Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has offered a novel explanation for Manchester United's underwhelming home form this season – the players' jerseys are blending into the red canvas of banners and empty seats at Old Trafford.

United's form both at home and on the road have made for curious reading for much of the season – after all, their 6-1 defeat to Tottenham at Old Trafford in October was the Red Devils' joint-heaviest Premier League loss and saw them beaten in their opening two home games of a league campaign for the first time since 1986-87.

Yet, United have not lost a Premier League away game since January 19, 2020, winning 15 of those 23 matches on the road since.

Delving into the numbers a little more, United's 54.2 per cent win rate at home across all competitions this term is their second-worst record since the Premier League's inception in 1992 – only in 2018-19 (46.2 per cent) have they won a smaller percentage of their games at Old Trafford.

Conversely, their 65.4 per cent win rate on the road (17 victories in 26 matches) is better than they have ever managed in the same timeframe.

While many have put the drastic changes down to a lack of fans – so, less intimidating atmospheres away and reduced motivation at home – in stadiums, Solskjaer offered an alternative conclusion as he addressed the media ahead of Thursday's Europa League quarter-final second leg with Granada.

"You'll see a change now, the banners around the pitch, they're not red anymore," Solskjaer said when queried about why United failed to beat Real Sociedad and Milan at Old Trafford in the two previous rounds of the competition.

"We've looked into this and there shouldn't be any reason really, but some of the players have mentioned, that split-second decision you have to make – look over your shoulder if your team-mate is there or not – and the red shirt is on the red background with the red seats.

"So, we've tried to change that, along with the anti-racism campaign [banner], so of course it was important that wasn't red anymore.

"Then again, there shouldn't be any reason, but if you've got a 4-0 advantage [in the Real Sociedad tie] you don't really have to win that game [second leg at home], 0-0 was a good result.

"Then the first game against Milan, that's still a draw, we conceded in the last minute. I still think we've played some good football at home.

"We started off badly with three defeats to Palace, Tottenham and Arsenal early on, so we've improved."

United host Granada having won 2-0 in Spain a week earlier, and it is just as well they are in such a commanding position given the depleted nature of Solskjaer's squad.

Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw and Scott McTominay are all suspended, while Eric Bailly remains absent having contracted coronavirus and Marcus Rashford is reportedly a doubt after missing training on Wednesday.

An experimental, and potentially inexperienced, starting XI could be named, with Solskjaer confirming Axel Tuanzebe is set for a rare game at centre-back.

"I don't think it affected him," Solskjaer said when asked if Tuanzebe's confidence had been damaged after being targeted with online abuse.

"Axel has always been a very positive and hard-working boy. Victor and Harry have formed a very good partnership, so his chances have been limited. He is ready for this opportunity."

Regarding any hints of complacency, Solskjaer added: "We have got a great foundation, but we have to win. They will give everything they have got.

"Momentum is big in football. We have to make sure we go through, I always pick a team I think will win a game.

"We will go into the game wanting to win this. We want to improve our performances.

"It is a quarter-final in Europe, they need to score goals. We have seen them against Barcelona, Real Madrid how dangerous they can be. We have to play a good game and not give them those opportunities."

Jose Mourinho's bizarre post-match war of words with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has taken an amusing turn as the Manchester United manager's son chimed in, insisting he "always" gets fed despite his father's parenting being called into question on Sunday.

A gripping duel between Tottenham and United at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium was followed by some similarly entertaining sniping between the two managers.

Solskjaer, who had seen his side emerge 3-1 winners, was left infuriated by United having a first-half Edinson Cavani goal disallowed as a result of Scott McTominay catching Son Heung-min in the face with a flick of the arm in the build-up.

The Norwegian was scathing of Son's reaction in his post-match interview with Sky Sports, saying: "If my son stays down like this for three minutes and he gets 10 of his mates around him… if he gets that in the face from one of his other mates and he needs 10 mates to help him up, he won't get any food."

Mourinho unsurprisingly took issue with the comment, firstly snapping at reporters for them not asking Solskjaer about his words, then taking a pop at his counterpart's parenting techniques.

"In relation to that, I just want to say, Sonny is very lucky that his father is a better person than Ole, because I think a father – I am a father – you have always to feed your kids, it doesn't matter what they do," Mourinho said.

Noah Solskjaer, the United manager's eldest son, took the opportunity to address the comments of the two squabbling fathers and was quick to put at ease the minds of anyone actually concerned about him not getting any food.

The Kristiansund player, 20, told Tidens Krav: "I laughed a lot on Sunday as well. Max [Williamsen, a team-mate] asked me if I had been given food when he met me before training.

"I always get fed, I can assure everyone about that. Mourinho probably just wanted to take the focus away from the fact they had lost."

Nevertheless, being threatened with a lack of food may not even be necessary for Noah – "I've never been lying down the way Son did," he added.

Jose Mourinho launched a bizarre tirade at Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after the Manchester United boss criticised Tottenham forward Son Heung-min.

United manager Solskjaer expressed his displeasure at Son going to ground in the first half of Sunday's Premier League match between the teams, after Scott McTominay flicked an arm the South Korean's way.

It was a tame midfield incident that led to an Edinson Cavani goal for United being disallowed following a VAR review, and despite Solskjaer seeing his team come from a goal down to win 3-1 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the Norwegian gave a withering verdict of Son's reaction.

Solskjaer pithily told Sky Sports: "I have to say, if my son stays down like this for three minutes and he gets 10 of his mates around him… if he gets that in the face from one of his other mates and he needs 10 mates to help him up, he won't get any food."

Mourinho, who was unhappy and "very, very surprised" that journalists did not ask him about those remarks in a post-match news conference, took it on himself to raise the matter.

The former United boss then delivered a moment of press conference theatre, stridently taking on the man who succeeded him in the Old Trafford hot-seat and even going so far as to intimate Solskjaer's remarks spoke poorly of him as a parent.

"I told Ole already this, because I met him just a few minutes ago," Mourinho said. "If it's me, telling that player A, B, or C from another club, 'If it was my son I wouldn't give him dinner tonight', or something like that, what would be the reaction?"

Addressing reporters, Mourinho said: "It is very, very sad. I think it's really sad that you don't ask me about it. It's really sad that you don't have the moral honesty to treat me the same way you treat others."

The former Chelsea, Inter and Real Madrid boss, whose team blew a half-time lead to lose 3-1 and see their Champions League hopes majorly dented, continued on his theme.

Mourinho said: "In relation to that, I just want to say, Sonny is very lucky that his father is a better person than Ole, because I think a father - I am a father - you have always to feed your kids, it doesn't matter what they do.

"If you have to steal to feed your kids, you steal. I am very, very disappointed, and like we say in Portugal bread is bread and cheese is cheese, I told Ole already what I think about his comments."

Before Mourinho's outburst, Solskjaer had said in his own news conference that the rival bosses remained on good terms.

Solskjaer said: "Sometimes some words are being said. But the most important thing is we're colleagues and friends. Before, during or after a game, you can have a bit of a dispute.

"I think we've got the utmost respect for each other, and I think that's the point here. Sometimes it's some words being said. I had a couple words I could take back at that time."

The remarks from Mourinho came on a day when his team proved weak front-runners once again.

Spurs have dropped 18 points from winning positions in the Premier League this season, second only to Brighton (20).

That is the most points any Mourinho side have dropped from winning positions in a Premier League campaign.

He is also mired in a period of being unable to get the better of his former teams. Mourinho is winless in his last five home matches in all competitions against sides he has previously managed (D2 L3), having won 12 such matches in a row between 2002 and 2018.

Moreover, Mourinho has lost 10 league games in a season for the first time in his managerial career.

While Solskjaer's United sit second, and headed home to Manchester happy with another three points, Mourinho, to borrow a theme, had plenty to chew over.

Jose Mourinho claims Manchester United "big boss" Alex Ferguson would dismiss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's theory that cup trophies can be "an ego thing" for managers.

In almost two and a half years at the Old Trafford helm, Solskjaer has yet to deliver silverware for the club, and he says the team should be judged by their league progress.

United sit second in the Premier League table, which suggests there has been achievement on that front, and they remain in the hunt in the Europa League.

The latter is a tournament that Mourinho won with United, and he also landed an EFL Cup triumph to make it a double in the 2016-17 season.

United lost only five times in the Premier League in that campaign but a league-high 15 draws meant they could only finish sixth, yet in the following campaign they were runners-up to Manchester City.

Mourinho's United career began to unravel, but he left knowing he had helped to replenish the trophy cabinet, and he disagrees with Solskjaer that such moments can be ego-stroking moments for managers and clubs.

"It's his opinion. I'm pretty sure that his big boss Sir Alex has a different opinion about it," Mourinho said, speaking ahead of his Tottenham side's clash with United on Sunday.

"But I respect what Solskjaer thinks. I think different. Freedom of thinking, freedom of ideas, and if that's the way he thinks that's fine for me.

"It's not being disrespectful for anyone. But I believe his big boss and the biggest of Premier League history has a different view in relation to that."

Ferguson's first United trophy was the FA Cup in 1990, which led to a European Cup Winners' Cup the following year, and in 1991-92 his team added a League Cup success.

It was the beginning of an era where United harvested trophies season by season, moving on to the Premier League and peaking at the end of the decade with their most famous Champions League triumph, Solskjaer famously scoring a stoppage-time winner against Bayern Munich.

It was an empire that was built on a foundation of cup success, with that essentially being United's entry level to the most dominant period in their history.

Mourinho and Tottenham had their tails up in October as the visitors rampaged to a 6-1 win at Old Trafford, but they have since slid from title contention to their current sixth place.

They have an EFL Cup final against Pep Guardiola's Manchester City coming up on April 25, however, which could see Spurs secure their first major trophy since 2008, when they won the same competition.

Needing a strong run-in to barge into the top four, it would be hugely helpful to Spurs this weekend if they could end United's 22-match unbeaten away record (W14 D8) in the Premier League and complete a first league double over the Red Devils since the 1989-90 season.

Should they achieve that feat, Mourinho would be the first former United manager since Dave Sexton in 1981-82 with Coventry City to manage such a double.

United will inevitably be wary of the threat posed by Tottenham's Harry Kane, who scored a double in the Old Trafford game and is one goal short of hitting 20 in a Premier League season for the fifth time.

Kane would be just the fourth player in the Premier League era to achieve this feat after Alan Shearer (7 times), Sergio Aguero (6) and Thierry Henry (5).

If anyone gives Tottenham value for money, it must be Kane.

Mourinho spoke about the financial muscle of Manchester City, who rewarded Kevin De Bruyne with a bumper new contract this week, reportedly worth over £16million per season.

The Spurs boss has no problem with De Bruyne doing so well out of his City career, and only wishes he could pay Tottenham's biggest stars such money.

"Good for him. He deserves it, he's a fantastic player," Mourinho said.

"If Pep [Guardiola] or any coach of the top teams has X millions to spend, good for them. No problem. I enjoy to work in my club, I enjoy to do what I'm doing, and I'm not jealous of the ones that can do other things. I would love my players to get the same contract as David de Gea or Kevin De Bruyne."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is "pretty, pretty sure" his Manchester United players will be looking to prove a point when they visit Tottenham on Sunday.

United lost the reverse fixture 6-1 at Old Trafford, their joint-heaviest Premier League defeat and worst since another home humbling in the 2011 Manchester derby.

Spurs looked like title contenders while United were marooned in the bottom half of the table, their hapless display - in which Anthony Martial was sent off - described by former captain Gary Neville as "spineless" and "absolutely pathetic".

But United have recovered to sit second in the table, albeit 14 points behind Manchester City, while Tottenham are sixth.

Jose Mourinho's men are desperate for points but will face motivated opponents at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Solskjaer suggested.

"I think the players will remember that game with a lot of pain," Solskjaer said. "Their pride has been hurt, their professional pride. The manner we lost is not ourselves and our team-worthy. We know that.

"We gave ourselves a difficult game by having 10 men, pre-season was short and we were not up to the standard required, but we were so poor.

"I'm pretty, pretty sure we'll see some players wanting to prove we're better than that."

United took the lead in that match through a second-minute Bruno Fernandes penalty, but that was one of just five shots while Spurs attempted 22.

Solskjaer felt his side's early-season fitness issues were a key contributing factor in that October defeat.

"The biggest thing that we've improved on is our fitness levels," he said. "We were way short of what [Tottenham] were at.

"It was our third game, was it? And we didn't look anything like [ready]."

While that is no longer an issue, there are concerns about the status of Marcus Rashford, who played through a persistent ankle problem at Granada on Thursday and scored a vital goal.

Across Europe's 'top five' leagues, no player has made more appearances in all competitions this season than Rashford (47 - tied with Fernandes).

Indeed, the three most-used players all represent United, with captain Harry Maguire third (46 appearances). Aaron Wan-Bissaka is in a tie for fourth (44).

With 3,466 minutes in the tank despite an injury issue that kept him out of the recent international break, Solskjaer was asked if England should be worried about Rashford ahead of the European Championship.

"I don't think you need to be concerned about his fitness, no - of course, barring any injury," Solskjaer said.

"His fitness is really good, he's an athletic boy, a fit boy, a strong boy. When he goes into headers and challenges, he can look after himself.

"But at one point, of course, you hope to get to a position where he doesn't have to play every game, every minute.

"At the moment, we have to take him off because he's a little bit sore. Hopefully that will improve as the season goes on."

Rashford has been relied on so heavily in part due to Edinson Cavani's limited involvement.

Widely linked with a move to Boca Juniors, Cavani has started only 14 games this term, playing 1,474 minutes, although his tally of seven goals is a match for Martial and outperforms Mason Greenwood (six).

"I've kept in touch with Edi, of course," Solksjaer said. "We keep an open dialogue. He's still unsure what he wants to do next season, which I find fine.

"It's not been an easy year either for him or the rest of the world, so he still wants time to make his mind up.

"I'm very sure that we'll get a good version of Edinson for the rest of the season. Hopefully we can keep him fit the next six, seven weeks."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has doubled down on his claims Jose Mourinho should not have been content with guiding Manchester United to second place during his Old Trafford reign.

Solskjaer and United again go head-to-head with Mourinho on Sunday as the Red Devils visit Tottenham looking to avenge their 6-1 home defeat earlier this season.

Mourinho is looking to become the first former United manager since Dave Sexton in 1981-82, then Coventry City boss, to complete a league double over the club following his departure.

The Portuguese won the EFL Cup and Europa League at Old Trafford but his best league finish was second in 2017-18.

Mourinho claimed that performance, behind record-breaking rivals Manchester City, as one of his "greatest achievements".

But Solskjaer, at the time in his previous role as Molde coach, responded: "I don't think any of the Man United supporters, ex-players or players are happy with second place."

Solskjaer subsequently took charge of United in late 2018 and has only now guided them back to second, again behind City.

Given the opportunity to backtrack and hail both his own and Mourinho's achievement ahead of the Spurs match, Solskjaer refused.

While United have shown signs of progress this season, their manager wants more.

"We should never settle for second place at Man United," he said. "We'll never settle for second place.

"That's the point here - we have seen the heights and know what this club is capable of.

"For me, I've been here now a little while myself and it's taken time for us to be in this position. Hopefully we can be better next season, because this is below our ambitions."

Tottenham could become the first team to record a Premier League double over Solskjaer's United. The ex-Molde coach was last beaten twice by the same side in a league season by Ranheim in the 2018 Norwegian Eliteserien.

In fact, Spurs have never claimed a Premier League double over United, last doing so in the league in the 1989-90 campaign under Terry Venables.

Few would forget the previous meeting between Tottenham and Manchester United – least of all Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The Red Devils manager described the 6-1 battering at Old Trafford as "my worst day ever", and "very embarrassing" as he tried to come to terms with United's heaviest defeat since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 and some deeply worrying performance levels from his players.

It marked the first time since 1986-87 that United had lost their first two league games of a season, with Crystal Palace having humbled them 3-1 on matchday one. The intervening match was a borderline miraculous 3-2 win at Brighton and Hove Albion, when Bruno Fernandes scored a penalty in the 100th minute after the hosts had hit the woodwork five times.

While Jose Mourinho could celebrate vengeance on his old club, fans and pundits feared for his successor. Gary Neville blasted the "spineless" players as "absolutely pathetic"; Patrice Evra, sitting shellshocked in a Sky Sports studio, told the United stars: "Look in the mirror and be honest – you're an embarrassment."

In fact, it seemed Solskjaer was alone in promising United would bounce back. His vow to fight to turn things around sounded almost blindly optimistic, as Spurs suddenly looked the most obvious dark horse to challenge Liverpool and Manchester City in the title race.

And yet, ahead of Sunday's match at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, only one manager is facing serious, persistent questions about his future – and it's not the man from Norway.

Now, it's Spurs who look to be going backwards, as the clamour for a change in the dugout grows and the incumbent looks increasingly unable to fix the problems.

ROLE-REVERSAL

Spurs' 6-1 win moved them to seven points from their first four matches and left United four points and 11 goals behind in the table.

Since that game, the two teams' trajectories have been very different. United have taken 57 points from their most recent 27 matches, 15 more than Spurs, who have played a game less. Solskjaer's men in that time are behind only Man City when it comes to most points, most wins (16), most goals scored (53) and fewest conceded (22), with each side suffering a league-low two defeats.

Spurs, by contrast, have won 12 and lost eight since that Old Trafford visit, scoring 39 goals (the second-lowest in the top seven) and conceding 27 (the joint-most in the top seven). They have lost more times in home games since then (three) than United have in total (two), while the Red Devils have won eight of their most recent 14 away league matches as part of a club-record run of 22 on the road without defeat.

Goals have been a particular concern for Spurs despite the spectacular form of Harry Kane and Son Heung-min. Spurs outperformed their expected goals by nearly a factor of two in the win over United and have surpassed their seasonal xG in the Premier League by eight, showing the benefit of their ruthless centre-forwards. Such figures are always likely to even out eventually: in their most recent game at Newcastle United, xG suggests a 2-2 draw was just about the best result they could have hoped for on the day given the quality of chances they created and conceded.

'A BRITTLE HORSE'

Arsenal loanee Joe Willock's 85th-minute equaliser for Newcastle saw Spurs drop yet more points due to late drama. This season, they have given up 11 points thanks to goals conceded in the final 10 minutes of matches, the most of any side in the division.

Kane's double meant they had been winning at half-time, making that game at St James' Park the sixth in 2020-21 in which they have failed to win after leading at the break – again, the worst such figure in the top flight.

It has become a worrying habit for Mourinho's teams. During his first 120 Premier League games in charge of Chelsea, Mourinho saw his side drop only 14 points from winning positions and just six in their title-winning seasons in 2004-05 and 2005-06. His United side gave up 18 points from winning positions in 93 matches; in 56 games at Spurs, he has watched his players surrender 26 points.

By contrast, United have become better at holding onto results. After giving up 14 points from winning positions last season, they have only surrendered seven in 2020-21, the same number as leaders City. Crucially, they have gained more points from losing positions (25) than any other Premier League side this term, underlining Solskjaer's demands for more "robustness" from his players.

That difference in holding onto points between Mourinho's old and present team has little to do with luck, or 'Spursyness', or even Bruno Fernandes penalties (he's scored four in 17 league games in 2021). Rather, it seems a natural result of stylistic differences, of percentages (mostly) playing out in United's favour.

THE 'UNITED WAY' IS WORKING

While United have scored 53 goals in 27 league games since losing to Spurs – fewer only than Man City (60 in 28) – Mourinho's men have scored 39 in 26, the sixth-best tally in that time frame.

Like Spurs, United are outperforming their xG for this season (by seven), but their superior goalscoring – and results – have emerged from what appears to be a broadly more attacking attitude since that October hammering.

United have attempted 390 shots since that defeat, fewer only than Man City (424). Of those shots, 163 have been on target, just one down on the league leaders. As for Spurs, they have attempted 268 shots in their most recent 26 games – that's the sixth-lowest figure in the league, and three behind Steve Bruce's much-maligned Newcastle United.

It follows that their chances created (186) is also the sixth-lowest number in the division in that time, and 124 behind United, who are again second only to Man City in this category.

The best Mourinho teams have been famously intransigent when it comes to giving up chances to their opponents, but again, Spurs do not fall into such a category. Since beating United, Spurs have faced 337 shots, more than 11 other clubs including north London rivals Arsenal (298), struggling Fulham (297) and Southampton (285). They have conceded 27 goals in that time; only West Ham (33) have let in more among sides currently in the top seven in the table.

In the same time period, United have faced 284 shots – that may only be the sixth-best in the league, but it's a major improvement on Spurs' tally – with only 22 finding a way in.

United are not the finished article, of course, and Spurs could yet end this troubled season with a top-four finish and an EFL Cup. Still, Solskjaer is making much stronger progress than Mourinho – something that seemed implausible six months ago.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was proud of the battling qualities displayed by Marcus Rashford as he played through the pain to help Manchester United beat Granada.

Troubled by a niggling ankle problem, Rashford opened the scoring at the Nuevo Los Carmenes on Thursday, latching onto Victor Lindelof's long pass before finishing with composure.

The goal took Rashford to 20 for the season in all competitions, making him the first United player to hit double figures in consecutive campaigns since Wayne Rooney 11 years ago.

The England forward, who was taken off 10 minutes after scoring in last weekend's 2-1 Premier League win over Brighton and Hove Albion, battled on against Granada before being substituted with a little over 25 minutes left.

Solskjaer, who hopes Rashford will be fit to face Tottenham on Sunday, was delighted with Rashford's impact against stubborn opposition.

"Marcus, fantastic goal," he said. "Great pass by Victor, great run and the skill to bring the ball down like this, we've seen it a few times before, and it's a top, top quality goal.

"It's the same thing as before, he's not recovered from it. Hopefully, it's not got any worse from this. He lasted 60 or 70 against Brighton, 65 now, so hopefully he's ready. I think he should be ready for Sunday."

When asked if he ever told former manager Alex Ferguson he was fully fit to play when struggling with injury, Solskjaer replied: "Yeah, I probably did! I did a few times. It's not like I couldn't perform, but I probably knew I wasn't at 100 per cent. But when are you at 100 per cent as a footballer? I think that's very rare.

"We know he's someone we have to protect, and he was ready, and he was vital for us today."

While comfortable in defence, United offered little threat of a second goal until Bruno Fernandes scored his 19th penalty for the club after being pushed in the face by Yan Eteki.

The Portugal star, who was struggling with his vision in one eye after the foul, squeezed a shot beneath goalkeeper Rui Silva in the 90th minute.

With Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw and Scott McTominay suspended for the second leg after receiving yellow cards, Solskjaer was relieved to be heading back to Old Trafford with a more commanding advantage.

"It was an important goal, the second one. A 1-0 lead, losing three players, is not a good position to be in," he said.

"I don't think we deserved those five yellow cards, but that's happened. I'm delighted with the result, of course.

"[The second goal] is so vital away from home and we've created a good starting point for ourselves next week.

"Scoring with one eye is a skill! He drives the team and drives himself. He's got such enthusiasm and hunger to win and to do well. I've played in teams with a lot stronger personalities than that, to be honest.

"That's the way for us to improve and reach the next level: always demand more, and more, and more."

Shaw was taken off at half-time, but Solskjaer added of the left-back: "I had to protect Luke, but I think and hope he should be okay for the weekend."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sounded an ominous warning to Europa League opponents Granada as he declared scoring goals was in Manchester United's DNA.

United are away to the Spanish side on Thursday for the first leg of their quarter-final tie in a competition that represents their last realistic hope of silverware this season.

Despite having scored only four times in their past five away games in all competitions, United boss Solskjaer insisted his team would go on the offensive.

"I think that's what we do best. It's always going to be in our DNA that we want to go and score goals," he told the club's official website.

"Of course you want a defensive foundation, but we know about away goals and also how good we are at Old Trafford as well.

"We've got a proud record at Old Trafford in Europe, so if we get a good result to build on, that's all we can ask."

United did smash four past Real Sociedad in Turin and also secured a pivotal 1-0 victory against Milan at San Siro, with Solskjaer taking confidence from those performances in the competition. 

"I think we've proved to ourselves and everyone that we are a good side home or away, but of course the neutral game against Sociedad was a very good one for us," he said. 

"We played against a very good team. Granada is a different team and a different set-up than Real Sociedad with different strengths and a different way of playing, so we've got to find a way to get the best possible performance."

Forward Anthony Elanga is in contention to make his United debut and Solskjaer has full faith in the 18-year-old.

The Swedish striker signed a new contract last month and Solskjaer insists he has not only been included in the squad for experience and is ready for action.

"I've got faith in the young lads of course and, in Anthony, we have a player with good skills, a great attitude and he scores goals from either the right or left, and he's got good pace," said the Norwegian.

"He's not just there for experience, he might actually play a part, who knows? He's got that X-factor and I like players with speed and acceleration and he's definitely got that."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has praised David de Gea and Dean Henderson for how they are handling the competition to be Manchester United number one.

Henderson had deputised for De Gea while he was absent from the squad for the birth of his child last month.

But the England international has retained his place in the squad since his fellow goalkeeper's return.

That included, for the first time since the switch was made, a match in the Premier League when United took on Brighton and Hove Albion last time out.

A key week sees United play two away matches. The Red Devils are against Granada in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final on Thursday before taking on Tottenham in the league on Sunday.

Solskjaer was asked about the ongoing battle between his keepers ahead of the trip to Spain.

"Every time I try to explain to players why they aren't playing in this particular game and what they have to do - all those discussions remain private of course," said the United boss.

"David has been a top, top keeper and is still a top, top keeper. He is working to be ready when he plays.

"When it is David or Dean I'm very comfortable to play either of them and I'm pleased that either of them are happy to be a sub. 

"I cannot prioritise the league or Europa League. The next game is the most important one. 

"With the keepers I have two very, very good options and whoever plays will play well I'm sure."

Solskjaer compared the battle for the number one spot to his own playing career at Old Trafford, where he was often part of a squad rotation system and coming up against big-name signings.

He added: "When you are a part of Man United, there will always be players that come in and they are not just there to fill the squad. 

"Everyone has got the ambition to take your shirt. 

"I was there myself as a striker. We signed Ruud van Nistelrooy, Diego Forlan, Louis Saha, we signed loads of top strikers - Teddy Sheringham, Dwight Yorke. 

"The aim for me then was to prove to the manager I could be important. I'm going to give everything I can to play. It's the same whatever position you play. 

"David has had 10 fantastic years at Man United. He's had challengers who of course wanted to play. 

"Sergio Romero has probably played less games than he deserved. Dean comes in and also gives his all. It's a healthy competition, of course it is. 

"The goalkeeping departments are a very tight-knit group. They work together in prep, they have different gym sessions, they stay together more and naturally create a bond.

"The spirit in the goalkeeper department has been top. All of them want to play and that includes Lee Grant, Nathan Bishop and Sergio Romero. That is a competition I like."

United are hot favourites to progress against Granada, who sit ninth in LaLiga and are playing in Europe for the first time this season.

But Solskjaer is not taking them lightly after defeating Serie A heavyweights Milan in the previous round.

He added: "Complacency? No. When you beat Real Sociedad or AC Milan you just get more of a taste for it. You know you have jumped a couple of high hurdles. 

"Granada beating Napoli, getting through the group and then beating Molde last time is a sign of a team that has got quality. 

"It is going to be a difficult game. We have of course set our eyes on the final and improving on last season. We want to win this tournament.

"It is very big for us, of course. The next game is always the most important, we have to live by the principle. 

"If you get the chance to play in a quarter-final in Europe for Man United, every player knows this is a massive game and an important game for you. 

"We have beaten Milan away, we have beaten Real Sociedad, and have drawn against them both at home. This game can give us even more momentum."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is excited by the potential of forward Anthony Elanga, who is in contention to make his Manchester United debut against Granada in the Europa League.

United are away to the Spanish side on Thursday for the first leg of their quarter-final tie in a competition that represents their last hope of silverware this season.

Elanga, 18, has been added to the United squad for the competition and will travel to Spain with the first-team.

The Swedish striker signed a new contract last month and Solskjaer insists he has not only been included in the squad for experience and is ready for action.

Even if his debut does not come against Granada, it sounds like Elanga will be featuring for United soon.

"He'll be in the squad, he'll be on the bench," Solskjaer said about the inclusion of Elanga. "He has impressed when he has been in training with us.

"He was very unlucky when he got a bad injury about two or three months ago because he was about to move into the first-team squad then. He has worked really hard to come back.

"He has got some x-factor, some attributes, it's not like a gift, but the pace and acceleration and speed that he has got - that's a given for wingers.

"When he's got that speed, he's always got qualities I like. He is a confident goalscoring winger.

"He has an appetite and hunger to improve and when he has been training with us the last while he has been here - he has not been fazed by it. 

"He has a lot of quality, speed and he is a goalscorer. He likes to beat men and has a right foot and left foot. 

"He has an appetite to develop and to keep learning. It's not just for the experience. He's ready to play a part."

Forward Amad Diallo, who scored against Milan in the round of 16, is also pushing for a first United start.

"Of course he is [getting closer]," added Solskjaer of the €40million signing from Atalanta.

"He is getting more and more used to our expectations, our standards, our training, the level of intensity in the games over here. 

"He did well when he played 45 minutes against Milan, definitely a bright start, and we will see him gradually start games. 

"It might come now or it might come in a little while."

Defender Eric Bailly is still in the Ivory Coast as he needs a negative coronavirus result before being allowed to return.

Marcus Rashford, meanwhile, was forced to come off against Brighton and Hove Albion last time out, a match in which he scored.

He will travel to Spain after training on Wednesday but Solskjaer will not take any unnecessary risks with the England forward.

The United boss added: "I can't disclose my team now, we're not going to do that. 

"Marcus is travelling and we have got to make a decision if he starts or is on the bench. I don't think he'll be 90-minute man, but let's see where we're at on Thursday.

"I don't pick players when we know there is a risk. There's always a risk when you step out on to the pitch, but if the physio says it's too much of a risk I would never pick him. 

"Now, Marcus joined in training this morning and let's see how he reacts. His back has recovered and it's a tough one. 

"He wants to play and wants to give his all for Man United. We'll listen to what he says like we did on Saturday when he came off and said it was too sore."

Granada are playing in their first European campaign and are the first side since RB Leipzig in 2017-18 to reach the quarter-finals of a major continental competition while doing so.

The last side to reach the semi-finals in such a season was Villarreal in 2003-04 (UEFA Cup).

United, meanwhile, are in the quarter-final stages of a major European competition for the 27th time, progressing from 17 of the previous 26. 

They are winless in the first leg of each of their last three two-legged quarter-final matches in Europe (D2 L1).

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer revealed "the fireworks had to be lit at half-time" after Manchester United roared back to beat Brighton and Hove Albion 2-1 on Sunday.

Danny Welbeck's header against his former club put relegation-threatened Brighton in front at half-time, but United raised their game after the break.

Marcus Rashford equalised with a clinical finish and Mason Greenwood also marked his return from injury with a goal, heading home to secure the points seven minutes from time.

Victory for the Red Devils strengthened their grip on second place, 14 points adrift of champions elect Manchester City with a game in hand and 11 clear of fifth-placed Tottenham.

Solskjaer suggested he delivered a few harsh words at the break after his side failed to register a shot on target during the first half, although Greenwood hit the post early on.

The United boss, who revealed Eric Bailly was absent after testing positive for coronavirus. said: "It's a long way up [to City] but we want to consolidate second place. In the second half, we played some good stuff. The fireworks had to be lit at half-time."

Solskjaer was impressed with the character shown by his side as they produced a fightback to win after conceding first for the eighth time this season.

He said: "You don't really want to be in a position where you're 1-0 down. It was a sloppy mistake in midfield, we don't stop the cross and we don't defend the cross.

"We gave ourselves work to do and then I think we've done that so many times this season that the team doesn't panic.

"We know we have to build momentum, the ball has to move quickly, we have to be more in tandem with each other and the two goals we scored were two good goals to win the game."

Solskjaer preferred Dean Henderson to David de Gea but said the Spanish goalkeeper can force his way back into the team.

"With Dean and David's situation I know it's something that will create headlines, fish and chips wrapping paper in a little while," he added.

"I've got two great goalkeepers and it's about finding games that both will play. Both deserve to play more than what they do and it's just a decision I have to make every time."

Solskjaer stated ahead of the game that Anthony Martial looks set to miss the rest of the season with a knee injury and the United manager will be hoping a knock picked up by Rashford is not serious.

Anthony Martial could miss the rest of the season with a knee injury, Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has confirmed. 

The forward suffered a knee injury in France's World Cup qualifying win over Kazakhstan last weekend.

Should he miss the rest of United's 2020-21 campaign, it seems unlikely he would return to full fitness in time for the rescheduled Euro 2020, which kicks off on June 11. 

Speaking ahead of United's Premier League clash with Brighton and Hove Albion at Old Trafford on Sunday, Solskjaer said: "Unfortunately, he sprained his knee with France.

"It's always when they go away on internationals… you can keep your fingers crossed and hope they come back fit.

"Losing Anthony for what might be the rest of the season is very disappointing, especially when reports from there [France] was that it wasn't anything serious, but it looks a bad one."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer elected to stick with Dean Henderson for Manchester United's clash with Brighton and Hove Albion, despite David de Gea's return.

Henderson started United's previous three Premier League games in the run up to the international break, with De Gea having travelled to Spain to attend the birth of his child.

The England international impressed in those matches, keeping three clean sheets, though he was largely at fault for Milan's equaliser in the first leg of the Europa League last 16 tie – which United eventually won 2-1 on aggregate.

De Gea returned to United's camp in time to feature against Brighton, but instead Solskjaer decided to hand Henderson a chance to continue his strong form.

Henderson did not start any of the England's three World Cup qualifiers during the international break, with Nick Pope given the opportunity to impress in Jordan Pickford's absence.

In front of Henderson, Harry Maguire was given his 100th appearance as a United player, partnering Victor Lindelof, with Luke Shaw replacing Alex Telles, who started in the 3-1 FA Cup reverse to Leicester City two weeks ago.

Despite not featuring for England, Marcus Rashford was passed fit to start against the Seagulls, with Edinson Cavani featuring from the off for the first time in the league since March 3.

Anthony Martial sustained an injury on France duty and did not make the cut, with Solskjaer confirming the forward could be out for the rest of the season.

Mason Greenwood completed United's attack, with Bruno Fernandes, Fred and Paul Pogba making up the midfield.

United head into Sunday's game with history on their side – they have won each of their last five meetings with Brighton in all competitions, netting exactly three goals in each of the last four.

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has ruled out a move for Sergio Aguero due to the soon-to-be free agent's long association with fierce rivals Manchester City.

City confirmed on Monday that Aguero is to bring an end to his decade-long spell at the Etihad Stadium when his contract expires at the end of the campaign.

He will bow out as City's all-time leading scorer, with a current tally of 257 goals in 385 games, the most recent of those appearances coming against Leicester City on Saturday.

The 32-year-old has won four Premier League titles, one FA Cup and five EFL Cups, a tally he can add to before leaving as City remain on course for a quadruple this term, including a first Champions League triumph.

But despite the Premier League's fourth-highest ever goalscorer being available on a free transfer, Solskjaer does not expect Aguero to join one of the Citizens' domestic rivals.

"When I played for Man Utd, if a rival club would try to sign me and I'd gone to a rival club, where's the loyalty?" Solskjaer said.

"Of course, loyalty is one of the values I rank highly. So I wouldn't expect any player who had played for a club for 10 years to want to go to a local rival.

"I know we're professional but when you play for Man Utd, you don't go to Man City."

Peter Schmeichel, Andrew Cole and Carlos Tevez are previous high-profile examples of players to have moved between neighbours United and City during the Premier League era.

In an apparent swipe at some of his former team-mates, Solskjaer criticised those who show a lack of loyalty to their clubs by crossing the divide.

"We've had examples of that and I didn't really agree to those moves, to put it that way. I don't want to name names, but you all know who I point my finger at. Enough said," Solskjaer added.

Cole is one of three players to have scored more goals than Aguero in Premier League history with 187, along with Wayne Rooney (208) and Alan Shearer (260).

Aguero, a £38million signing from Atletico Madrid in July 2011, has scored 181 goals in the English top flight in 272 appearances - a goal every 108.69 minutes.

Among forwards currently at United, Edinson Cavani boasts the best goals-per-game return in the competition with one every 153.5 minutes, albeit having played just 18 games.

Anthony Martial is next on the list, scoring 55 Premier League goals in 167 matches (209.44), followed by Marcus Rashford (221.62) and Mason Greenwood (247.45).

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