OLE GUNNAR SOLSKJAER has warned his Manchester United stars: “Switch off for a split second you will be punished.”
United have kept just ONE clean sheet in their last 20 matches.
Man Utd manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has warned his players to play with concentrationCredit: EPA
And only a thrilling second-half comeback rescued a midweek Champions League victory over Atalanta after gifting the Italians a two-goal start.
So, on the eve of Sunday’s big Premier League showdown with bitter rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford, Solskjaer has given his troops a Fergie-style gee-up.
The Red Devils boss declared: “When Sir Alex Ferguson gave his team talks, he always said you have to play with concentration.
“That’s for 90-plus minutes in every game, every few days.
“We’re competing at such a high level in the Champions League and Premier League that if you switch off, if you nod off, for a split second you will be punished.
“That’s the difference between playing at this level and playing at the one below — focus and concentration.”
Solskjaer knows any lapses against a Liverpool side they have not beaten in six Prem games will be costly.
Not since beating Wolves 10 games ago have United kept a clean sheet.
And Solskjaer added: “We have conceded goals we could have avoided, definitely.
“Sometimes, like on Wednesday against Atalanta, they had two chances and scored two goals.
“But every team will create decent chances against you and we have to focus.
“If you give them ones through lack of concentration, that’s not good enough to be successful.”
We have conceded goals we could have avoided, definitely.”
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Last Saturday United were taken apart by Leicester, crashing 4-2, which ended their 29-match unbeaten away league record.
Solskjaer’s team have won just three of their last eight games.
It could have been even worse had Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea not been in such fine form.
And the Norwegian manager admitted: “We know we were too open against Leicester, we were too easy to cut through and we have conceded some bad counter-attack chances and goals lately.
United had to fight back from two goals down to beat AtalantaCredit: Reuters
“That’s something we work on — we have to put it right.
“If you’re going to be successful in any game, you cannot concede too many chances because eventually they’ll score.
“It’s about being on the front foot, being aggressive and winning tackles. And I think we showed a lot of that character and belief on Wednesday.”
Victory over Jurgen Klopp’s men will cut the gap between them to just a solitary point. Defeat, though, and it will increase to seven.
Solskjaer continued: “We have to take it from here and really, really get going.
“There’s no time to lose — because even though it’s a long season, the teams we’re competing against are not going to give you too many options to catch them.”
Against a Liverpool side back to the form that won the title two years ago — and with forward Mo Salah currently regarded as the world’s top player — tasks do not come much tougher than today’s.
Yet with Jadon Sancho steadily settling in, Marcus Rashford fit again and Edinson Cavani also available, Solskjaer thinks United have enough at the other end to frighten any opponent, adding: “Of course Cristiano Ronaldo has been here for a month, while Jadon has been here for two and although he’s English, he had not played in the Premier League before.
“He’s had moments with us that have had the crowd really on the edge of their seats. Can he add the next bit? Yes, I’m sure and he will do.
“Then we’ve got Marcus, who is just coming back, and Edinson, who had a longer run until he could join us.
“So it is exciting to have these types of players to work with and then it’s about finding the balance — so I would expect us to improve in the next couple of months, definitely.”
Fingers crossed for Ole that they do so before the others have disappeared over the hill.
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