EPL

Man Utd boss Solskjaer not conceding Premier League title ahead of derby clash

By Sports Desk March 06, 2021

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is yet to concede the Premier League title to runaway leaders and neighbours Manchester City, while he talked up the club's progress.

Stuttering United are second and 14 points adrift of neighbours City ahead of Sunday's Manchester derby at the Etihad Stadium.

United go into the fixture having won only two their previous eight Premier League matches, a run that has not only dashed their title hopes but left the Red Devils vulnerable in the top-four race.

Fifth-placed Everton are only five points adrift of United – who are through 27 games – with a match in hand.

Despite United's wobbling form and City's comprehensive advantage, Solskjaer has not given up hope on Premier League silverware.

"There are still 11 games to go in the Premier League," Solskjaer told reporters. "I have always said, let's get to at least March and April before we talk about a title race. You don't talk about title races after 18-19 games.

"We have given ourselves a very good chance of improving on last season by the position we're in. I'd rather be in the position we're in now, compared to the situation we were in last season. But of course, in the Premier League, there are lots of quality teams.

"What we can control is ourselves and if we do our jobs and get as many points as I think we can do, I'm sure we'll be up there."

United are unbeaten in 21 Premier League matches away from home (W13 D8). In top-flight history, only Arsenal have had a longer away undefeated streak, going 23 without defeat between August 2001 and September 2002 and 27 without defeat between April 2003 and September 2004.

Solskjaer's United are looking to win three consecutive away games in all competitions against City for the first time since a run of four between November 1993 and November 2000.

This week, United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward said the club have made clear progress under Solskjaer in 2020-21, and the Norwegian responded on Friday.

Solskjaer – looking to become the first manager in United's history to win each of his first three away meetings with City in all competitions – added: "Of course, you want to win every game of football, you do. But if we compare to last season, we're quite a bit higher in the league compared to the same stage. We're still through in Europe and the FA Cup.

"It's probably the league that you think, 'yeah, that's where we've shown the progress'. Hopefully, we can prove in the Europa League and the FA Cup that we have taken another further step.

"This team, the ambitions are there, of course. We have more experience to be in this position, compared to last season. We're gelling more as a team, they're fitter but at the moment, we look short term and that's Sunday, to get back to creating chances, taking them and scoring goals again."

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    Solskjaer is not prepared to write off United's title chances just yet, but he does concede it seems improbable that City will drop enough points to allow them back into the race. 

    "Of course we'll never give up," he said. "Manchester United will never, ever give up. This club has had too many setbacks and too many great comebacks to have it in our DNA. 

    "Is it realistic? No, probably not. When you have a team that is so consistent as Manchester City have been, you don't expect them to lose three games of the last six. 

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