Solskjaer cautions United players against City tricks
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has warned his players to be ready for Manchester City’s dirty tricks and tactical fouling in the Old Trafford derby.
Manchester United face their neighbours on Wednesday night looking to dent City’s title challenge, but conscious that it could hand a crucial advantage to leaders Liverpool.
Much has been made of City’s magnificent football under Pep Guardiola, but Solskjaer flagged up the fact that the champions are also cynical in retrieving the ball when they lose possession.
‘We have got to be ready for their pressing,’ he added. ‘They have got quality on the ball so we have got to defend well, and when we win it we have got to be ready for their aggression.
‘They will snap at your ankles and heels and kick you. They are not going to allow us easy counter attacking because there will be fouls, I have absolutely no doubt about it.
‘When you watch those games they commit so many players forward and they will be stopping us as high as they can I think.’
Man United fixtures
Wednesday Manchester City (H)
Sunday Chelsea (H)
May 5 Huddersfield Town (A)
May 12 Cardiff City (H)
Solskjaer welcomed such a big game after United’s calamitous 4-0 defeat at Everton extended their recent run to six defeats in eight games.
‘This is the best game we could ask for now with the players hurt as they definitely were,’ he said.
‘We have had a meeting after the game and you can see all the players were definitely disappointed but really, really hurt by that performance.
‘The City game is the perfect one. There’s no hiding place on the pitch and our fans will back you whatever the result will be, so long as you give that effort against a City side that has been very good. We have got to turn up.’
Solskjaer revealed that he has not had time to work with his players on the training ground since the weekend because they have been recovering from the defeat by Everton, but insisted they would be ready to face City.
‘How do we go forward, that’s what we’ve got to focus on,’ he said. ‘We have to look back and reflect on what happened. That was one of two really bad games since I came in – that and Wolves (in the FA Cup).
United’s torrid run
March 10 Arsenal (A) L 0-2
March 16 Wolves (A, FA Cup) L 1-2
March 30 Watford (H) W 2-1
April 2 Wolves (A) L 1-2
April 10 Barcelona (H, Champions League) L 0-1
April 13 West Ham (H) W 2-1
April 16 Barcelona (A, Champions League) L 0-3
April 21 Everton (A) L 0-4
‘Those are the two we were nowhere near the standards. We have to bounce back and look forward to two great games. This is the main focus, a local derby, and we’ve got to be ready.
‘We’ve been here now for about four months and it’s been a great four months. We’re learning all the time but still with the same focus of thinking and planning forward.
‘How do we get back to where Man United want to be? The identity, standards and professionalism we’ve set. Games like the Everton one happen and the response has to be there.
‘We have to try and provoke or inspire a reaction. We haven’t had time to work on the pitch because you need recovery at this stage of the season, so it’s about changing mindsets and making sure heads are ready.’