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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has lauded the togetherness and defensive stability of his Manchester United squad as their win at Brighton continued their push towards Champions League qualification and trophy success in the final weeks of the 2019-20 season.
Solskjaer and Manchester United are now unbeaten in 15 games in all competitions, recording 11 shutouts in that run, as they’re in the latter stages of the FA Cup and Europa League and are just two points off the top four in the Premier League.
Chelsea and Leicester City can feel Man United breathing down their neck.
Speaking via Zoom after the 3-0 demolition of Brighton, Solskjaer was asked by ProSoccerTalk about their defensive displays and he revealed that is key to making the most of their talented attacking quintet.
“You can see with the quality and talent we’ve got going forward, if we have a foundation to play from with a good shape, with good pressing, press high, and also with a back four which is used to each other, and David made two tremendous saves today. There’s loads of reasons behind the clean sheets but there is always that foundation to any team, you have to have a shape to start from. The intensity from our defensive work was great,” Solskjaer said.
Bruno Fernandes scored twice, while Mason Greenwood added another as Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba all played big roles in the win at Brighton.
Man United have secured back-to-back 3-0 wins in the Premier League and they look like a cohesive, solid unit all over the pitch. Does Solskjaer agree?
“Definitely. We know we are 11 men attacking and 11 men defending,” Solskjaer said. “We defend from the front. Anthony, Bruno, Marcus and Mason today, they pressed Brighton, because we know how difficult it is to face Brighton and we stopped them getting a rhythm and the screen in front of the back four with Paul and Nemanja is quite big to get past as well. Very, very happy with the shape and intensity.”
Solskjaer’s Man United are now just two points off fourth-place Chelsea and three points behind third-place Leicester City and have all of the momentum and a much easier remaining schedule compared with their top four rivals.
Bruno Fernandes stole the headlines with his performance as he’s been involved in seven goals in his first seven Premier League games (five goals, two assists) and he believes they can qualify for the Champions League.
As well as also lauding the defensive displays, Fernandes wanted to make sure the entire Man United squad were praised and not just his growing partnership in midfield with Paul Pogba.
“Of course. Paul is an amazing player but I don’t want to talk too much about me and Paul. It is not fair on the other players and teammates. I think Paul thinks the same way. We are really happy to play together but I am really happy to play with everyone. Paul has such good qualities and we know he is so important for us. We know we can combine together and we have qualities and we can play together,” Fernandes said.
“But also we know we have teammates who can do very well when we are out and when we play with another one. It is not fair for the other guys if you just talk about me and Paul. Fred and Scotty [McTominay] did an amazing job before the stop. Nemanja [Matic] is a guy who is doing it very well, also Andreas [Pereira] and Jesse [Lingard] can play number 10, and Juan [Mata], they have such good qualities and give it a lot for the team. We are a team, we train together, they push me to do better, they push Paul to do better. I push Paul and Paul pushes me. At the end, it is team work.”
As they say, team work makes the dream work. Man United’s form has them dreaming of a Champions League return and winning the FA Cup and Europa League.