Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has piled praise on Jesse Lingard following his return to form and has suggested it had been a difficult year for the attacking midfielder off the field.
A week that started with scrutiny and mounting pressure on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the wake of an alarming home draw with promoted Aston Villa ended with a second memorable victory in a matter of days.
Fresh from deservedly seeing off Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham 2-1 on Wednesday evening, United won by the same scoreline across town at the Etihad Stadium thanks to a roaring start and impressive game plan.
Solskjaer was proud of United’s performance at the Etihad Stadium, where they displayed the “quick, attacking football” he always knew his side were capable of in the right shape.
The Norwegian also praised their “great character and attitude” on an afternoon when missiles were aimed at Fred, who produced his best performance in a red shirt.
The Brazil midfielder was also subjected to alleged racist abuse along with Lingard, who again showed he is getting back to his best at the end of a tough year.
“He’s Man United through and through,” Solskjaer said of Lingard. “He’s a red, he’s got a great attitude and a great workrate.
“Every one of us have things to deal with on and off the pitch and what he has had to deal with, that will be between us. It’s great to see him back.”
Put to Solskjaer that fans do not see off-field issues, he said: “Exactly. That’s the privilege some people think they have.
“You can criticise anyone about anything but, for me as a manager, I have to look after these boys in the good and the bad times.
“It’s great to work with him. I had him in the reserves, I gave him his debut in the reserves against Burnley. It’s good to see him back to his old self.”
The City boss said: “United have the quality to defend and the quality to attack on the counter-attack and you have to accept that.
“That is the level we face against Liverpool, United, Barcelona, Madrid, Juventus, they are the teams we have to face and the reality is maybe we are not able now to compete with them.
“We have to improve and accept it and move forward. Maybe we need to live that as a club to improve, to accept the reality now and improve.”