Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can’t seem to make his mind up this month over whether Manchester United are in a title race or not.
Looking at the Premier League table, you could conclude that we have fallen too far behind, currently 10 points back from City.
And for that United can only blame themselves. The team dropped seven points in games against Sheffield United, Everton and West Brom, gaining just two from a possible nine.
The draw with Everton hurt, with United conceding a stoppage time equaliser for the game to end 3-3, after previously giving up a two goal lead.
After this game, Solskjaer was adamant that United were never in with a shout in the first place.
He told Sky Sports: “We’re not talking about winning titles. We’ve come a long way this team. We shouldn’t even be considered as title-chasers.”
Solskjaer was understandably despondent after that defeat. And perhaps he just wanted to protect his players from the disappointment they were feeling, trying to focus on the positives of United being so high up in the first place.
His stance seemed to change after the win over Newcastle on Sunday. Solskjaer was far more bullish, refusing to concede defeat in a title race United were, according to him, never a part of.
Solskjaer told Sky Sports: “I am never going to say it’s done until it’s done. We have seen so many examples of teams that have hung in there, have kept working and have kept doing their own jobs. Something might happen. It’s not something we think about – we just think about our own performances.”
That’s more like it. United have always refused to give up on anything no matter how big the challenge. Perhaps he learned his lesson from the comments after the Everton game.
Solskjaer’s earlier comments were criticised by Paul Merson this week who told Sky Sports: “United have the platform and they should secure a top-four finish. Are they looking up rather than behind them?
“I don’t really get Ole Gunnar Solskjaer saying the title race is not over. A few weeks ago, when they were in a better position, he said they weren’t ready to win the title. Now, they are further back, and it’s not done. I’m really not sure what game he is playing?”
He’s right to question Solskjaer’s defeatist comments which emerged after the Everton game. Nobody was particularly impressed with how he talked down his team. United had topped the table in mid-January and were there on merit, before falling away amid a bad patch of form.
The comments he made at the weekend suggest the United boss has got his mojo back and he will be pushing his team to fight to the last kick.
Newcastle once let a 12 point lead slip and United can sow some doubt in City’s mind with a win at The Etihad early next month.
First up is a clash away at Chelsea this weekend. Lose that and United could get dragged back into a top four race. Win and we go nine points clear of Tuchel’s fifth placed side.
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