Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insists Manchester United can’t waste late slice of luck in race for top four as they arrive at The Lowry ahead of crucial clash with Chelsea at Old Trafford
- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants to take advantage of his faltering rivals in top four
- United’s top-four prospects looked dead and buried when they lost at Everton
- However, Arsenal then lost twice in four days, Chelsea were held by Burnley
- Tottenham also lost on Saturday when they were beaten at home by West Ham
Having lost seven of his last nine matches, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants Manchester United to take full advantage of an unexpected Champions League lifeline offered by faltering rivals.
United’s top-four prospects looked dead and buried a week ago when they lost 4-0 at Everton. But the obituaries proved premature: Arsenal then lost twice in four days, Chelsea were held by Burnley and Spurs lost on Saturday.
Those results have left Solskjaer’s men able to have a real go at fourth even though they lost again to Manchester City on Wednesday night.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (left) and Paul Pogba leave the team coach after arriving at The Lowry
Manchester United defender Eric Bailly arrives at The Lowry with his team-mates on Saturday
Pogba (centre) and co lug their suitcases up the stairs to The Lowry on Saturday evening
Beat Chelsea at Old Trafford on Sunday and they’d finish higher than the Londoners if they took maximum points from their last two games against Huddersfield and Cardiff.
They’d still need Arsenal to slip up against Leicester, Brighton or Burnley but the Gunners are fading fast.
Aware of the gloom and doom surrounding United, Solskjaer is desperate his players don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.
‘If you’d told me we’d lose to Wolves, Everton and City, I’d say we were out of the chase but strange things happen at the start and end of a season,’ he said.
United manager Solskjaer makes his way up to the team hotel while being greeted by fans
Chris Smalling (left) and Anthony Martial (right) arrive at team hotel ahead of Sunday’s clash
David de Gea will be hoping to right his wrongs when United face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge
‘Every one of my players can wake up today with the reality that if we beat Chelsea we have a very good chance to get in the top four. We’d have all taken that.
‘It’s one way of changing mindsets on what’s happened recently. You can’t do anything about that now. You have to look forward to the next three games.’
Solskjaer isn’t daft. Surgery is needed at Old Trafford after six below-par years since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.
Yet after a dreadful season that saw Jose Mourinho sacked and the dressing room divided, qualifying for the Champions League would be a huge and unlikely bonus.
Addressing the underlying problems, Solskjaer is adamant that United’s owners, the Glazer family, can not be blamed for a lack of investment in signings.
The Red Devils will be hoping to capitalise on Arsenal losing twice in four days
Tottenham also lost on Saturday when they were beaten at home by West Ham
The team that were beaten 2-0 in the Manchester derby cost more than £400million — approximately the same as City.
Instead, the United boss wants the club to improve the recruitment strategy rather than necessarily increase spending levels. He saw Jurgen Klopp hold off on buying a centre-half until Virgil van Dijk became available.
‘You can’t say we haven’t invested enough money — the owners have invested loads of money,’ argues Solskjaer.
One feels the United players who survive into next season will get a tough pre-season. ‘The fitness levels are not good enough for me,’ said Solskjaer, who seems genuinely shocked by how little ground his players can cover.