Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is yet to publicly concede the Premier League title despite the fact Manchester United trail Manchester City by 10 points with 13 games left to play, but the Red Devils boss insists he is solely pleased by his team’s mentality and “focus on ourselves.”
Sunday’s 3-1 victory over Newcastle United was anything but beautiful from Manchester United, but they got the job done once again and matched fellow second-place hopefuls Leicester City after the Foxes’ win away to Aston Villa earlier in the day. Given the gap between first and second, Solskjaer knows he and his team can only do so much as the season sprints to its end, and he’s encouraged to see them making the most of what’s in front of them — quotes from the BBC:
“We can’t control any other team, we just have to focus on ourselves and be the best possible Manchester United every game. Things happen and there are many surprises in football.
“We’ve got to be there just in case, but every game is important. Every time we get three points we’ve done our job and that’s what we’ve got to do and see what other teams do. The main thing is to get the ball in the net more than the opposition, and we’re doing that, but there are games where we’ll have to keep clean sheets.”
“First half, even though we had most of the possession we didn’t create enough. It is never easy to get going again, also with the season as it is. We had to step it up and we did in the second half.
“We had to find a way to win it in the second half. The first half wasn’t up to the standard that we wanted, maybe because of Newcastle, maybe because of what we did in the week. We asked them to go again after a high-intensity game, and it took us to half time to get our legs and energy.”
“Just keep going. You have to be relentless. The season is a strange one but you have to build on confidence. We have to recover well in between and I am sure they will because when you win games you get energy.”
Having lost just once in their last 19 Premier League games, Manchester United are 14 points better now than they were at this point last season (25 games played). That degree of improvement should be an incredible cause for (justified) optimism among Manchester United fans.
From the recap of Manchester United 3-1 Newcastle, here are some thoughts on what finishing second in 2020-21 would mean for Solskjaer and Co., as we take the smallest peek ahead to next season…
In the eight years since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, Manchester United have finished in the top-three only twice and the top-two just once. They were 3rd last season after being 6th the season prior. Back-to-back seasons in the top-three would be a massive improvement in consistency, especially considering [Man United’s squad is still far from ready to contend for titles].