After punching their ticket to the Europa League final in midweek, Manchester United have ensured a top-four finish for the 2020/21 season with yet another come from behind victory, this time winning 3-1 over Aston Villa at Villa Park.
Despite being behind in the match, Manchester United again managed to come back from behind and claim all three points away from home, much to the delight of manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Goals from Bruno Fernandes, Mason Greenwood and Edinson Cavani ensured United headed home with a 3-1 win from the Midlands. Given their heavy fixture schedule, the boss was even more thrilled.
Come From Behind Win - Again
United have picked up a staggering 31 points from losing positions this season, something that has delighted the manager.
“Yeah, sometimes, you know, you want to up the tempo a bit. I was confident. I was very confident. I felt we played okay in the first half, we created chances but didn’t take them. They didn’t have too much, Dean [Henderson] didn’t have too much to do but it was a very good goal. You can’t stop those quality moments. It was just about confidence, believing in what we are doing and they showed that in abundance.”
Away Form Continues
With their away form the catalyst for a second-place finish in the Premier League, the manager was delighted to pick up three points after also travelling to Rome earlier in the week.
“It's always going to be difficult after you’ve been in Europe, in Rome. We didn’t come back until half past four/five o’clock in the morning [on] Friday. I can’t blame them, the advantage of being fresh going into a game like this is quite high and it’s just coincidence that tells you we could have scored the first goal once or twice before they scored. They scored from nothing – a good goal by the way – but I’m pleased with everyone. I know how hard it is towards the end of a long season.”
Squad Spirits Are High
With the wins piling up and both Mason Greenwood and Edinson Cavani in red-hot form, the spirit in the squad is high as the team looks forward to the Europa League final.
“Mason’s turn and finish was absolutely top. The boy is learning. He’s learned the hard way and he’s got to play, he’s learning on the job. It is the intensity of this league, it’s high, and he had a hard game on Thursday and plays today and produces that goal. Well done. More to come, definitely. One hundred per cent. The boy is learning, hungry to learn and his desire and attitude is improving all the time.”
“His movement, his desire to score goals, it's a great cross from Marcus. We’re getting to learn [about] Edinson as well and hopefully we can use him more next season.”
“We’ve got a final to look forward to. The boys are learning and getting better and better as a group, as a unit, and the spirit in the group is getting better. You can hear them in the crowd, supporting their team-mates. These eight days, we knew the squad had to come together and everyone has got to be available to play, they have to play, and they’ve been excellent.”
Rotation The Key
As the campaign comes to a close, there are still plenty of tricky fixtures to be negotiated, meaning rest and rotation will be key as the squad look to arrive in tip-top shape for the Europa League final.
With a game on Tuesday against Leicester, who need points to secure their own Champions League position, a much-changed line-up will take to the pitch at Old Trafford.
“I think everyone is capable of doing a Thursday-Sunday. But to put in Tuesday is more or less demanding too much of them. Adding Thursday is impossible - absolutely physically impossible. So I have to now make sure that I don’t run the risk of getting injuries. So recovery time, more or less all the time you have, two days in between and play on the third day. At this level, it is impossible. The boys who played Thursday night and today will not play 90 minutes on Tuesday, for sure.”
“There’s no training. It’s [in the] classroom. Now you’re a teacher. It’s the sports scientists - they do their job, they have all the facilities and have the help that the players can get. We will sit down on Tuesday afternoon and see who is ready. I can have a picture in my mind now theoretically, but it might be that things could crop up tomorrow after this game that we don’t know until tomorrow.”
“Sometimes the player you leave out can come onto the pitch and win you a final. That’s no problem; I’d rather have that than have not enough. From personal experience, it is hard to not play in finals. But when you come on, you do your bit. I think Mason has done it so many times for us, and Edinson has done it so many times. Marcus has done it so many times - he came on against Leipzig and scored three. Hopefully we will get Anthony fit as well,” concluded Solskjaer.