Keep foot on pedal, warns Solskjaer

Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba has been impressive under the guidance of caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his assistant Michael Carrick (left), scoring four league goals and recording four assists in his last five matches.
Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba has been impressive under the guidance of caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his assistant Michael Carrick (left), scoring four league goals and recording four assists in his last five matches.PHOTO: REUTERS

United interim boss says players cannot be complacent despite their 6 straight victories

LONDON • Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has warned his Manchester United players against complacency as they seek to extend their perfect record under him against Brighton in the Premier League today.

The Norwegian has won all six of his matches in charge - the best start of any United manager - since taking over on Dec 19 following the sacking of Jose Mourinho, and will look to keep up their hot streak at Old Trafford.

While the home team are on a high after beating Tottenham 1-0 away last weekend, Solskjaer wants his team to continue to play on the front foot and "not take their foot off the pedal".

He told reporters at his pre-match press conference: "You go into every single game as a United coach, player or manager thinking you'll win the next one, that's just the nature of this club.

"We've had six good games but the next one is the most important one. You cannot be too confident.

"I want them (the players) going into games full of confidence, taking people on, getting the crowd with them as that's what it's about."

Paul Pogba agreed with the interim boss about taking the game to the opposition, telling Sky Sports now that they "know where to attack and where to go", the club have rediscovered the attacking verve that was their hallmark under former manager Alex Ferguson.

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The France midfielder, who has four league goals and four assists in his last five matches since being granted freedom on the pitch, added: "The way we are playing we have more possession of the ball.

"We have more of a pattern of play and more of a structure. That makes it easier for everyone."

However, not all have been beneficiaries of United's upturn in form. Both Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku are again expected to be named on the bench today.

Sanchez has made only one substitute appearance in the league while Marcus Rashford has supplanted Belgium striker Lukaku as the focal point of United's attack.

But Solskjaer feels Chilean forward Sanchez still has an important role to play in the second half of the season.

He said: "His attitude has been fantastic in training and I'm looking forward to seeing him."

Marouane Fellaini, another Mourinho favourite, has also been on the fringes, making just two substitute appearances for United during their impressive run of form.

Although he has been ruled out for up to four weeks with a calf injury, Solskjaer insisted the Belgium midfielder, who has been the subject of exit rumours in the transfer window, remains part of his immediate plans.

He said: "We all know Felli's X-factor. He'll be working hard to get back in when all the big games are coming as well."

The timing of his injury also meant Scotland midfielder Scott McTominay will unlikely be allowed to leave on loan to Celtic.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 19, 2019, with the headline 'Keep foot on pedal, warns Solskjaer'. Print Edition | Subscribe