Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: I'm finding out which players want to sacrifice for Man Utd
United lost for the fourth time in six Premier League games with top-four place out of their hands
By Gerard Brand at Old Trafford
Last Updated: 25/04/19 10:09am
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admits he is finding out which players are willing to sacrifice to take Manchester United forward after their seventh defeat in nine games.
United were beaten 2-0 by rivals Manchester City on Wednesday night, continuing a wretched run of form for the Norwegian, and giving City a huge boost in the Premier League title race.
Solskjaer was given the job with United looking well-placed to finish in the top four, but, having lost four of their last six Premier League games, they now sit three points behind fourth-placed Chelsea with three games remaining.
After admitting in the week that his players needed a "reality check", Solskjaer said after Wednesday's defeat that he wants the right characters around him when he comes back for pre-season in the summer.
Asked what has changed for him since he took on the job permanently in late March, Solskjaer replied: "You need to think long term, but you learn about players more and more, whether they've gone into a comfort zone, and who will be willing to sacrifice to take us forward?
"That's what I'm finding out, and those are the ones you want to continue with. You could see today some of the hunger, what it meant to them, but you have to do that every single game.
"[I want to be sure] when we come back pre-season that I have the right characters in and around. When you are Man Utd, the highlight will be on you, the headlines, so you've got to make sure you come into work every day, and [give] the effort they gave today, that's your duty."
Solskjaer, who insisted again in his programme notes that he will be a success at Old Trafford, said United are currently a long way behind City, who are looking to retain the Premier League title for the first time.
The United boss also reacted to former team-mate Roy Keane's criticism of his players on Sky Sports, saying that he values the former midfielder's opinion.
"I've always, with Roy, had a great relationship with him, and how do you say, I value his opinion very highly. He has his opinion, we played together many years, he's a Man Utd guy as well so he hurts just as much as anybody else connected. That we are as far behind City as we are, that's my job though [to change]."
He had earlier told Sky Sports: "There's a difference in quality, definitely - that's why they are top of the league. They've set the standard and they've set the standard for the last couple of seasons. Living in Manchester, we can't be happy with that. That's up to us to close the gap and eventually overtake them. That's the challenge."
United now host Chelsea in a vital clash on Super Sunday, live on Sky Sports Premier League, knowing a win will bring them level with the Blues on points, and Solskjaer admits he has not thought about Europa League football as yet.
He said: "Of course we want to get in the top four, I've not been thinking or planning on playing on Thursday nights yet, so we'll have to see when May 12 is done, we just have to make sure we give ourselves a chance on Sunday.
"That's what you sign up for when you play for Man Utd, the expectation and the history. That's where we are now. We have to take it step by step, because you can't linger along. The Premier League is so competitive that you will be caught up by other teams as well."
Analysis: City win, Liverpool lose
City's crushing Champions League exit against Tottenham could easily have derailed their season, but their response has been exemplary.
Roy Keane did not hold back on Sky Sports, giving an honest assessment of Solskjaer's current crop of United players...
"We spoke about leaders and characters - I just don't think they have enough of them. These young players need examples around the club and that's the big question mark."
United out-run again
Gary Neville was shocked that United had run five kilometres less than Everton on Sunday; they ended up four kilometres behind City on Wednesday night.
|Man Utd||Man City|
|Distance (player)||Fred - 11.9km||Bernardo - 12.2km|