP

Solskjaer Calm About United Future Despite Sackings

Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer leaves after the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Aston Villa at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on December 1, 2019. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says he does not fear for his future as Manchester United manager despite a spate of Premier League sackings as he prepares to face his predecessor Jose Mourinho.

Spurs turned to Mourinho after dismissing Mauricio Pochettino last month, while Arsenal and Watford have subsequently sacked Unai Emery and Quique Sanchez Flores.

READ ALSO: ‘We Didn’t Use Our Heads’, Sarri Berates Players For Poor Performance

Solskjaer is under increasing pressure, with United ninth in the Premier League, 22 points behind leaders Liverpool and eight off a top-four spot as they prepare for Wednesday’s match against Tottenham.

“No, it doesn’t make me more concerned,” Solskjaer said at his pre-match press conference on Tuesday.  “I’m just focusing on my job and that’s just doing as well as I can, and look forward to the next game, and look long-term, plan things with board.

“It’s that time of year. It’s never nice to see your colleagues lose your jobs — three in a very short space of time.

“It’s a game of margins,” he added. “Sometimes you have luck, sometimes you don’t, but it doesn’t make me any more concerned that it’s December.

“I’m good, absolutely no problem. Sometimes you laugh when you read stories about what I’ve said and stuff, at least I know the sources are just made up, blatant lies.”

The United boss bemoaned his team’s failure to turn draws into wins, saying they were not getting the results their football deserved.

The club are winless in three games and Solskjaer’s job will not get any easier with a derby against Manchester City on Saturday to follow the game against Mourinho’s Spurs side.

The Norwegian, though, dismissed any need for crisis talks with the United board.

“Three days or four days are not going to change a whole lot, but these two games are great chances for us to prove things and prove to ourselves that we can continue in the vein we have had against some of the better sides,” he said.

Solskjaer expects Mourinho to receive a warm welcome when he returns to Old Trafford a year after being sacked, having won the League Cup and Europa League during his time in charge.

“We know we have to improve, we are working hard to do that right and when you change a manager halfway through the season (it) isn’t where it is supposed to be,” said the Norwegian.

“I don’t think whoever the manager of the opposition team is will change their motivation (of the players),” he said.

“They are motivated to do well for Man Utd, because they know it’s about improving every day in training and every time you step on that pitch it’s a chance to prove you can be part of this long term. That has always been the case at Man Utd.”

United will still be without the injured Paul Pogba but Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic will be assessed as Solskjaer looks at his midfield options.

AFP

Maguire Frustrated Over United Defensive Lapses

Manchester United’s English defender Harry Maguire (L) vies with Aston Villa’s Brazilian striker Wesley (R) during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Aston Villa at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on December 1, 2019.
PHOTO: Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Harry Maguire is frustrated that defensive lapses are costing Manchester United crucial points after they let slip a winning position for the second consecutive match against Aston Villa.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side were leading 2-1 midway through the second half at Old Trafford on Sunday before a Tyrone Mings equaliser forced them to share the points.

The 2-2 draw left United in ninth place in the Premier League with 18 points from 14 matches, their worst return at a similar stage since 1988/89.

United also conceded a late goal in the previous week in a 3-3 draw against Sheffield United after storming back from 2-0 down to lead 3-2.

“We got ourselves in a great position in the second half (against Villa) and again conceded a sloppy goal really,” Maguire told MUTV.

“As a defender especially, it’s frustrating,” he added. “We haven’t really conceded many chances or goals prior to the last two games and then we’ve conceded five.”

Jose Mourinho returns to Old Trafford for the first time since he was sacked a year ago with a resurgent Tottenham side on Wednesday before United make the short trip to neighbours Manchester City at the weekend.

Solskjaer has to find a way to turn draws into wins, having managed just six victories in 22 league matches since being appointed permanent manager in March.

Maguire believes the quick turnaround from Sunday to Wednesday could help United after their recent disappointments.

“It’s perfect. When you don’t win any football match you want a game as soon as possible to put things right,” he said. “And there’s no better way than to play Tottenham here at Old Trafford.”

AFP