Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer remains upbeat about his team's top-four chances as he defended their mentality after Monday's last-gasp 2-2 Premier League draw with Southampton.

In-form United missed the chance to go third in the table after conceding a 96th-minute equaliser to substitute Michael Obafemi and Southampton at Old Trafford.

After rivals Chelsea and Leicester City both lost over the weekend, United had a golden opportunity to boost their Champions League qualification hopes on matchday 35.

Having fallen behind to a Stuart Armstrong strike, United looked on track to leapfrog Leicester and Chelsea thanks to quick-fire goals from Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial prior to half-time.

But United were unable to hold on against a tenacious Southampton side, who restored parity in the sixth minute of additional time following a head injury to substitute Brandon Williams, which left the Red Devils down to 10 men.

Solskjaer, however, defended his United team after they ended the match level on points with fourth-placed Leicester and one adrift of Chelsea in third.

"Absolutely not," Solskjaer told reporters when asked if United have a mental block, having failed to capitalise on Chelsea's slip-up. "I don't think any of our players have though, 'Oh what have Chelsea done this weekend'. Not at all.

"It's just the way the games go and we all play against the same teams and we've all got 38 games to get through and it'll even itself out over the long season. You deserve the position you get in the end."

Solskjaer, whose United extended their unbeaten run to 18 matches across all competitions, added: "I have to say the mentality of the boys has been brilliant. We've had a few setbacks over the season, of course. This is another challenge for us.

"I'm very confident in the mentality of them, very disappointed of course. But you have to take the disappointment as well as the positives when you win games. It's disappointing when you concede with the last kick of the ball, lose two points.

"It's just part of football and we've learned a hard lesson today hopefully. We'll make it right, we'll put it right. I trust the boys in that respect."

Solskjaer is also hoping for "good news" after full-back Luke Shaw was forced off with an ankle injury in the 75th minute – replaced by Williams.

United are next in action on Thursday as they travel to Crystal Palace.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer accepts a win would have flattered Manchester United after Southampton secured a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford thanks to a last-gasp equaliser on Monday. 

Ralph Hasenhuttl's Saint's produced a valiant display against an in-form United, deservedly going ahead early on through Stuart Armstrong. 

However, they found themselves trailing at the break after Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial each found the net, though both could have increased their respective tallies in the second half. 

Southampton – who were perhaps fortunate not to have Oriol Romeu sent off – pushed forward towards the end, and - shortly after a head injury to Brandon Williams left the hosts down to 10 men - Michael Obafemi struck deep into stoppage time.

The equaliser means United stay fifth instead of going third in the Premier League table, though Solskjaer could not deny Saints were good value for a point. 

"Well, it's the worst time to concede a goal, but then that happens in football, you've got to be strong and take it because we've won so many games that way ourselves," Solskjaer told Sky Sports. 

"It's all part of the learning for this team, to be sat there disappointed after you'd thought three points in the bag. We probably didn't deserve three points. 

"Southampton are a good team, they deserved to get something from the game. They played well, they're a physical and very fit side, they run, chase, and we never got the rhythm in our passing, especially after going 2-1. 

"We can play better, but we created chances, played fantastic football at times. Anthony has got two massive chances he creates for himself, and the two goals are very good." 

Solskjaer named the same starting XI for a fifth Premier League match in succession, though dismissed the idea fatigue played a part in giving up a lead so late in proceedings. 

"I don't think that's the case, we've had enough recovery, it was just one of those days - we didn't take chances, they took theirs right at the end," he said. 

"David [De Gea] had one really good save, apart from that we created the better chances, we could have had the three points, but then again you're not going to be given three points, you're going to play sides that show what they can do. Southampton are a good side." 

Solskjaer refused to criticise the officials and the video assistant referee (VAR) for the failure to send Romeu off for his ugly challenge on Mason Greenwood, though he did express a degree of displeasure with the incident. 

"I know my ankle wouldn't take that as a nice one," he said. "It was a nasty one, but we've said enough about VAR." 

Manchester United missed the chance to go third in the Premier League as a last-gasp Michael Obafemi equaliser secured Southampton a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford on Monday. 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men went into the contest in fine form but struggled to control proceedings against the tenacious Saints, who levelled in the sixth minute of additional time. 

A busy start from Southampton led to the visitors taking an early lead through Stuart Armstrong but United hit back, Anthony Martial teeing up Marcus Rashford for the equaliser before scoring his 50th Premier League goal to put the hosts in front. 

United had chances to increase their lead but failed to take them, and Obafemi scored from close range right near the end, leaving the Red Devils fifth in the table. 

Their destiny in the Champions League remains in United's hands - they go to fourth-placed Leicester City on the final day of the season - but this result is a major blow for Solskjaer. 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has named the same Manchester United starting XI for a fifth successive Premier League match as Southampton visit Old Trafford, with David de Gea reaching a personal landmark and Mason Greenwood closing in on an historic record. 

United have recorded five straight victories in all competitions since a 1-1 league draw at Tottenham upon English football's resumption 

Key to those successes have been the midfield trio of Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes, while Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood have led the line to good effect. 

Greenwood has been particularly prominent since the Premier League returned, the 18-year-old scoring four goals in his three most recent matches. 

Those have taken him to 16 for the season across all competitions, putting him just one off the club record for goals scored by a teenager in a single campaign, with George Best, Wayne Rooney and Brian Kidd having hit 17 each.

As for De Gea, the Spanish goalkeeper is selected to make his 400th appearance for United, who can go third in the table if they win at home.

Much like their opponents, Saints have also hit a groove of late and come into this fixture unbeaten in three. 

Ralph Hasenhuttl names the same starting XI for a third game on the bounce, with the in-form Danny Ings – who has scored four goals in his previous five outings – leading the line and continuing his bid for the Premier League Golden Boot.

Nemanja Matic believes in-form Manchester United team-mate Anthony Martial is on course to become one of the best strikers in the world. 

Martial has scored 20 goals in a season for the first time since joining United in a big-money move from Monaco in 2015. 

The France international has played a major part in the Red Devils' resurgence this term, claiming the first hat-trick of his career in the Premier League victory over Sheffield United last month. 

Martial has not consistently hit the heights and suffered injury problems during his time at Old Trafford, though has shown what he can produce during United's 17-match unbeaten run. 

Midfielder Matic says the 24-year-old deserves huge credit for his desire to improve and feels there is still more to come. 

He told Stats Perform News: "A good game for one football player doesn't come [just] like that. It's hard work. 

"Anthony [Martial], in the last year or year and a half, I have seen him working a lot, trying to improve in every part of the game. 

"Of course, then on the pitch that gives you more and you deserve it. Anthony is doing great. In training sessions, he is fighting for every ball, trying to help team-mates. 

"Even when we don't have the ball he's trying to defend. He's doing fantastic. I think that if he continues like this, he'll be one of the best strikers or attacking players in the world. 

"[He is] still young, still young I have to say, [there's] still a lot to improve and time works for him, so he just needs to continue to work like this." 

Frank Lampard insists he never pinned Chelsea's Champions League qualification hopes on Manchester City not being allowed to compete in UEFA competition.

City were handed a €30million fine and two-year ban from the Champions League and Europa League by UEFA in February due to alleged "serious breaches" of club licencing and financial fair play (FFP) regulations.

But the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled in City's favour on Monday following the club's appeal, meaning the 2018-19 Premier League champions will be able to compete in UEFA competition next season, while their fine was reduced to €10m.

The CAS decision will also have serious ramifications in the Premier League, as fifth-place will no longer be good enough for Champions League qualification, as it had looked set to be with City – who sit second in the table – out of the picture.

Six points separate five teams in the race for the second two spots in the top four, and although a Manchester United win over Southampton on Monday will elevate them to third and above Chelsea, Lampard remains relaxed about the situation.

"I was pretty neutral on it [the City verdict] really," Lampard told reporters ahead of Tuesday's visit of already-relegated Norwich City. "I didn't know much about the case, I just looked at the result of it this morning.

"I don't see beyond the games in hand, we want to win them. I was never pinning my hopes on it, we just looked at ourselves.

"My only concern are the games ahead. We are at a critical stage of the season. We know what is in front of us. We have to try to finish the job.

"We are sitting third, it is in our hands. This morning has just made it clear now and we have to fight for it."

Lampard will hope the visit of struggling Norwich provides some relief and respite for Chelsea, who have been erratic this month.

After enjoying a three-match winning streak after the season's resumption in June, Chelsea have since lost two of their past four, including a dire 3-0 defeat at fellow European hopefuls Sheffield United last time out.

While Lampard says he has tried to not dwell on that loss, he did acknowledge changes are likely.

"Possibly, [but] I don't want to give my starting XI away," he said. "While I have to consider the freshness of the team, we are trying to get the balance of the side as well.

"Sheffield United have taken big teams all the way this year. I won't dwell on the game, it can happen to any team. It's something we don't like, but we are striving to be better and it is important for that.

"I don't have a set way of dealing with it, just how I see fit. I like to watch games back. The players could feel they weren't at their best, we are moving on and we have a positive feeling in the camp.

"If you don't turn up and perform, it doesn't matter about momentum, but having good home form gives us confidence. Norwich - we have to treat them with utmost respect. They can feel unfortunate with some of their results."

Leicester City's shock 4-1 defeat at Bournemouth on Sunday at least ensured Chelsea will remain in the top four regardless of United's result against Saints.

Similarly, on paper the Foxes have the trickiest run-in of the three teams as well, as they have to face the Blades, Tottenham and then Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men on the final day of the season.

'Next Generation' is a series focusing on the young players tipped to establish themselves as the elite in the 2020s.


There had already been murmurings of a potential superstar coming through Manchester United's academy, but in December 2018, the noise around Mason Greenwood became that bit louder.

Chelsea had been unbeaten in the FA Youth Cup since 2013 before Greenwood was unleashed on them, the then-17-year-old netting a hat-trick in a 4-3 win.

That treble showcased much of what is deemed special about Greenwood. For his first, he chased down the goalkeeper, forced an error and then showed composure to fire past him and a defender on the line.

He doubled his tally from just inside the area, racing on to a throughball and coolly placing a right-footed effort into the bottom-right corner after creating space with a stepover.

His hat-trick was completed with another fine effort. After beating a defender to an underhit pass, he ran at the centre-back, darted to his left and picking out the far corner with his left foot.

Work-rate, close control, exceptional finishing and remarkable ability on either foot – it was all evidence of a complete centre-forward in-the-making.

Fittingly, Greenwood's dazzling display came the day after Jose Mourinho's final match in charge of the first-team – the teenager's promise a hopeful ray of sunshine in an otherwise gloomy period for the club.

Matic in awe of teenager

Fast-forward 19 months, Greenwood has played 42 times for United in 2019-20, while his recent form has led to suggestions he will surely be in England's squad for the delayed European Championships next year.

Not only has Greenwood made a strong impression on fans and pundits, but his team-mates are also well aware of his prodigious talents. Nemanja Matic has seen a particularly significant development in him this year alone.

Matic told Stats Perform News: "There are not many players his age of that level – he has this natural instinct for goals.

"There is a big difference from now from to six months ago. He is young and he is changing, and his approach to training and to everything is different. He's a great person, great for the changing room.

"He is quiet, I have to say, but the boy is always very positive and we are happy to have him in the team."

Mourinho's ousting and the appointment of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who had previously coached young players at the club, was seen as a potentially critical moment for the next generation coming through at Old Trafford.

While it's impossible to know how Greenwood's career would have progressed with Mourinho, it is fair to suggest he wouldn't have given him his first-team debut in a Champions League knockout clash away to Paris Saint-Germain with United chasing a goal to secure an historic turnaround.

Greenwood then made his first start on the final day of the 2018-19 season. Although United suffered a dire 2-0 home defeat to relegated Cardiff City, the teenager was comfortably the best player on the pitch.

From that point, it almost seemed a certainty Greenwood was to become a regular squad member this term, and he's finally cemented a place on the right side of the attack since football's resumption.

The new Van Persie? Or Robben?

Greenwood's build, running style and technique have drawn understandable comparisons with former United star Robin van Persie, though he reminds Matic more of another Dutchman.

"I don't want to put too much pressure on the lad, but if I had to say someone [Greenwood reminds me of], it would be [Arjen] Robben," Matic said.

However, some might argue Greenwood is poised to become even more of a nuisance to defenders given his unpredictable skillset – after all, much has been said about Greenwood's ambipedal abilities, and in the United youth teams he was known to take free-kicks and penalties with either foot.

While being "two-footed" is by no means a rare concept, Greenwood does appear to be a special case. His recent goals against Bournemouth and Aston Villa are proof of that, with the England Under-21 international hitting two ferocious efforts into the net with his supposedly weaker right foot.

Such unpredictability can only help Greenwood, while Matic also feels having someone like Marcus Rashford in the team will give the teenager a good example to follow.

"I think that when he has seen players who came through the academy, he has seen Marcus as a role model and he has tried to follow those steps, it was easier too for him to see that someone can achieve big things coming from the academy, so I am happy for him," he added.

Best and Rooney in touching distance

"It is important to have players from the academy," continued Matic, a firm believer of giving opportunities to youngsters. "They are making big players, good people, it's important they are good people for the changing room."

But the Serbian stressed the need for those players to be ready for the opportunities, adding: "The expectation from our fans is high and they have to be ready to play at the highest level."

It's fair to say no one is doubting Greenwood's credentials anymore, and the data highlights his impressive early impact.

With 16 goals, he is United's third-highest scorer this term behind Rashford and Anthony Martial, both of whom have 20, but Greenwood nets with a more impressive frequency at one every 129 minutes (Rashford – 142 mins, Martial – 147).

His conversion rate of 22 percent is identical to Martial's and an improvement on Rashford's 17 per cent, but it's in the expected goals (xG) metric where Greenwood's finishing abilities are best highlighted.

From the chances that have fallen to him, Greenwood would ordinarily be expected to have scored eight times this season, but his actual goals haul is double that.

By comparison, Martial's xG is five under his actual total at 15 and Rashford's is 23, three higher than the 20 he has scored.

Add to that, he is just two goals shy of setting a new record for goals scored by a teenager for United in a single season (George Best, Brian Kidd and Wayne Rooney all got 17).

"The players that have come through, Marcus and Mason, they have come with a lot of qualities and are ready at the highest level and [this] shows the academy can work well."

Matic's assessment appears to be on the money – as does Greenwood.

Paul Pogba feels like Manchester United are "a proper team" again and does not think the club can be stopped if they continue on their current path.

United, who are unbeaten in 17 matches across all competitions, have the chance to go third in the Premier League when they host Southampton on Monday.

Potential silverware in the FA Cup and Europa League is also up for grabs before the end of the season, with Pogba relishing their improvement under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

While United are not yet where they want to be, the France international is sure they will get there.

"It is about the team – you can call it a proper team," Pogba, who scored his first goal in over a year against Aston Villa last time out, said to United Review.

"Sometimes before, we were maybe too defensive or too offensive and we didn't have this balance or this control; now you can see we have that balance.

"There is more structure and we have been working hard on that. The improvement is huge, and you can tell that.

"It is always good to have that improvement, but you don't want to stop it, you know you have to keep working.

"There is a lot of stuff to do, we are not there yet but we are on the way, and if we keep doing what we are doing now, then I think there is nothing that can stop us to get to where we should be."

Weekend defeats for Chelsea and Leicester City boosted United's chances of Champions League qualification, but Pogba is laser-focused on their own results.

"We have to think about us, to be honest," he said of the top-four battle. "If we win all our games, I don't think we have something to worry about.

"You have to win. We don't think about other teams or other results, we have to focus on ourselves."

Despite the tight battle for places in the league, the opportunity for silverware is a key focus for Pogba.

He added: "United is about trophies, we know that, and there are trophies we know we can get, and we can win.

"We don't want to let this opportunity go away. We are going to do our best to go and get those two trophies by giving everything.

"Every game is a final and we have to get the result that we need. That is the mindset. It is never enough for us, we have to carry on, keep fighting and keep pushing yourself to get better and better."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer never considered dropping David de Gea as the Manchester United manager backed the long-serving goalkeeper for another decade at the highest level in his quest for "big trophies" at Old Trafford.

De Gea surpassed Peter Schmeichel to become the overseas player with the most United appearances after playing his 399th match in Thursday's 3-0 Premier League win at relegation-threatened Aston Villa.

Despite the landmark moment, De Gea's future has been debated due to a number of mistakes and the form of Sheffield United loanee Dean Henderson this season.

But United manager Solskjaer was full of praise for De Gea, who has won the Premier League, Europa League, FA Cup and EFL Cup among other honours since arriving from Atletico Madrid in 2011.

"It did not cross my mind for one second," said Solskjaer when asked if he had considered dropping De Gea ahead of Monday's showdown with Southampton. "Not at all. To be a Man Utd goalkeeper you have to have a strong mentality. David has a strong mentality and he has been here for so long that he is coming up to 400 games, and you don't do that by being afraid of the limelight or being afraid of Old Trafford.

"You do that by walking out on to that pitch and showing them your quality and mentality and he is a strong character and I didn't see any good in taking him out at all, no."

Solskjaer, whose United have not won the Premier League since Alex Ferguson's final season in 2012-13, added: "David has been fantastic and since I have been here I have enjoyed working with him.

"He has come out and said that he wants to play many, many more, maybe 10 more years, how long will he be able to stay at the top is just up to him because it's a pleasure to watch him being humble enough to work hard."

"He's won the Premier League, he's won the FA Cup, the Europa League, the League Cup, but that is probably not enough for him," continued Solskjaer. "I don't think he will be happy until he wins the bigger trophies, and staying at Man United in this time and they are not having one more, I think that's something that he will feel is a black dot in his career.

"Yeah, he's won his personal awards, I don't think David is that type who cares about personal awards, I think he wants the team to lift big trophies as well."

United are in the midst of a 17-match unbeaten streak across all competitions as they look to capitalise on a favourable weekend of results in the Premier League in the race for Champions League qualification.

Chelsea and Leicester City both lost, meaning in-form United can move third in the table with three games remaining if they beat Southampton at Old Trafford.

Nemanja Matic is enthused by the young talent that has fired Manchester United's revival but believes more improvement is needed to challenge for the Premier League title.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side are enjoying an unbeaten run in all competitions that stretches back to January 22.

Since the Premier League's return from lockdown, United have been in electrifying form, with breakout displays from teenage forward Mason Greenwood and Bruno Fernandes' galvanising effect to the fore.

Matic claimed Premier League glory in 2014-15 and 2016-17 at Chelsea and feels United and their exciting attack must continue to realise their potential more fully if they are to dethrone Liverpool.

"I have to be honest: it was not always easy to be in our team because we had a lot of young players, with no experience of playing at the highest level," he told Stats Perform News.

"But that was a period of transition of our team and I think in the last few years many players matured a lot.

"I have to mention [Marcus] Rashford, [Anthony] Martial, Greenwood, so many players matured a lot. They know they have a lot of responsibility; they play every game.

"I am happy to see them improving, taking responsibility and I am sure this team can only improve.

"It was difficult for us in the past because we were inconsistent, but I think the team is ready, more experienced. If we can improve 10 or 20 per cent more then we can challenge for the title next season."

Chelsea's 3-0 defeat at Sheffield United on Saturday has left the door ajar to the top four and United will go above Frank Lampard's men if they beat Southampton on Monday.

"We are fighting, we are playing, we want to finish in the top four. There are only four games left but we are there," Matic said.

"We are fighting with Chelsea and Leicester [City] for that position, we know it's going to be hard, but we will try and win every game until the end. We want to win the Europa League and the FA Cup."

Chelsea are also in United's way in next weekend's FA Cup semi-finals, while a 5-0 first-leg lead over LASK means they can expect to contest a Europa League quarter-final against Istanbul Basaksehir or Copenhagen next month.

Lifting the Europa League, as they did in 2016-17, of course represents another route into the Champions League if required.

"I don't think it adds more pressure, but it does give you more chances to play in the Champions League," Matic said.

"I think it's great what they did that clubs have an opportunity to fight for the Champions League.

"Also, a trophy is a trophy and we want to win, we can show our kids one day, every trophy is important to us."

The likelihood is that VAR decisions will come under the microscope once again as United contest the closing weeks of the season with all to play for.

Nevertheless, Matic is broadly a fan of the much-maligned system, although he feels breaks in play could be speeded up.

"I think it is better with VAR," he added. "Before, when referees made mistakes, it was finished.

"Now with the VAR they reduce the mistakes. There will always be mistakes because we are human, but I believe it will reduce the mistakes, so I support it.

"It needs to be faster. In the game against Bournemouth [United's recent 5-2 Premier League win] we had to wait too long.

"It's not easy to decide quickly but if they could improve more then it would be perfect."

Marcus Rashford deserves more credit for his "amazing" teamwork for Manchester United despite his goal return drying up, Bruno Fernandes says.

Rashford reached 20 for the season in all competitions with a penalty in the 5-2 Premier League win over Bournemouth at Old Trafford.

This has been the England forward's most productive campaign of his career in terms of goal involvements, but he has not yet scored from open play since the Premier League returned last month.

Fernandes has had no such trouble finding the net, his four goals in his past three league games helping him to win the Premier League Player of the Month award for the second time in a row.

But the Portugal star insists Rashford is hugely important for a United side unbeaten in 17 matches and with a top-four finish now in their own hands.

"I think everyone is talking about Marcus not scoring a lot of goals but he is doing an amazing job," Fernandes told United's website ahead of Monday's game against Southampton.

"The game he is playing now, maybe he is not achieving his goals and everything but, with everything we are doing now, he will achieve more goals and more assists. In the games, in the complete football, because football is not just about goals and assists, it is about the team and Marcus is playing very well for the team.

"I hope Marcus can find more goals because he deserves it for the work he is doing for the team, and nobody sees it because everyone sees the goals and who scores and assists. The work he is doing for the team is amazing.

"Marcus was injured for a long time so it's difficult to find that confidence again, to do things like shoot from far out. But he is doing an amazing job for the group and I think he deserves credit for this."

Fernandes drew attention to Rashford's off-the-ball run in the 3-0 win at Brighton and Hove Albion that helped to create the space for the swift counter-attack that ended with Fernandes volleying in United's third goal.

"The play we did, the way we came to score, means it's one of the best goals from a team [perspective] that I've scored,” he said.

"That's because of all the teamwork. We won the ball with the header from H [Harry Maguire], Nemanja [Matic] takes the ball and Mason [Greenwood] did an amazing run but, at that moment, Rashy did a perfect run. He was one of the far [off] guys but comes so fast to the goal that defenders know if they give him space, he will score. 

"So maybe he [the defender] closes him down being closer to the ball and, when the cross comes over, and it was a great ball by Mason, after that I just need to score the goal."

Jack Grealish has not seen sufficient ambition from Aston Villa to tempt him to stay with the club, according to former captain Stiliyan Petrov.

Relegation from the Premier League looks a near certainty for Villa now, after Watford and West Ham claimed potentially decisive wins on Saturday to pull clear of the bottom three.

It will mean Villa's return to the top flight has lasted just one campaign, after Grealish spent three seasons in the Championship helping his boyhood club battle their way back to the elite level.

Grealish is widely expected to leave, having been linked with a host of leading clubs including Manchester United, and the 24-year-old may risk his potential going unfulfilled should he drop into the second tier again.

Although Villa were among the big spenders leading into the 2019-20 season, Petrov suggests the 1982 European Cup winners have still not matched Grealish's needs.

And in turn that leads to the inevitable suspicion he will call time on his Villa career.

Speaking to Stats Perform News, Petrov said: "As a Villa fan I'd love him to stay. Jack likes to compete, he wants to do that at the highest level. He loves the club. He showed that in the Championship, he helped us get promotion, he battled hard in the Premier League.

"If that moment comes [when Grealish leaves], it would be sad to see because he is an exceptional person, not just player. But as a club, have we done enough to keep him?

"I don't think so and it's a big problem going forward as a club, because we may get good players through the youth system, but can we do enough to keep them?

"If he goes, I don't think he can be blamed."

Former Bulgaria star Petrov, who made over 200 appearances for Villa from 2006 until 2012, says it would be a natural progression for Grealish to step up to an established Premier League club.

"Jack has a growth mindset," Petrov said. "He likes to improve, he wants to achieve.

"He likes to be in the spotlight, wants to be counted. He wants to compete at the highest level.

"Of course, he will generate interest from the top clubs because he does perform. If you remember, Pep Guardiola said he's one of the best midfielders in the Premier League.

"That compliment comes from one of the best managers in the world. Those managers don't waste their words saying this about someone who doesn't deserve it.

"That's why Pep came out and said he's one of the best and his performances this season have attracted attention. It's completely normal."

Manchester United's plans for next season remain "up in the air", according to manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The delayed end to the 2019-20 season caused by coronavirus has meant a lot of the customary off-season planning has had to be shelved while United's pursuit of a top-four finish and Champions League qualification has exacerbated the problem at Old Trafford.

United's blistering form post-lockdown means wins in their four remaining games will see them secure a place among Europe's elite next term, although fifth may yet be enough depending on how the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) views Manchester City's appeal against a two-season European ban.

With so many variables, Solskjaer concedes there is only so much forward-thinking possible at present.

Speaking ahead of Monday's game against Southampton, he said: "You can't really decide on the training programme, there are so many small decisions and, of course, transfers sometimes are out of our hands as well.

"If the team is going well, what do we need? What don't we need? Do we get injuries? That's just the way we're working in this job and you've always got to plan for different scenarios.

"The uncertainty of dates, how much holiday can you give them, what will next season look like, it's still a little bit up in the air.

"I don't think it's like dramatic decisions, I don't think the club would either panic or suddenly go crazy with plans that we've already talked about for years to come.

"You do have to have a long-term plan but some short-term, maybe some decisions will be easier to make if you get [into] the Champions League."

United have received plenty of plaudits for their attack-minded approach since the Premier League resumed but Solskjaer was also keen to talk up the importance of a defence that has conceded just three goals in the past five games in all competitions.

He said: "It's about winning, of course it is, but it's also about our fans and the way we approach the game, how we approach football.

"You play with pace, power, you play with no fear, you take risks and you've got players who have got quality. That's just the DNA of the football club.

"Of course, I'm happy when you don't concede but it's always been built on a strong foundation.

"When we had [Jaap] Stam and [Ronny] Johnsen, [Gary] Pallister and [Steve] Bruce, fantastic keepers behind them, the engine room with Roy Keane and Bryan Robson laid down foundations for forwards to show their skills. We just need to take it one game at a time.

"Now it's time to keep our feet on the ground, keep working, and don't believe all the hype and praise. Same as not believing in all the criticism when you don't do well: the end is not too far away, so the goal is getting closer."

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer does not believe teenage star Mason Greenwood will suffer burnout after emerging as a key man at Old Trafford.

The 18-year-old striker has netted four times in United's past three Premier League games, including a wonderful effort in the 3-0 victory at Aston Villa on Thursday.

Greenwood has formed a formidable attacking trident with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial with the threesome set to start again as United continue their challenge to finish in the top four when they host Southampton on Monday.

Such is Greenwood's form, it seems unlikely he will be afforded any rest with United also challenging for silverware in the Europa League and FA Cup.

Solskjaer has no concerns that burnout will become a factor, though.

He told reporters at his news conference: "At that age, you've got so much energy, no fear, you just want to go and play football.

"If we had a day off, he'd go and play football with his mates. I'm not worried about Mason this season; we just need to look after him in his whole career.

"He's a fantastic boy, he loves football and gets the result and rewards for his hard work."

Greenwood has long been tipped for stardom and Solskjaer was not surprised by his emergence, adding: "Not really, we know what he's capable of and always trusted him to be a part of this squad and chip in with performances and goals.

"We've seen it every day, I've seen it since I came to the club, he's just a natural footballer and when you put natural good footballers with better footballers that gives him more opportunities to show his qualities.

"The club know what they're doing when they’re educating players."

With Greenwood taking centre stage, Rashford has been able to focus fully on his game after a lockdown period in which his charity work rightly earned him many plaudits.

Solskjaer has been encouraged with the recent progress made by the England international.

"I am very happy with him," he said. "Physically he's coping well with the games, mixing up his game and making defenders think.

"Marcus has got all the attributes to be a top forward, you can see with our players he suddenly pops up on the right, left, and you want that rotation between them but also the discipline to stick out wide and create the space for others.

"Sometimes you get an assist in my head when you're creating space and making runs for others."

Manchester City are reportedly ready to give up two players in a deal for Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly.

Koulibaly, 29, has regularly been linked with a move from Naples, with several of Europe's biggest clubs apparently keen to land the centre-back.

And City may know who they are ready to offer up as part of a deal.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY PREPARED TO GIVE UP TWO PLAYERS FOR KOULIBALY

Manchester City could use Nicolas Otamendi and Oleksandr Zinchenko in a deal for Napoli star Koulibaly, according to The Sun.

The report says the Serie A club have already contacted City about Otamendi and Zinchenko.

Napoli are said to want €100million for Koulibaly, who has also been linked to Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal.

ROUND-UP

- Liverpool have been repeatedly linked with a move for Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara over recent weeks. However, ESPN reports the Premier League champions will not pursue a deal for the former Barcelona star.

- Speculation around Eric Garcia's future continues. According to Mundo Deportivo, the Manchester City defender is motivated to return to Barcelona, but the Premier League club have offered the 19-year-old a bumper contract, with his current deal expiring in 2022.

- Jonathan Ikone is seemingly attracting some interest. Le 10 Sport reports Chelsea and Inter are interested in the Lille forward. Ikone scored three goals and provided six assists in 28 Ligue 1 games in 2019-20.

- Will Roma get a deal done for Chris Smalling? Gianluca Di Marzio says Roma are in negotiations with Manchester United to make the defender's move permanent. The report says Roma's offer of €3m (£2.7m) to extend the loan for a season before a €15m (£13.4m) offer to make the move permanent has been deemed too low.

- Mesut Ozil wants to see out his contract at Arsenal, with his deal expiring in 2021. The Sun reports the attacker has told friends he will only consider playing in MLS or the Turkish Super Lig after he leaves Arsenal.

- Paris Saint-Germain could be looking to strengthen while weakening one of their Ligue 1 rivals. Foot Mercato reports PSG are interested in Lyon and France defender Leo Dubois.

Page 1 of 82
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.