Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has told his Manchester United players to challenge for a top-four place this season, but warned them only fighting for titles will be truly “special”.
Bruno Fernandes’ double and Mason Greenwood’s opener at the Amex Stadium has put them within two points of the Champions League places, which appeared out of reach earlier in the campaign.
They are unbeaten since mid-January, before football’s closure for the coronavirus pandemic, and have carried on that fine run of form since returning.
“It’s been good since the restart, everyone has worked really hard and we agreed before the lockdown what we were going to do and everyone was true to their word and came back fitter and stronger and we are ready to keep pushing on and challenging the teams in front of us,” Solskjaer said.
“We’re too far away to be on the road to something special (this season) because special for this club is not where we are. But the team is improving, we’re in with a shout for the Champions League next year and we still have the FA Cup and Europa League to play and the team is improving, the players are coming back and the style is better.”
Solskjaer says he would have been proud of Greenwood’s opener; the 19 year-old honing his manager’s old trick of finishing through an opponents’ legs.
Mason Greenwood means business! 🔥
He gives Manchester United the lead in style...🎯
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“I would have been proud of that,” Solskjaer admitted. “He’s got a knack of that. He can go inside or outside, he’s just as good with his right foot as his left, so he’s developing into a fine player.
“He’s a special talent, a special kid that we are going to look after, try to develop into a top, top player. He’s doing well now but he is still young and has things to learn. He knows that but we have a special talent there we have to nurture.”
Fernandes believes this team deserve a top-four finish with the way they have improved and are now playing.
Premier League 2019/20 latest standings (top six)
“We are fighting for a place in the Champions League and we know we can achieve this,” said the Portugal midfielder. “We want to be in the first places and in the Champions League next year.”
Solskjaer believes he has match-winners throughout his team now. “I think it's very important you have players who chip in, Marcus (Rashford) and Anthony (Martial) have 19 each, Bruno's come in, Mason's chipped in, Paul (Pogba) will get goals, Scott McTominay and Dan James were close, Odion Ighalo is important. We had Ruud (van Nistelrooy), Cristiano (Ronaldo), but always had other players who can also win a game for you.”