Solskjaer admits City are ahead of United by a 'fair distance'

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admits bitter rivals Manchester City are a ‘fair distance’ ahead of his United side as he prepares for huge derby against the runaway leaders at the Etihad… but boss refuses to criticise Pep Guardiola for spending big

  • Manchester United face Premier League leaders City at the Etihad on Sunday
  • Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has admitted City are a ‘fair distance’ ahead of United
  • United’s title bid has faltered, with Pep Guardiola’s men now 14 points clear 
  • However, Solskjaer is pleased with his team’s progress and now wants a trophy
  • He refused to criticise City’s spending, but says United have their own ‘model’ 
  • Solskjaer revealed that Victor Lindelof is fit but Anthony Martial is a doubt

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admits that Manchester City are ‘a fair distance’ ahead of Manchester United as he adopted a philosophical approach ahead of Sunday’s Etihad derby.

Solskjaer resisted the temptation to build up his team before they face a City side who are 14 points ahead at the top of the table and on a 21-match unbeaten run in all competitions.

‘Our focus is just on this one game and not where we’re going to end up,’ said Solskjaer. ‘We just have to be the best possible Man United and try to improve on last season.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has admitted that Manchester City are a ‘fair distance’ ahead of United

City are 14 points clear of United at the top of the table after winning 21 consecutive matches

‘That means moving up the table, getting more points, hopefully challenge, get to a final and win a trophy.

‘What other teams do, we can’t control. They (City) are ahead of us by a fair distance and Sunday is a chance to test ourselves against a very good team.

‘They’re the only team ahead of us. We will try and claw back points and get closer to them. They have had a fantastic spell – 21 wins, we’ve had 21 away games unbeaten. One record is going to be broken, so let’s see which one it is.

‘There are still 11 games to go in the Premier League. I have always said let’s get to March April before we talk about title race after 18 or 19 games.

‘We’ve given ourselves a very good chance to improve. We would rather be in this position now than last season.

‘There are loads of quality teams in the Premier League. We know what we can control is ourselves. If we do our jobs and get as many points as we can do, we’ll be up there.

‘You’d like to win every game of football, but if you compare to last season, we’re quite a bit higher up in the league, still in Europe and the FA Cup.

Pep Guardiola’s men can take another giant step towards the title with a Manchester derby win

Dean Henderson makes a crucial late save to help earn United a draw away at Crystal Palace

‘It’s the league position you think that’s where we’ve shown progress. Hopefully we can prove we’ve taken another further step. We have more experience to be in this position than last season.’

United’s latest financial results on Thursday demonstrated the effects of the pandemic on even the richest clubs.

Solskjaer has already said that he will not have as much money for new signings this summer, and didn’t want to be drawn on comparisons with City’s spending power.

‘I only focus on what we do,’ he added. ‘We have our model and we as a club believe in a certain way to do it. We believe in a certain player to make us better, a certain person.

‘It’s not my place to comment on any other clubs and compare us with others. Every club do their own business their own way.’

United’s title bid has faltered and they now find themselves in a battle for a top four position

Solskjaer, pictured at Selhurst Park in midweek, is now preparing for a huge Manchester derby

United have been criticised for their performances against the established Big Six this season following five goalless draws, a 6-1 thrashing at the hands of Tottenham and a 1-0 defeat by Arsenal.

However, Solskjaer believes they have actually been more adventurous, adding: ‘We’ve looked at it. In a strange sort of way, you might not agree, we’ve been more positive.

‘We’ve been going high press on the front foot, trying to pin teams back. Last year maybe we relied more on the counter-attack, dropped deep and hung on, which as a coach or manager is the worst feeling ever.

‘So we have tried to go more positive. We have not been clinical or ruthless enough with the chances we’ve had. They have been tight games and it’s another test for us now, it’s another opportunity to put that right.’

The United manager confirmed that Victor Lindelof should be fit to face City, but Anthony Martial is a doubt and Paul Pogba has been ruled out.

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