Man United Recreating Habit Of Winning Games Late, Says Solskjaer

Manchester United’s English striker Marcus Rashford (L) reacts after scoring the opening goal as Manchester United’s French midfielder Paul Pogba (C) chases him during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on December 29, 2020. Michael Regan / POOL / AFP

 

Manchester United manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes his side are recreating the old habit of winning games late following Marcus Rashford’s extra-time winner against Wolves in a Premier League tie on Tuesday.

“It’s one of the points we brought up early in the season, that we didn’t win many points towards the end of games,” the Norwegian said after the team’s 1-0 win over Nuno Espirito Santo’s men that catapulted them to second and within two points of leaders Liverpool.

“We have a tradition for it at this club. Obviously we’ve normally got many more supporters helping us to do that.

“Now we’ve won many more points towards the end of games and that’s both a mental aspect and a physical aspect.”

Labouring Hard

United laboured for long spells against a youthful Wolves side despite having a day’s extra rest than the visitors, who were in action just 48 hours previously against Tottenham.

But Solskjaer described snatching victory from an uninspired performance as a “big step forward” as United beat Wolves for the first time in five meetings between the sides since Nuno Espirito Santo’s men returned to the top flight two-and-a-half-years ago.

“We didn’t perform as well as we want to do but we win a game against a very difficult side to play against,” added Solskjaer.

“We’ve struggled against them, this is the first win in the league. We’ve played them seven times (over the past three seasons) and there has never been many goals in the games.

“This is a big step forward that you don’t perform, but you still win.”

Manchester United’s English defender Luke Shaw (bottom) tackles Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Spanish midfielder Adama Traore (C) during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Old Trafford in Manchester, north-west England, on December 29, 2020. Laurence Griffiths / POOL / AFP

 

United’s victory continues an excellent run of 23 points from the last possible 27 to mount a title challenge that looked unlikely after winning just two of their opening six league games.

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Solskjaer’s men host Aston Villa on New Year’s Day before travelling to face Liverpool on January 17, in a match which could have huge ramifications on the title race.

“We cannot get too far ahead of ourselves,” said Solskjaer. “We’ve got to a decent position at the moment but we are not even halfway, there is a long, long way to go.”

A Cruel Defeat

Defeat was harsh on Wolves, who competed manfully given the tight turnaround for two hugely demanding fixtures.

However, the visitors again lacked a goal threat in the absence of Raul Jimenez, who is expected to miss much of the rest of the season due to a fractured skull.

“This is football and a learning process,” said Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo. “It’s cruel in the moment but you can’t stay feeling sorry. You have to move forward.”

Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Portuguese head coach Nuno Espirito Santo during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Old Trafford in Manchester, north-west England, on December 29, 2020.
Martin Rickett / POOL / AFP

 

The last clash between the sides at Old Trafford in February was Bruno Fernandes’s debut for United.

The Portuguese has had a transformative impact on the United’s fortunes, but he could not beat international teammate Patricio with by far the hosts’ best chance of the first-half as he snuck in at the back post to meet Mason Greenwood’s cross.

Solskjaer lauded Edinson Cavani’s predatory instincts on the eve of the game, suggesting the Uruguayan will be handed an extension to his contract for next season.

The 33-year-old did find the net with his only chance 20 minutes from time but was offside as the ball broke his way from a corner.

Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (L) celebrates with Manchester United’s Serbian midfielder Nemanja Matic (C) and Manchester United’s French midfielder Paul Pogba after the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on December 29, 2020. Martin Rickett / POOL / AFP

 

Instead, it was Rashford who made the telling impact as he raced onto Fernandes’s hopeful long ball over the top.

The England international cut inside, but Patricio looked to have his shot covered until it hit Saiss and flew in at the near post.

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