London (AFP) – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said the Manchester derby was the “best game that you can ask for” as Manchester United seek to bounce back from the disappointment of their Champions League exit.
United had one foot in the knockout stages after opening wins against Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig but Tuesday’s 3-2 defeat away to the German side dumped them out of them out of the competition.
Solskjaer now has to rally the troops for Saturday’s Old Trafford clash with City as United look to win just their second home Premier League match of the season.
The Red Devils are sixth in the league after four straight wins, one point ahead of City, who are showing signs of hitting form after a stuttering start to the season.
Solskjaer said on Friday that his players were disappointed by their Champions League exit but must now “move on”.
“It was a tight group decided by fine margins,” he said. “I think you can see that in most of the games. We had a long travel back, so we had a day of recovery on Wednesday.
“Then after that the focus has been good. The focus has just been on this game and the Manchester derby, which is what you want the players to get onto straightaway.
“That’s probably the best game that you can ask for after such a disappointment because it does stick in your system.”
The issue of Paul Pogba’s future dominated the build-up to Tuesday’s Champions League match after his agent Mino Raiola said the Frenchman was “unhappy” at the club.
“I speak to my players on a daily basis and Paul’s no different to anyone else,” said Solskjaer. “For me what was disappointing this week was us going out in the Champions League.
“Players want to go through in that and whatever anyone’s representatives say can’t really affect me.”
David de Gea is another United player under the spotlight after he was criticised for not doing more to stop Leipzig’s third goal, leading to calls for England international Dean Henderson to be handed a run in the side.
But Solskjaer backed the Spaniard to bounce back.
“I think David’s a top goalkeeper,” Solskjaer said. “Of course I do and rightly so he’s on lists of being the best goalkeeper in Europe.
“For me, he’s handled criticism before, he’s handled setbacks before and he’s a boy, or a man, that we really rely on.”
Solskjaer said Anthony Martial was available after missing the Leipzig game but he had yet to make a decision on fellow forward Edinson Cavani, who was also absent.
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