Solskjaer stays upbeat despite United wobble

Manchester United defender Chris Smalling (No. 12) scoring an own goal that gave Wolves a 2-1 Premier League win at the Molineux on Tuesday. It was United's second loss to the same team in three weeks.
Manchester United defender Chris Smalling (No. 12) scoring an own goal that gave Wolves a 2-1 Premier League win at the Molineux on Tuesday. It was United's second loss to the same team in three weeks.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has admitted that Manchester United were the architects of their "own downfall" after they were beaten by Wolves for the second time in three weeks.

Tuesday's 2-1 Premier League defeat at Molineux in which Ashley Young was sent off for two bookable offences means United have little margin for error if they are to finish in the top four.

Scott McTominay gave the away side an early lead - his first for the club - but Diogo Jota equalised after a mistake by Fred before Chris Smalling scored an own goal to inflict Solskjaer's first defeat since he was appointed on a full-time basis.

While the Norwegian had no complaints about referee Mike Dean's decision to send off Young just before the hour mark, he was frustrated that his players failed to convert more of their chances.

He said: "A very good start, we should have been three up. It was a very good performance until they scored the second goal.

"But for their goalkeeper, we should have won. That's football for you and that's why it's the game we all love, it's not like maths."

Asked whether the wobble - United have picked up three points out of a possible nine - means things are "resetting" at Old Trafford after an excellent initial impact, Solskjaer claimed he could not "control the result".

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    Points won by Manchester United out of a possible nine in their last three Premier League matches.

He added: "We don't look at it as that. We can control what we do on the pitch performance-wise, and we've played well enough tonight.

"So I don't think there is any kickback. I was very pleased with the chances and the intent."

The result means the Red Devils remain fifth, and two points behind Arsenal, who have a game in hand.

They still need to face league champions Manchester City and Chelsea at home, while Luke Shaw will be suspended for their next two games after collecting his 10th yellow card of the campaign.

However, Solskjaer insisted he was still "confident" and that "it is going to be difficult for anybody who plays against us".

The 46-year-old, who revealed he had an eye on the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Barcelona next Wednesday, added: "Now we need 15 (points) from the last six (matches), so we don't have room for many more losses.

"It is a difficult run, but then we are a very good team as well.

"We will use one or two days to analyse and recover, and then we will prepare for Barcelona, which will be a fantastic challenge."

Separately, Fulham became the second club to be relegated after a 4-1 loss at Watford on Tuesday.

Despite splurging over £100 million (S$177.9 million) on players since winning promotion last year, it has been a wretched term for the Cottagers, who have the league's worst defensive record, shipping 76 goals in 33 games.

Owner Shahid Khan yesterday apologised to the fans for the debacle before stating that the club's hierarchy "hold ourselves accountable".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 04, 2019, with the headline 'Solskjaer stays upbeat despite United wobble'. Print Edition | Subscribe