Wednesday, 11 December 2019 15:28

Manchester United have come through sticky patch - Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Manchester United have "come through a sticky patch" and insists his young side have "always believed" in themselves.

Recent victories over Tottenham and Manchester City gave United back-to-back league wins for the first time this season and lifted them to within five points of the top four.

Despite boasting an impressive record against fellow 'top-six' sides, United have lost to Crystal PalaceWest HamNewcastle and Bournemouth this term, and draws against newly-promoted sides Sheffield United and Aston Villa raised question marks over Solskjaer's future.

However, the Norwegian remains confident his players will improve with experience and believes they have come through a difficult period.

"Consistency is vital in football if you're going to win trophies and this young team need to learn how to put on performances when they don't feel like it, when they don't feel great," the United boss said.

"You don't feel great every single time that you walk onto the pitch and we've had some games this year where we've not been able to perform as well as we would have liked.

"That's a learning curve and I'm sure these young boys in the next couple of years will improve and hopefully for the rest of the season.

"We've come through a sticky patch with bad injuries and bad results and we're looking brighter now.

"Results are the proof in the end but inside we've always believed what we are doing. There's going to be ups and downs but we are on the right track.

"I see these boys every single day in training and what their attitude is, as well as the skills and the quality they've got, so I've not been that worried."


United still without Pogba

United return to action on Thursday night when AZ Alkmaar visit Old Trafford in the Europa League, with top spot in Group L up for grabs between the two sides.

Midfielder Paul Pogba - who has not played since the end of September - remains out as he continues to recover from an ankle injury.

"It is too early for him to play against Alkmaar," Solskjaer said. "He's working hard to get fit so hopefully we will see him in 2019.

"Let's get Paul fit and back in form. Paul will play loads of games. For me, he's one of the best players in the world and we're looking forward to having him back."

Solskjaer's side require just a point to secure first place in the group, while victory for Alkmaar would see them claim top spot. Asked whether he would be bothered if United finish top, Solskjaer said: "Of course I'm bothered.

"I'm not going to send these boys out and say I don't care if you win or lose. We won this trophy a few years ago and it's a great tournament.

"For me I've enjoyed it with Molde and I'm enjoying it now and of course we're hoping to go all the way."

Although Pogba remains out, fellow midfielder Nemanja Matic is fit and is due to be involved. Jesse Lingard, however, was a notable absentee from United's open training session on Wednesday after he sustained a knock in the derby win at the weekend.

Solskjaer confirmed United - who fielded the youngest side in the club's European history against Astana last time out - will name an academy player in their match-day squad for the 4,000th successive match.

He added: "It's in our DNA to give young players a chance. They can only surprise you and impress you when you put them in. It goes without saying that we have a great academy."

Solskjaer condemns racist abuse

Solskjaer condemned the alleged racist abuse some of his Manchester United players suffered in their Premier League clash with Manchester City.

United midfielders Fred and Jesse Lingard were subjected to alleged racism during last weekend's 2-1 derby win at the Etihad, 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.

Solskjaer said: "We have spoken with the boys, of course. They are the same as me. 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. It has been a tough couple of days for Jesse and Fred."




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