Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has denied the notion that Manchester United are inconsistent and says reaching the top four this season would be a “great achievement”.
United go into their next game, against West Ham on Saturday, on the back of a 3-1 defeat to PSG in the Champions League. After four wins in a row before that, it was a reminder that the Red Devils are still a work in progress.
They head into Saturday’s clash four places below the Hammers in the table, although they do have a game in hand. Looking further up, they are five points adrift of league leaders Tottenham.
A win over David Moyes’ side would see them leapfrog their opponents and restore some optimism that may have faded after the loss to PSG. With that in mind, Solskjaer insists his team can be consistent and are performing well even when they lose.
Asked about their consistency at a press conference, he replied: “It depends on how many games do you want to go back?
“Football is a game with human beings and live their own lives, played some fantastic games. Go 40 games back we’re one of the most consistent in the Premier League.
“You’re disappointed when you lose and it’s fine margins at times that decide if you win or lose. The PSG game was miles better than West Brom, but you don’t get three points against PSG.
“We’re getting more less bad performances and getting more consistent. You can never control the result in the end, that’s decided by margins.”
If United are to compete in the Champions League again next season, they must put together a run of form to prove they are a top-four team.
That looked unlikely at times last season, before a strong end to the season – partially inspired by the winter arrival of Bruno Fernandes – helped them climb into the Champions League places.
This time around, Solskjaer still thinks reaching that target would be an achievement.
“Of course it would be for all sorts of reasons,” he said. “We know we’ve got a game less and hope we get that back at some point as well.
“And with pre-season being as short as it was to move closer to the top would be a great achievement at this point.
“We’ve shown some great consistency away from home lately and hope we can continue that.”
Cavani improving the squad
One player who could be crucial to United in their efforts to climb up the table is Edinson Cavani. The striker arrived from PSG, where he was all-time top scorer, on a free transfer in the summer.
Cavani got off the mark against Everton in November and followed it up with a match-winning brace against Southampton.
The Uruguayan is offering Solskjaer a different option up front with all his experience. The manager has now explained in more detail why he brought him to the club.
“Last season we were the youngest team in the Premier League and have been looking at ways to improve the squad, young talent or experienced ones and with the signings of Bruno, Donny [van de Beek] and Alex [Telles] and Edinson the balance of the squad has been improved and his positioning.
“He’s a different type of centre-forward, he can play a different way and his experience in world football. He’s come in and shows young lads how to live your life and last your career.”
Meanwhile, Solskjaer also provided an update on the fitness of Marcus Rashford. The forward left the defeat to PSG early with a shoulder problem.