Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says smiles are back on the faces of his Manchester United players after their victory against Tottenham as he prepares to take on defending champions Manchester City.
United ruined Jose Mourinho’s Old Trafford return on Wednesday, winning 2-1 to end their former manager’s perfect start to his reign at Spurs.
They are sixth in the table, still eight points adrift of fourth-placed Chelsea, but Solskjaer said the win was a shot in the arm for his team after two disappointing draws.
“Confidence is a strange thing in football,” he said at his pre-match press conference on Friday. “You can get performances and results like Wednesday night and it boosts it so much.
“And I know our boys will be up for it, energy-wise they should be fine, 24 hours less recovery time shouldn’t matter (City played on Tuesday), go on adrenaline. I expect them to have had a good night’s sleep and the smiles are back on faces.”
The Norwegian described City as “arguably the best team in England” even though they trail Premier League leaders Liverpool by 11 points.
“I said it before (Spurs) that this is a chance for everyone. It was doom and gloom, but it’s a chance to turn that doubt into belief and, for us, if we can manage to get another performance the confidence, the way we played against Tottenham, if we can do that at the Etihad we can come out of it with a result.
“People say ‘why do you not have better results in other games?’. But the Premier League is hard.
“No matter who you play, it’s margins, I think it’s a compliment to the league. You’ve got City, Liverpool, Leicester consistent, but the other games are really tight.”
– In-form Rashford –
One man playing at the top of his game is forward Marcus Rashford, who has scored 12 goals in his past 13 games for club and country.
“He’s consistently now scoring, but it’s not like four in one and two or three without,” said Solskjaer.
“It’s not just in spurts, but he’s consistently getting chances, into better positions, and on Wednesday night he was unbelievable and hope to see that again.”
Solskjaer moved to Old Trafford in 1996, just after City had been relegated to the second tier of English football.
And it was not until 2001 that the Norwegian faced them in a 1-1 home draw.
“At least we play every year now,” he said about his derby memories. “Took many years before I played a Manchester derby myself, it’s changed in a way.
“Man City are a better team now than when I was playing. Football has changed quite a lot, was allowed a few more proper tackles.
“With every little angle everything is being scrutinised now. It’s more of a technical, tactical game than physical or mental. A derby should be played as a derby. We don’t play basketball and we’re ready if that happens.
“Manchester derbies are always special games, but you can’t say it matters more. For the fans, of course. We’re up for it.”
Paul Pogba will be absent again following his ankle injury but Anthony Martial returns to the squad.
200+ Channels With Sports & News
- Starting price: $33/mo. for fubo Latino Package
- Watch Premier League, Women’s World Cup, Euro 2024 & Gold Cup
The New Home of MLS
- Price: $14.99/mo. for MLS Season Pass
- Watch every MLS game including playoffs & Leagues Cup
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
- Price: $9.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $12.99/mo.)
- Features Bundesliga, LaLiga, Championship, & FA Cup
2,000+ soccer games per year
- Price: $4.99/mo
- Features Champions League, Serie A, Europa League & Brasileirāo
175 Premier League Games & PL TV
- Starting price: $4.99/mo. for Peacock Premium
- Watch 175 exclusive EPL games per season