Football

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer seeks response from wounded Man United

United boss says Manchester Derby comes at the perfect time

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has demanded a strong reaction from his players in the Manchester Derby at Old Trafford tomorrow morning (Singapore time).

Much more than local pride is at stake with title-chasing Manchester City knowing they can go top of the standings with a win and United, who were thrashed 4-0 by Everton on Sunday, fighting to get into the top four and qualify for next season's Champions League.

MAN UNITED MAN CITY

United's initial upturn in form after Solskjaer took charge has quickly faded with the team suffering six defeats in their last eight games in all competitions, culminating in the meek surrender at Goodison Park .

The trouncing by the Toffees means that the Red Devils have conceded 48 goals, their worst defensive record in a league season in 40 years.

In the aftermath, Solskjaer slammed his players and apologised to the club's fans, but he said yesterday that the derby is the perfect occasion for a quick bounce back.

"That's the best game we could ask for with players hurt as they definitely were. We had a meeting after the game and all the players were definitely disappointed and really, really hurt by that performance. The City game is the perfect one," he told a news conference.

"There's no hiding place on the pitch and the fans will back you if you give that effort against a City side that's been very, very good.

"We have got to turn up.

"The response has to be there, you have to try and provoke or inspire a reaction and we haven't had time to work on the pitch because you need recovery at this stage of the season, so it's about changing mindsets and making sure heads are ready."

The Norwegian, who replaced the sacked Jose Mourinho initially on an interim basis in December and was then handed a three-year contract last month, has been clear that he intends to make changes to his squad at the end of the season.

However, the 46-year-old said he did see promise in some of his current crop.

"Of course, you learn about players and now is not the time to talk about making wholesale changes in the squad that's been doing so great. (Only) City and Liverpool have taken more points than us in the last 18 games," he said.

"You can see loads of Manchester United standards, the DNA in these players, you have to get players in and some players will go out."

CONFIDENT IN MYSELF

He also insisted that he is the right man to take the club forward.

"Well I would like to say yes but it's not down to me to say that," Solskjaer said.

"I'm confident in my team and myself. I'll be ready to take this challenge on.

"I know it's a big challenge and that's why, when I came in here, I said I'm going to enjoy every single second.

"I don't like losing but it's a challenge all the managers at this club have had.

"When you go through bad results, you've got to be confident enough to say this is the way we're going to do it and plan ahead."

His star midfielder Paul Pogba, meanwhile, said United's players did not respect the club or their fans during the defeat by Everton.

"The way we played and the performance of myself, of the team, of everyone is disrespectful," he told Sky Sports.

"We didn't respect ourselves, the club or the fans.

"It's not good at all what we did. Losing a game is something really bad that we don't want when we are in the race for the top four and losing 4-0 as well.

"Everything went wrong but the most important thing is the mentality that we put on the pitch, that has to change...

"What we did on the pitch is not respectful for the team mates, for the staff, for the people, for the kit man, for everyone."

Pogba said the only way the squad could apologise to the fans was to give them a reaction on the pitch in their upcoming games, starting with the Manchester Derby.

"The fans want a reaction from the players and the only way to apologise to them is to give everything on the pitch." - REUTERS, AFP

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