The caretaker manager insists that it is not the Old Trafford way to overlook major titles in favour of a respectable finish in the league
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insists that Manchester United will be fighting on all fronts between now and the end of the season rather than focus on their quest for a top-four spot in the Premier League.
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino – a candidate for the permanent role at United – claimed this week that cup wins “only build your ego” and insisted his attention is focused solely on the bid to reach the Champions League next season.
But caretaker-boss Solskjaer, who won 11 major trophies as a player with United, says that cup success in both the Champions League and the FA Cup is a bigger target than finishing the league campaign well.
“That’s not the dream, to be top four. We’re Man United, you should always aim to win the league,” he told a press conference ahead of Tuesday’s clash with Burnley. “We can’t do that this year but we’ve just got to look forward to that again because we have to get back to that.
“We’ve got the Champions League, we’ve got the FA Cup, we can’t just say top four and that’s it. We’ve got to look at ‘Can we win something this year?’ and, as I’ve said, I go into every single game as a Man United manager thinking we can win this game.”
United have so far taken eight victories from their eight matches under Solskjaer, and have narrowed the gap between them and the top four teams from 11 points to just three.
But the Norwegian believes his side are well placed to push on for an even higher spot in the table.
“We are sixth at the moment so we are a way behind the top teams,” he added. “We are challenging to be top three at the moment.
“I don’t think we can realistically think about the top two positions, but I have been really impressed with the team and the players and the desire to improve, and the team spirit, so that goes a long way.”
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Meanwhile, the manager has said that the club will remain patient with Brazilian midfielder Fred after his difficulties assimilating since arriving from Shakhtar Donetsk last summer.
“I don’t think it’s my challenge to incorporate players, it’s about the players being ready when they get the chance and Fred’s been working really hard in training. We know there’s a very, very good player there with Fred, so hopefully he’ll adjust to the English game because there’s no doubt there’s talent, absolutely no doubt.
“It’s always difficult to come here. One: It’s Man United, you’re expected to perform straight away. Two: It’s an English league that he’s not used to.
“There are loads of players that have come in and found the first few months difficult. One of the best players I’ve played with who struggled the most was Diego Forlan. And Juan Sebastian Veron.
“Those were two fantastic players and it took a bit of time but when they settled they performed. So I don’t think he needs to worry too much. He’ll get chances.”
United could go level with fourth-placed Chelsea with a win over the Clarets ahead of the west Londoners’ trip to Bournemouth 24 hours later.