Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer revealed he has been a “big admirer” of an element of Liverpool’s team for “many years now”, and gave a predictable reply when weighing on the Cristiano Ronaldo v Mohamed Salah debate.
Manchester United face their toughest task to date this season when facing red-hot Liverpool on Sunday. Jurgen Klopp’s side have been in imperious form this year, especially in front of goal. Their away form has also surged, with Liverpool scoring at least three goals in every road match they’ve played across all competitions this season.
Mohamed Salah has played a major part in their fortunes in the final third. The Egyptian notched goal of the season contenders against Manchester City and Watford before bagging a brace against Atletico Madrid midweek.
That has sparked a debate as to whether he or Cristiano Ronaldo can lay a claim to being the best in the world.
Solskjaer was asked about the conundrum in his pre-match press conference. Unsurprisingly, he opted for Ronaldo, though did express his admiration for Salah.
“I’ll always back Cristiano in any competition,” said Solskjaer (via the Manchester Evening News). “He’s unique and his goalscoring record has been fantastic but that being said Salah is at the moment on fire.
“You see some of the goals he’s scored lately, we know we have to be at our best to defend against him. Players like this don’t come along very often.
“We have to enjoy these players from afar, not Sunday, that’s too close. Got to do a good job not just against him.”
Solskjaer then admitted he is a fan of who Liverpool have fielded in the final third for “many years now”.
Along with Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino look back to their best, while Diogo Jota will be pushing for a start at Firmino’s expense.
“I’m a big admirer of the front line they’ve had for many years now,” added the Norwegian. “Mane, Firmino, maybe Jota will play, they are players you have to focus on and you have to be nailed on for 95 mins to keep a clean sheet.”
Solskjaer hails Man Utd’s most maligned player
One player who could have an important role to play on Sunday is Fred. The much maligned Brazilian has never been a fan favourite at Old Trafford, though does provide balance to the side given Solskjaer’s propenstiy to field an attacking front four.
Fred is seemingly a doubt for the contest after Solskjaer insisted he could be without “two or three”. Nonetheless, Solskjaer’s comments suggested Fred is in line to start if fit after waxing lyrical about his importance to the set-up.
“Fred is a very good player. He’s a regular for Brazil, which in itself is a mark of quality.
“He has got an exceptional personality and attitude to football, such a big smile, and at present, I can’t say if he’s going to be fit or not but he’ll give everything he can to be there for us.
“He’s sharp, he’s nimble, he gets to players, he’s never afraid. The development he’s made in the last two and a half years I’ve been here has been great to watch.
“It showed when he got injured last season, six to eight-week injury and he was back the day before the Europa League final, joined the training session, strapped him up for the game.
“If I’d known before maybe I’d have played him but he would put his hand up and sacrifice himself for the team, that’s for sure.”