Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has set Scott McTominay a goals target for the rest of the season, while praising fellow Manchester United midfielder Fred ahead of his 100th game for the club.
McTominay and Fred have both been key players for Solskjaer this season. They have started 14 Premier League games each.
The former in particular has made his influence felt recently. McTominay has scored in each of his last three appearances across all competitions.
It has taken his tally up to seven goals for the season – already matching all of his previous campaigns for the club put together.
Solskjaer believes McTominay’s contribution in attack has been crucial for United this season, and wants to see him add even more.
“Of course, to add goals from midfield is vital,” Solskjaer said. “Last season our three forwards were brilliant and really efficient and scored goals – 60 odd – and Bruno [Fernandes] came in and scored goals.
“We need more goals from midfield and Scott does have that ability to go box to box. He’s a threat inside the box and he used to be a striker.
“I think for us to move up the league and be successful in the cups, we need our forwards to keep on firing – getting more goals – and I wouldn’t mind some midfielders adding a few.
“If Scott can get into double figures then that would be a very good season for a so-called defensive midfielder.”
Brazil international Fred has often been deployed alongside McTominay in midfield. On Sunday, he is in line for his 100th appearance for United when they face West Brom.
It took Fred some time to settle in at Old Trafford, but now he is an important player. Solskjaer, though, refused to take any credit for how the player has progressed.
“He’s really done well,” Solskjaer said. “I’ve enjoyed working with him these past couple of seasons.
“When I came he was a boy who was struggling a little bit. I got numerous questions about Fred in press conferences early on. As I said then, players coming into a new country, it takes time to settle – and it took some time for Fred to settle.
“When he has now, he’s grown in confidence. There’s less time in the Premier League than what he was used to. He’s quickened up his game, he’s not getting caught on the ball.
“I’m not going to take any credit for that of course. It’s the coaches – I think Michael Carrick and Kieran [McKenna], they’ve been brilliant with him, but it’s Fred himself who has had the hunger and humility to learn and want to improve, stick at it and keep working.
“There are not a lot of people who can say they’ve played 100 games for Manchester United. Hopefully there will be many more to come – and hopefully he will score from outside the box soon but I’m not sure it’s going to be with his right [foot]. I’ve tried to tell him.”
Solskjaer asked what makes season successful
United are currently second in the Premier League table, which they topped themselves for a brief period earlier this year.
They also have the Europa League to compete in and have reached the FA Cup quarter-finals. Solskjaer will be hoping any of the three avenues could lead to his first trophy as United boss.
Asked what would make this a successful season, he said: “You go into every season trying to improve and if you improve that’s a step forward.
“Is it a big enough step forward? We’ll have to see at the end, if we end up with trophies.
“We’re still in competitions. Yes, we lost in the semis in the Carabao Cup. We’re in the quarters of the FA Cup, we’re still in Europe and we’re second in the league.
“So at the moment it looks like we’ve improved, but we’re going into the deciding period of the season so it’s now that we’ve got to kick on and keep our consistency and get the quality higher, eradicate some of the mistakes we’re making and be more clinical in front of goal.
“I don’t want to say what a successful season is at the moment, but we have the chance to end this season with the feeling that it’s been successful, if we improve, because I think we’ve shown qualities that can win us trophies.”