Ole Gunnar Solskjaer compared Manchester United's current strike force to the combination of Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez as he hailed the versatility of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Daniel James.

Rashford and Martial were on target as United beat Manchester City in last weekend's derby at the Etihad Stadium, and Solskjaer believes the young England forward is showing signs he can follow in the footsteps of five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo.

Solskjaer and Ronaldo spent four years together as players at Old Trafford, before the Norwegian worked with his former team-mate as a forwards coach, and few people are better placed to compare the Juventus star with Rashford.

Speaking about the fluid movement and interchanging positional play of Rashford, Martial and James, Solskjaer told Sky Sports: "I think that's a big strength of ours as a team.

"If Marcus runs in behind, Anthony will get some space because it stretches the opponent. It can be the opposite way around too, with Anthony and Dan running in behind and Marcus coming to feet to get on the ball.

"I see this attack as being quite similar to the one we had with Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez, with the interchanging of positions and the fast, flowing football."

Under Solskjaer, Rashford has equalled his best Premier League goal return in a single season within the first half of the 2019-20 campaign.

Rashford's 10th league goal of the season came from the penalty spot against City and Solskjaer praised the 22-year-old's versatility while drawing comparisons with Ronaldo, who played on the wing and as a striker during his time in Manchester.

"Of course it's hard to say with certainty that he's going to be as good as Cristiano, but you can see the similarities more and more in terms of Marcus' traits on the pitch," said Solskjaer.

"He can play through the middle, he can play as a number nine, he can cut inside from the left and finish. He can even play on the right, as Cristiano did when he came here. He's got the same physical stature and more or less all of his attributes are very, very similar. Even their stats are similar, in terms of goals scored after a certain amount of games."

"You have to remember that, as well as playing with Cristiano, I coached him in my first year as a forwards coach here," he added.

"Both players are very professional, very dedicated, very in love with football. And you can see that Marcus is getting more of a taste for that now, both with us and with England. He is pushing himself and seeing the results."

Marcus Rashford labelled Ole Gunnar Solskjaer comparing him to Cristiano Ronaldo as "nice", but the Manchester United forward said he still had a way to go to reach those heights.

Rashford was compared to Ronaldo by his manager after starring in United's 2-1 Premier League win over Manchester City last week.

But while happy with such talk, the 22-year-old said he needed to improve to match the five-time Ballon d'Or winner and United great.

"The Ronaldo thing was nice, definitely a compliment," Rashford told BBC Sport.

"But I understand how far I've got left to go to reach the heights he reached so I am very clear-minded and focused on myself."

Rashford came through the academy at United and has already made 191 senior appearances for the Premier League giants, scoring 58 goals.

The forward has a painting on the walls at Carrington after coming through the youth system and Rashford said he knew the responsibility he held.

"It is a bit overwhelming but it is the process of development. The players I looked up to are obviously older now. The younger players look up to us," he said.

"The transition happens so fast. When I understood that, my perception of that picture changed a little bit.

"When I was younger and saw people such as [David] Beckham and [Paul] Scholes on the walls, it gave me that determination every time you went to training. I wanted to reach those heights. I knew they were on the other side of the building, training every day and working hard. I was so far away from them but so close at the same time.

"It's happening now where people like me and Scotty [McTominay] are an example to some of the academy lads who are coming in. It will be the same in a few years' time, when it's the next lot of kids.

"While that happens, I don't see United's breeding of players slowing down."

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Marcus Rashford can reach the level of superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.

Rashford continued his excellent form to start the season with another goal in United's stunning 2-1 derby win at Premier League champions Manchester City on Saturday.

The 22-year-old United and England star has scored 13 goals this term – 10 of those coming in the Premier League.

And Solskjaer backed Rashford to emulate five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo, who claimed three Premier League titles and the Champions League with United before leaving for Real Madrid in 2009.

"It's very easy to compare the two of them, yeah," said United boss Solskjaer. "Both with skills, body shape, attitude, attributes - everything.

"The boy [Rashford] has every chance in the world to become a top, top player. Let's hope he continues like this.

"I don't want to talk about the amount of goals. As long as he keeps being positive and being direct and thinking about getting in front of the goal and getting chances, he'll score goals."

United – up to fifth in the Premier League standings following wins over City and Tottenham – welcome Everton to Old Trafford on Sunday.

Not before United face AZ in their sixth and final Group L Europa League fixture on Thursday.

Manchester United have the firepower to push for a top-four finish in the Premier League, says Harry Maguire, but the defender stated Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side must not get ahead of themselves.

United claimed their second successive victory as they secured a 2-1 derby victory over Manchester City on Saturday, three days after defeating Tottenham - managed by former boss Jose Mourinho - by the same scoreline.

The wins have taken United up to fifth, five points shy of fourth-place Chelsea, who on Saturday lost 3-1 to managerless Everton - United's next opponents in the league.

With Marcus Rashford having already matched his total tally of league goals from last season and Anthony Martial having netted what proved to be the winner against City, Maguire believes United's frontline has the quality to push them towards Champions League qualification.

However, the England centre-back is adamant United's squad will stay grounded, with the league outside of the top four still heavily congested.

"I think you need to look after your own results, don't look elsewhere, keep winning games," Maguire told Sky Sports. "We've won back-to-back games against Spurs and City. We've got another big game next week now.

"The top four is in sight but we just keep looking after our own results, keep trying to get the three points and keep improving.

"Over the last month or so, I feel like as a defender I look at the forwards and think they're going to score goals.

"At the start of the season, we didn't really score more than one goal in a game but now I think it's a few games on the spin where we're back to scoring goals.

"They're a big threat, they're top players, great talent and I think it's all coming together now."

Before hosting Everton on Sunday, United face AZ in their final Europa League group match, with an EFL Cup quarter-final against Colchester United coming up prior to the festive period.

Pep Guardiola conceded Manchester City could not live with the pace of Manchester United's attacking players in Saturday's 2-1 derby defeat.

Visitors United constantly exposed their opponents on the counter at the Etihad Stadium, helping them move into a two-goal lead inside the opening half-hour.

Marcus Rashford won and then converted a penalty before Anthony Martial fired in a second after being picked out by Daniel James.

Guardiola talked up United's counter-attacking threat on the eve of the match, but the City head coach has admitted his side ultimately had no answer to the trio.

"I like how my team played," he said at his post-match news conference. "We conceded a little bit more space - not more than usual, but more than last year against United.

"We knew about the pace they have, with James, Martial and Rashford, but sometimes it is not possible to control it."

Nicolas Otamendi pulled a goal back for City five minutes from the end, but there was to be no comeback for the reigning champions as their title hopes were dealt another blow.

"In general, we did what we like," Guardiola added. "We arrived in the final third many, many, many, many times. 

"Unfortunately, we couldn't finish a little bit more, but I like to watch my team. I know nobody agrees but I like it."

Third-place City are now 14 points adrift of leaders Liverpool, who beat Bournemouth 3-0 earlier on Saturday, and travel to Arsenal for their next league outing.

The home loss means Guardiola has the lowest points tally after 16 games of a season in his senior coaching career, but he is not surprised by the drop-off in form since last term.

"Sometimes it happens," he added. "Sometimes you don't win and the others are better and you lose. Normal is not winning the league always, sometimes you lose.

"It is important not to give up and try to do what we do as a team. All the games we play a season we play the game I want my team to play. 

"After that, the counter-attacks, the final third, when we struggle in some departments okay, it's part of the process. Maybe next season we will be better."

Marcus Rashford believes racism has become a "big negative" in the United Kingdom after Manchester United players appeared to be targets of discriminatory abuse in Saturday's derby, while Gary Neville pointed the finger at politicians for creating such a climate.

United claimed a 2-1 win that left rivals Manchester City's title defence in tatters, but the contest was marred by an incident in the second half.

While waiting to take a corner, several projectiles were thrown from a section of the Etihad Stadium crowd towards Fred, who was hit by one object.

During the same break in play, one fan appeared to make racist gestures towards the midfielder, with United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer later calling for a lifetime ban for anyone found to have abused Fred or Jesse Lingard, who was nearby.

City confirmed they are working with police to investigate the incident and said they will issue life bans to anyone found guilty of racial behaviour.

Rashford – who was targeted with racist social media comments earlier in the season – rued the frequency at which such incidents are occurring in the country.

"We seem to be speaking about it an awful lot over the last six to eight months," Rashford told the BBC. "Even speaking about it now is not nice.

"The necessary departments need to do the right things to stop it in the game. It is a big negative in the sport and the country."

Former United captain Neville, now a television pundit, suggested part of the blame lies with politicians and pointed to comments about immigration in a pre-election debate as a possible way in which discriminatory behaviour is fuelled.

"You're watching the debate last night [Friday] where the prime minister is talking about immigration, people coming into this country and having to have certain levels - it fuels it [racism] all the time," Neville said on Sky Sports.

It's March 2016. Excitement and expectation are through the roof for one particular teenager ahead of his first Manchester derby.

The local lad had already risen to the occasion in the Europa League and against Arsenal, but this was a far bigger deal for the 18-year-old who'd grown up a Manchester United fan.

Marcus Rashford started in attack with Antony Martial and their pace and mobility proving a lethal combination, particularly with respect to the former.

Highlighting his ice-cold mentality on the big stage, Rashford was decisive. Roasting Manchester City defender Martin Demichelis in the 16th minute, the striker nutmegged him at pace and left the experienced centre-back for dead before clinically dispatching past Joe Hart.

If onlookers hadn't sat up and taken notice already after his heroics against Arsenal and Midtjylland, they were now. Rashford proved he was no mere flash in the pan.

A leader's mentality

Since that bright debut derby, Rashford has gone on to feature another seven times against City and he'll be desperate to leave is mark in Saturday's clash. It is the sort of occasion that has started to typify his status as a big-game player with an elite mentality.

Rashford's most recent Manchester derby came in April, as City comfortably dispatched of United 2-0 at Old Trafford. It was this encounter that seemed to suggest their wretched form after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's permanent appointment was anything but a blip.

More than anyone, Rashford was scathing of United.

"It was quite clear who the better team was," Rashford said to Sky Sports. "We didn't play like Man United and the last few weeks it hasn't felt like Man United. It's not right. The bare minimum should be to work hard and give your all for the supporters and the badge.

"We need the mentality and willingness of running for your team. We never call each other out but we have to be real with each other. It's a matter of trying to improve each other."

While some may have put Rashford's comments down to 'holier than thou' posturing in an attempt to win a new contract, which duly arrived in July, there's little doubt he is now the talisman that should be speaking out.

Motivation an issue?

Rashford has become the player many fans are still hoping Martial will develop into. With nine goals in 15 Premier League matches, the England international is already just one behind his personal best for a full campaign.

With 12 goals in his past 13 matches for club and country, Rashford is in the form of his life – yet even as recently as this season he has been a target for criticism.

It has been suggested he struggles to make the difference against opponents who sit back, the games United are expected to control and data backs this up.

In 85 matches against teams not in the current top four or traditionally part of the so-called 'big six', Rashford has scored just 19 times, an average of one every 275.9 minutes.

It's a record that does raise valid concerns – after all, the best strikers score against pretty much everyone and anyone.

At home on the big stage

But what highlights Rashford's true ability and gives a clear insight to his mindset is the forward's record against the biggest clubs.

In 41 Premier League meetings against the 'big six' and Leicester, he has an impressive haul of 17 goals, one every 163.4 minutes.

Rashford's effectiveness in front of goal increases remarkably in such matches. Even though his shot frequency goes down from one every 28.8 minutes to 39.1 minutes, his accuracy is boosted significantly.

Against the biggest sides, Rashford's shot accuracy rises to 48 per cent from 40 per cent, while his chance conversion increases from 10 per cent to 24 per cent.

Rashford proved his decisiveness last time out against Tottenham and former manager Jose Mourinho, who often did little good for his confidence.

He suggested United generally do better against teams who don't invite pressure on to themselves – backed up by the fact they've only lost two of 11 matches against the rest of the 'big six' and Leicester.

And with a City side that hasn't kept a clean sheet in the Premier League for nearly two months next up, Rashford has another chance to prove any lingering doubters he's worthy of being regarded United's new talisman.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer encouraged Marcus Rashford to maintain his impressive scoring form as he urged Manchester United to show consistency in Saturday's derby.

United head to the Etihad Stadium with renewed belief following their 2-1 midweek win over Tottenham but will again be without the injured Paul Pogba, who has not played since September.

Anthony Martial will be available, albeit potentially from the bench, as United seek to make a dent in Manchester City's title aspirations.

Rashford scored both goals against Spurs and has now been directly involved in 14 goals in his past 13 games for club and country, having found net the freely since mid-October.

His pace on the counter will be crucial to United's hopes of breaking down a side that has not kept a clean sheet in eight attempts, and manager Solskjaer backed the England international to continue blossoming as a reliable goalscorer.

"He's doing that at the moment," said the United boss.

"How he didn't get the goal against Aston Villa is beyond me but he's consistently scoring now. It's not like four in one and two or three without. It's not just in spurts and that's encouraging.

"He's consistently getting chances and getting into better positions. On Wednesday he was unbelievable and we want to see that again."

Solskjaer sought to extract the same response from Rashford's team-mates after United ended a three-match winless streak with the Old Trafford triumph over Tottenham.

United have not won consecutive Premier League matches since March.

"We're going away against arguably the best team in England, so of course it's going to be a difficult game but we need consistency," Solskjaer said.

"I said it before the Tottenham game, everyone was doom and gloom, but it's a chance to turn that doubt into belief and for us, if we can manage to get another performance, the confidence [will grow].

"The way we played against Tottenham, if we can do that at the Etihad I'm sure we can come out of it with a result.

"People say: 'Why do you not have better results in other games?' But the Premier League is hard, no matter who you play, it's margins. I think it's a compliment to the league."

Solskjaer said he hoped midfielder Pogba would return from his long-running ankle injury before the end of December.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer lauded Marcus Rashford after his brace led the Red Devils to a 2-1 win over Jose Mourinho's Tottenham in the Premier League.

Mourinho's return to Old Trafford was an unhappy one as Rashford's match-winning performance snapped the former United manager's 100 per cent record since replacing Mauricio Pochettino.

Rashford opened the scoring in the sixth minute before converting a 49th-minute penalty after Dele Alli had equalised prior to half-time.

The 22-year-old Rashford took his Premier League tally to nine goals this season and 12 across all competitions, earning post-match praise from Solskjaer.

"The boy is 22 and today he played like he was in a back yard or garden, a playground with his mates," Solskjaer told reporters. "He's just enjoyed himself.

"Sometimes maybe the expectations and pressure on him… we do expect a lot from him because he's showed it so many times. We want them to enjoy themselves, we want them to go out there and face players, take them on with no fear of losing it.

"I love to watch that and that's what the Stretford End loves to watch. Man United fans love to watch wingers or forwards play with courage."

Solskjaer also hailed midfielder Scott McTominay, who starred on his return from injury as United climbed into the Premier League's top six – leapfrogging Tottenham.

McTominay had missed three matches, but the Scotland international proved his fitness before Mourinho's midweek Manchester reunion.

"We can almost say he's undroppable at the moment, definitely," Solskjaer said of McTominay. "There's no chance I wasn't going to try and push him through for this game.

"The physical presence and leadership he gives us in midfield also releases Fred. I thought Fred was excellent today, the one chance they had he blocked. I thought Fred was top class and they're a good partnership.

"[McTominay] trained yesterday and that was just a light session with the reserves but he's a tough boy. There's no chance he's going to say 'no thanks' if he felt okay. It's the first time I've really pushed on players who haven't had the foundation but he's so fit anyway."

Jose Mourinho might well have had empathy for his Manchester United successor Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had Tottenham raided Old Trafford for maximum spoils.

The Portuguese knows more than most about the scrutiny and pressure that comes with the United manager's job, himself seen off by an awful stretch this time last year that provided neither style nor substance.

For Solskjaer, Mourinho's return will be followed by a trip to Manchester City, and the twin fixtures looked a daunting dual threat to a team and manager who before the Tottenham game were winless in three across all competitions.

At kick-off, Solskjaer was second favourite with the bookmakers to be the next Premier League manager sacked, trailing only Marco Silva, the struggling Everton boss who could not ended his team's Anfield derby hoodoo.

But rather than bury the United great, Spurs - this uncharacteristically unpredictable early Mourinho outfit - granted Solskjaer a reprieve, with his future prospects also belatedly boosted by a determined home display.

Supporters certainly seemed to have Solskjaer's back, still raucously chanting his name throughout, and United had, in Marcus Rashford, the star of the show.

Greater concerns surely belonged to Tottenham fans.

The usual stingy defending of a Mourinho team has not yet replaced the haphazard backline efforts of the final throes of Mauricio Pochettino's reign, while even the encouraging attacking endeavours of matches one, two and three - 3-2, 4-2 and 3-2 wins - did not materialise here.

Dele Alli scored a masterful 39th-minute equaliser, teed up with a touch reminiscent of his breathtaking 2016 goal against Crystal Palace, but the rest of his work was of underwhelming 2018-19 humdrum.

Unable to get his recent star performer into the game, just about everything went against Mourinho besides that leveller.

At the same end of the stadium where little over a year earlier, three weeks before his departure, Mourinho fumed at a Rashford miss against Young Boys and drew the ire of United commentators, the England striker laid early siege to Paulo Gazzaniga's Spurs goal.

Rashford's first strike provided the opener, creeping under Gazzaniga at the goalkeeper's right-hand post. A free-kick from Rashford was then whipped wide, and Gazzaniga touched a magnificent long-range effort against the crossbar before batting away a fourth attempt from United's main threat.

Mourinho, meanwhile, took a blow to the knee as Harry Winks cynically chopped down Daniel James in front of the dugout - an incident that granted the Spurs head coach a greater role in proceedings to that point than Alli, stifled and increasingly frustrated.

The attacking midfielder's stunning strike should have roused Tottenham but half-time intervened, and then so too did Moussa Sissoko, a man who painfully knows a thing or two about conceding penalties early in halves.

The felled Rashford tucked away the spot-kick for his 12th club goal of the campaign and, again, it was difficult not to be reminded of Mourinho's failure to get the best out of such a gifted player. The striker represents one check next to Solskjaer's name.

Much huffing and puffing followed from both teams, with United just about on top, but neither outfit truly convinced that their issues are behind them.

Unlike at times under Mourinho, United were indeed united, battling until the final whistle - led by Fred and the returning Scott McTominay - to protect the advantage secured by Rashford. Three points should ensure Solskjaer sees out the week, while a reality check might serve Tottenham well.

There is work to do for both United and Mourinho, long since separated, but each at least seem happier than at this time 12 months ago.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hailed a dominant first-half performance from Manchester United against Tottenham, describing it as his side's best display "for a long time".

United were winless in three in all competitions coming into a first meeting with Jose Mourinho since his sacking as their manager at Old Trafford.

But Solskjaer's men ended Mourinho's winning start at Spurs with a 2-1 success, scoring early in both halves through the inspired Marcus Rashford.

Dele Alli scored a wonderful equaliser six minutes before half-time, which Solskjaer acknowledged was tough to take after controlling the game to that point.

"Especially first half, that's probably the best we've played for a long time," he told Prime Video. "We dominated the game and could have, should have finished the game there and then.

"There were some great saves by their keeper, but they get the goal right before half-time and you think about getting in here, settling all the heads and going again."

The United manager added: "We're best when we're on the front foot, we're best when we attack quickly, we're best when we're aggressive. I thought the boys followed the plan and executed their skills all night."

Solskjaer praised a "fantastic performance" from Rashford, who drew several further saves from Paulo Gazzaniga.

Rashford was delighted to deliver against another 'Big Six' side, although he recognised United must still make progress against lesser opponents, having drawn with Sheffield United and Aston Villa in their previous two league matches. 

"I think that's the hardest we've had to work to get a result," he said. "But with the position we're in now, we want these games.

"We want to show people we can play against the top teams. We know we need to improve against the other teams. Game by game, we're trying to improve."

Marcus Rashford netted a double as Manchester United earned a 2-1 Premier League win at home to Tottenham on Jose Mourinho's return to Old Trafford.

Spurs had won their three matches across all competitions since Mourinho was appointed as Mauricio Pochettino's replacement last month, but they slipped to defeat on Wednesday after a below-par showing.

Rashford put United ahead and, after a superb individual effort from Dele Alli levelled the scores, the striker converted a penalty to end United's three-game winless run.

Victory moves Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men above Spurs and into the top six in the table, denying Mourinho - sacked by United a year ago - the chance to be the first Tottenham manager to win his first three Premier League games in charge.

United took the lead in the sixth minute, Rashford profiting from a series of ricochets to beat Paulo Gazzaniga at his near post, the goalkeeper making a poor effort to keep the shot out.

Gazzaniga improved by blocking a Mason Greenwood strike before tipping Rashford's swerving long-range drive on to the crossbar as United continued to dominate.

Spurs equalised out of nowhere before the break, though, Alli's sensational first touch deceiving both Fred and Ashley Young, with the midfielder then slotting in his fourth goal in three games.

Rashford restored United's advantage early in the second half, tucking away a penalty he won himself by being clumsily brought down by Moussa Sissoko.

Fred made a good block to repel a Son Heung-min shot, but it was United who continued to make the running, Gazzaniga denying Daniel James twice in quick succession.

David de Gea was called into action late on but comfortable saves from Serge Aurier, substitute Tanguy Ndombele and Alli ensured United closed out victory.
 

What does it mean? Mourinho suffers first Spurs loss

Spurs had a perfect record under Mourinho, but in this game they were well off the pace, needing a moment of magic from the resurgent Alli to undeservedly go into the interval all square.

But Sissoko's lack of concentration immediately after the restart allowed Rashford to restore United's lead and thereafter the result was not in doubt.


Reliable Rashford maintains hot streak

Anthony Martial's latest injury meant Rashford played off the left to accommodate teenager Greenwood in a central role, but the England striker continued to be United's main man in attack.

In his past 10 games for club and country, Rashford has scored nine times, drawing only two blanks.


Gazzaniga tries in vain to atone for error

Still deputising for injured captain Hugo Lloris, Gazzaniga made a series of saves that would usually have made for a good individual performance. Unfortunately, his misjudgement of Rashford's early strike left Spurs with it all to do at Old Trafford.


What's next?

Solskjaer's side make a short trip for a derby clash with Manchester City on Saturday. Spurs host Burnley on the same day.

In August 2018, Mauricio Pochettino guided Tottenham to a 3-0 victory over Jose Mourinho's Manchester United at Old Trafford.

In hindsight, it was a defeat that appeared to signal the beginning of the end for Mourinho at United, with the Portuguese coach sacked four months later, replaced – initially on a temporary basis – by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Pochettino was heavily linked with the United hot seat, but Solskjaer's impressive run earned him the job permanently. But while Spurs went on to reach a Champions League final, the Red Devils' form dropped off dramatically.

Now, 16 months on from that clash at Old Trafford, Mourinho returns to his former stomping ground for the first time since his December 2018 sacking, having taken over from Pochettino at Spurs – who dismissed the former Argentina international following a poor start to 2019-20.

Two 3-2 wins on the bounce in the league, either side of a 4-2 comeback victory over Olympiacos in the Champions League, have seen Tottenham climb up to fifth place, two points above United, who could only draw with Aston Villa on Sunday.

Can Mourinho show his old side just what they are missing, or will Solskjaer prove his credentials in a match over which the spectre of Pochettino could loom large.

 

THE 'SPECIAL ONE' RETURNS

Glory in the EFL Cup and Europa League made Mourinho's first year in charge of United a successful one, though those were the only major trophies he won during his stint in Manchester.

After finishing second – well behind neighbours Manchester City – in Mourinho's sophomore year, United's form tailed off at the start of the former Chelsea boss' final campaign in charge.

Their home defeat to Tottenham followed on from a loss at Brighton and Hove Albion, while they also went down to both West Ham and City as they suffered four defeats from their opening 12 matches.

A run of three successive draws against Crystal Palace, Southampton and Arsenal paved the way for a 3-1 reverse at Liverpool to result in Mourinho's departure.

But after almost a year out of management, he was handed a way back into the big time with Spurs, who seem rejuvenated – albeit still with some glaring weaknesses – and Mourinho is now aiming to become just the third manager to win a Premier League away game at Old Trafford with two different clubs.

United, on the other hand, have managed just four league victories this season and head into Wednesday's encounter without a victory in three matches across all competitions.

In fact, since Solskjaer was appointed on a permanent basis on March 28, United have claimed all three points in just six Premier League games.

HEAD-TO-HEAD: MARCUS RASHFORD V HARRY KANE

One shining light for United in recent weeks has been the form of Marcus Rashford, who seems to have taken up the mantle of leading the Red Devils' youthful attack.

Meanwhile, Harry Kane's goals were not enough to save Pochettino's job, but the England captain is still as reliable as ever when presented with a chance.

Both players are on seven league goals for the season, with Rashford's 14 appearances one more than Kane.

Rashford has also played slightly more than Kane in terms of minutes, racking up 1,219 compared to the Tottenham striker's 1,165.

Kane is proving more efficient, with the 26-year-old scoring his seven goals from a total of 36 shots, resulting in a conversion rate of 19.44 per cent, while Rashford's rate stands at 16.67 per cent.

Not much separates the pair in terms of goal frequency – Kane edging this one with a strike every 166 minutes, compared to Rashford's 174.

However, Kane is the clear winner when it comes to expected goals. By this metric, Rashford (8.66) should be on at least eight goals for the campaign, while his opposite number at Spurs has only been expected to score five goals from the chances he has had this term.

FORM GUIDE

Pochettino managed two draws in his final matches in charge of Spurs, meaning Mourinho's side are now unbeaten in four league games.

Should Tottenham win, Mourinho will become their first manager to win his first three top-flight matches in charge. 

Dele Alli seems to have recaptured his best form, scoring twice and providing an assist in the two Premier League matches since Mourinho's arrival – as many as he had in his final 12 appearances under Pochettino.

United's haul of 18 points from their opening 14 Premier League matches this season means the Red Devils have endured their worst start to a domestic season since the 1988-89 campaign, when they also had 18 points and went on to finish 11th.

Both United and Tottenham are equal in one sense, however, with both having dropped 12 points from winning positions in the Premier League this season.

HISTORY SAYS…

United's hopes will not be boosted by the fact they have lost three of their past seven home league meetings against Spurs, after losing only two of their previous 36 at Old Trafford.

However, Tottenham have lost more Premier League games to United than against any other side, though Mourinho can take solace in knowing the away team won in both top-flight meetings last season.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted his Manchester United players lacked composure after Jack Grealish's goal gave Aston Villa the lead in a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford on Sunday.

The Red Devils turned the game around as Marcus Rashford forced a Tom Heaton own-goal and Victor Lindelof headed a second for the hosts, but Tyrone Mings plundered an equaliser to earn Villa a point.

The result left United with just two wins from their last nine Premier League matches and, while offering a reminder of the youthfulness of his team, Solskjaer pointed to a lack of composure during a disjointed first half.

"Any home game you'd want to win and you go into the game believing you'll win but you have to play an opposition and the first half wasn't good enough," said Solskjaer.

"Their first goal knocked us a little bit emotionally. We didn't find our composure until we got the half-time talk.

"The boys have character; they're young, there's loads of energy, they played [in the] second half miles, miles better of course but it's a game of two halves as everyone says.

"Poorly defended by us, we should have done better. But then again we have to learn from this. You say that after every goal you concede - there's little details that go wrong. We didn't go out together as a team."

United are ninth in the Premier League table, having lost four and drawn six of their 14 matches this season, and Solskjaer must prepare his players to face Tottenham at home on Wednesday before the Manchester derby at Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

The former Red Devils striker gave an upbeat assessment of morale in the squad ahead of a week that could have a huge bearing on a faltering season and his own future at the club.

"These boys will improve and learn from this experience," said Solskjaer. "Of course we, as Man United, as a club, we don't like to be in the position we are but that's the reality now and we just take one game at a time.

"We've got Wednesday, we've got a big game coming up on Saturday again so these boys are looking forward to every game. Sometimes inconsistency will happen with young boys, ups and downs.

"You see in moments we play some fantastic football and at times it's too open. We failed to control the game at times, but we can't do anything about that now.

"We have to keep improving; we have to be better. We have to work on us as a team and becoming a better unit."

Tyrone Mings took advantage of Manchester United's sloppy defending to score his first Premier League goal as Aston Villa came from behind in a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford.

United had to chase the game after the impressive Jack Grealish opened the scoring 11 minutes into an error-strewn contest that saw the hosts equalise through a Tom Heaton own goal and then go ahead when Victor Lindelof scored for the first time this season.

Any hopes Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had of seeing his side protect the lead were dashed within two minutes as the unmarked Mings volleyed home an equaliser from close range to help Villa claim a share of the points their performance deserved.

The result leaves United with one win from their last four domestic outings and, with Tottenham arriving in midweek before the Manchester derby against City on Saturday, Solskjaer must address problems in a defence that has not kept a clean sheet in nine league games.

United started brightly, winning midfield battles and launching swift attacks through Juan Mata, but they were caught on the counter 11 minutes in.

Anwar El Ghazi's cross from the Villa right floated beyond United's defenders and landed at the feet of Grealish, who cut inside Andreas Pereira before launching a shot that curled over the rooted David de Gea and found the top corner of the net.

But United were let off the hook for a poor first-half performance when Marcus Rashford found space in the box as Pereira hung a tantalising cross at the far post and the England forward's header bounced in off Heaton's arm.

United increased the tempo after the interval and they had the wind in their sails when Fred's cross was flicked to the far post by Villa striker Wesley for Lindelof to send a header back across Heaton's goal and into the far corner of the net.

But nobody marked Mings as Villa poured forward and the England defender - played onside by Brandon Williams - connected with Matt Targett's chipped ball into the box, lashing home a low volley that beat De Gea for power.

Solskjaer sent on Jesse Lingard and Mason Greenwood to try and force a winner but Dean Smith's men held firm, with Heaton saving from Fred before the final whistle.

What does it mean? Solskjaer on thin ice

United's results are forcing their board to contemplate the reality of a finish outside the top half of the Premier League and, with bosses dropping like flies at rival clubs, Solskjaer likely needs December victories to save his job.

Grealish's swagger serves Villa well

The confidence with which Grealish set about finding holes in the United defence seemed to fill his team-mates with the belief that they could get a result and while comparisons with Eric Cantona might be kind on the Birmingham-born playmaker, his goal was reminiscent of the Frenchman in his pomp.

Pereira's cross fails to paper over cracks

There is no denying the quality of the cross Pereira delivered to tee up United's equaliser but the Brazilian was otherwise ineffective, providing neither grit nor guile and giving Grealish an easy ride.

What's next?

United have a tough week ahead, with games against Tottenham at home in midweek and Manchester City away on Saturday, while Villa travel to Chelsea on Wednesday before entertaining Leicester City on Sunday.

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