Ole Gunnar Solskjaer vowed Manchester United will conduct their transfer business in "the right way" as he refused to discuss a possible move for Erling Haaland.

Borussia Dortmund striker Haaland is a player coveted by a host of European giants, with Barcelona, Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City thought to have looked at the 20-year-old Norway international.

His father, former Leeds United and Manchester City player Alf-Inge Haaland, and agent Mino Raiola arrived in Spain on Thursday and reportedly headed for talks with new Barcelona president Joan Laporta.

There were also claims that Haaland senior and Raiola held discussions with senior Real Madrid officials on the same day. Dortmund director Michael Zorc said the Bundesliga club had "made our intentions very clear" to Raiola, which was generally taken to mean that Haaland will not be allowed to leave on the cheap this year, if at all.

Solskjaer would surely love to bring compatriot Haaland to United, having previously coached him at Molde, but he is not prepared to allow such club business to carry on in the public eye.

"There's only so many places that a player can go to and for us, we want to focus on the ones who are here," Solskjaer said. "I've worked with Erling, but it's not right for me to talk about him. I can talk about him as an ex-coach of his, but he will make his own mind up.

"Who we're in for and who we will go for, I'm not going to comment on that."

Since leaving Salzburg to join Dortmund in mid-season during the 2019-20 campaign, Haaland has scored 49 goals in 49 games across all competitions at club level, including 33 in 31 appearances this term.

Only Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski (67) and Juventus' Cristiano Ronaldo (55) have scored more club goals among players from Europe's top five leagues during the same 15-month period.

Among players with at least 25 goals in that time, only one has beaten Haaland's big chance conversion rate of 62.5 per cent.

Opta defines a big chance as "where a player should reasonably be expected to score", and the player who has bettered Haaland's rate is already at United, with Bruno Fernandes finishing 69.44 per cent of such opportunities.

Solskjaer hinted United could announce some surprise signings, given the way he prefers the club to operate.

He said: "I think the way the world works at the moment, you'd like to do all your business on the quiet. But there's platforms everywhere, the media makes that more difficult. But hopefully we can see soon with players that no one has written about. We conduct our recruitment business, scouting and the players we're interested in, we do it the right way."

United face Brighton and Hove Albion in the Premier League on Sunday, and Solskjaer's choice of goalkeeper will come under scrutiny, with Dean Henderson and David de Gea battling to be the established number one.

Given Henderson is now an England squad member, sitting on the bench is not ideal for the 24-year-old's development, yet De Gea has been a near fixture in the United team for a decade.

"I understand the question and the narrative in the media," Solskjaer said. "Where there can be potential tension or controversy, that's where everyone wants to hear a comment from me.

"What I can say is what I've said so many times, that I've got great options playing the two of them. Top keepers but of course both want to play as much as possible. That will be decided on merit. We'll have to see who we think is going to give us a win on any given day."

De Gea has seen more action for United this season, playing 2,565 minutes across all competitions to Henderson's 1,695 minutes. But it is Henderson who has clearly the better save percentage, with a 79.03 per cent success rate compared to 65.09 per cent achieved by De Gea.

"They both know we value them highly," Solskjaer said. "It's a difficult decision to leave one of them out."

Whether one of the goalkeepers leaves in the next transfer window is one of a number of matters for Solskjaer to consider.

The former Cardiff City manager, whose side sit second in the Premier League heading into the weekend, says United have a strong sense of how their ins and outs will transpire in the close season.

"Of course, we have a plan ahead. It's a plan that we think is going to happen," he said.

"There are obviously a couple of players where their future is not decided yet. Some without contracts, some with contracts and we do have a certain picture of how we think the squad is going to look in August."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Paul Pogba can help Manchester United get their spark back as the midfielder prepares to make his Premier League return.

Pogba is set to play his first top-flight game in almost two months since suffering a thigh injury against Everton on February 6.

Following his return from injury he scored in the Europa League against Milan and featured against Leicester City in the FA Cup prior to the international break, when he played three times for France to continue building up his fitness.

United have only scored more than one goal in one of their last eight games across all competitions.

But Solskjaer hopes a refreshed Pogba can help to reverse that trend, starting with Sunday's home Premier League clash against Brighton and Hove Albion.

"It is a massive boost," Solskjaer said about the return of Pogba. "He has come back bright and is ready to go. 

"We know how important he will be for us and how important he has been. 

"To have players of his quality out for longer periods shows the quality of the others, that we have done so well. 

"But towards the end of this season having Paul back fit and getting our forwards firing again, hopefully we can get that spark back and score more goals again."

Forwards Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood are in contention to play if they emerge unscathed from training on Friday and Saturday.

Edinson Cavani is also poised to continue his comeback after a frustrating run of injuries.

But fellow attacker Anthony Martial and defender Victor Lindelof missed the first of those two training sessions.

Brighton have won consecutive matches against Southampton and Newcastle United going into the clash with the Red Devils.

Solskjaer added: "Since I came we have played them quite a few times and we have always had some hard-fought games, difficult games. 

"When you prepare for a game against Brighton you can see all our players with bright eyes because they respect the way they play and the quality they have had against us. 

"We know we have to be on our best to earn the right to play. You have to work really hard to get the ball off them."

Brighton have never won away against Manchester United in 12 previous visits, losing on each of their last six trips to Old Trafford.

United are looking to keep five consecutive Premier League clean sheets for the first time since August 2017, when they were managed by Jose Mourinho.

But if Brighton are able to win a third straight top-flight game, it will be the first time they have achieved the feat since October 2018.

They would also become the first team in over a decade to win away at both Liverpool and United in the same Premier League season.

Manchester United have been let down by "sloppy results" this season but are constantly improving under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, according to midfielder Scott McTominay.

Solskjaer's side were eliminated from the FA Cup by Leicester City in the last match before the two-week international break – their first domestic away loss in 30 matches.

United were also knocked out of the EFL Cup by Manchester City at the semi-final stage and exited the Champions League in the group phase earlier in the campaign.

However, the Red Devils have advanced past Real Sociedad and Milan to reach the last eight of the Europa League, where Granada await, while they sit second in the Premier League.

United may be 14 points adrift of leaders Manchester City, albeit with a game in hand, but McTominay believes they are heading in the right direction.

"We've got a good group of players with top, top quality," he told ESPN.

"People are quite quick to forget how well we've done at times. It's the sloppy results that have let us down. This team is evolving. It's not a time to panic."

McTominay has appeared 39 times for United in all competitions this season, which is the most times he has featured for his boyhood club since making his debut in 2016-17.

He ranks particularly highly among United midfielders in the Premier League this term for duels won, his average of 6.54 per 90 minutes behind only Paul Pogba (8.08).

The Scotland international's game has also improved in other areas since last season.

McTominay's average of 46.54 successful passes per game in the top flight is an increase on 41.59 from last season, while his passing accuracy has gone from 80.91 per cent in 2019-20 to 87.58 this term.

Meanwhile, his tally of four goals puts him behind only Bruno Fernandes (16) in regards to United's highest-scoring midfielders.
 
"'I'm not perfect every game and I know that," McTominay said as he looked ahead to the future. "I've got a lot to improve on but there's also things I do well so I'm just trying to improve and kickstart my game to another level. 

"I just want to do my best. It's about consistency and playing well over the course of a season."

United return to action on Sunday with a Premier League meeting with Brighton and Hove Albion at Old Trafford, where they will be aiming to make it six wins in a row against the Seagulls in all competitions, netting exactly three times in the last four.

Manchester United have confirmed Nicky Butt will leave his role as head of first-team development within the club's academy.

Butt has spent the past nine years working in United's academy, in coaching and player development.

A former team-mate of United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Butt won six Premier League titles, three FA Cups, the Champions League and the Intercontinental Cup during his 12-year stint as a first-team player at Old Trafford.

He left for Newcastle United in 2004 but returned to the Red Devils as part of the coaching staff in 2012, spending time as the United Under-23s interim manager in 2016-17.

During his time in charge of player development, current United stars Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood, Scott McTominay, Dean Henderson and Axel Tuanzebe have all progressed through the ranks.

"Having come through the academy myself to play almost 400 games for United, it has been an absolute privilege to come back and work with a new generation of talent making that same journey," Butt told the club's official website.

"I'm proud of the role everyone on the staff plays in giving our young footballers the best possible chance of fulfilling their potential, and the results are clear to see in the increased number of homegrown players reaching the first team."

Solskjaer added: "Nicky will always be a legend of United as a six-time Premier League winner and, of course, an integral part of our treble-winning team.

"That pedigree has made him a great source of guidance and inspiration to our academy players since he returned to the club. We are all going to miss him but Nicky knows he will always be welcome back."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is doing an "incredible" job as Manchester United manager, according to former team-mate David Beckham.

In two and a half years since he initially took over on an interim basis at Old Trafford, Solskjaer has helped to restore a positive atmosphere and style of play at United since the damaging final few weeks of Jose Mourinho's time in charge.

United finished third in the Premier League last season and are on course to improve to second in 2020-21, although Manchester City appear set to be crowned champions.

However, silverware has eluded the former Norway striker. United were beaten in three semi-finals last season, lost to Manchester City in the last four of the EFL Cup in December and were knocked out of the FA Cup at the quarter-final stage by Leicester City last Sunday.

Solskjaer has claimed that winning trophies is not necessarily a good marker of a team's development, but those comments, combined with United's inability to reach cup finals and their Champions League exit group-stage last December, has led to suggestions he is not the right man to take the Red Devils onto the next stage of their development.

But Beckham, who won five Premier League titles, the Champions League and FA Cup while Solskjaer's United team-mate from 1996 to 2003, insists he can ride out the criticism and continue to do good work.

"I've seen some of the criticism but I suppose when you are a manager of Man United when they've had success over the years that they've had, there was always going to be a point where people get criticised, whether it's the players, whether it's the owners, whether it's the manager," the Inter Miami co-owner told ESPN.

"Ole's been in the game long enough to be able to take any kind of criticism. He's very quiet, he gets on with his job, and I think he's done an incredible job down at United.

"The results are starting to show that. Hopefully, it continues because the fans love Ole, we all love Ole and we all want him to do well. So, when the criticism comes, he's one person that can take it."

Luke Shaw has thanked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for "managing me right" after earning an England recall.

Shaw has been one of United's standout performers this term and is back in the international fold for the first time in two years, as Gareth Southgate's squad prepare for World Cup qualifiers against San Marino, Albania and Poland.

Those matches will be the Three Lions' last before Southgate names his squad for the rescheduled Euro 2020, with former Southampton youngster Shaw looking set to contest a starting berth with Chelsea left-back Ben Chilwell.

It is a far cry from the 25-year-old's time under Jose Mourinho at OId Trafford, where public criticism from his manager appeared to do more harm than good as he struggled for form, fitness and confidence.

"[Solskjaer's] man-management is second to none. The way he conducts himself in terms of how he speaks to the players, it gets the best out of them," Shaw told Sky Sports.

"You can see that. He deals with situations perfectly in terms of what is needed, especially at a big club like Manchester United.

"He takes the pressure off the lads and takes it all himself.

"Sometimes it is not fair because we are the ones on the pitch and we need to take our fair share too.

"For me, especially, from what I had before Ole came in, it is a total difference. It has pushed me to a new level."

Mourinho infamously decried an apparently promising Shaw performance versus Everton in April 2017 as "his body and my brain", telling reporters his constant instructions from the sidelines were a big factor in the defender impressing.

"I had no confidence at that time. I was losing my belief," Shaw said.

"I think that is what changed with Ole. He managed me right and I got my confidence back and I am really enjoying it at the moment."

Confidence is certainly not an issue for Shaw right now, as he contributes for United in all aspects of the game.

His 52 chances created are the most by any defender in the Premier League this season.

In open play, he has delivered 67 crosses and has five assists this season – crediting the arrival of experienced striker Edinson Cavani at Old Trafford with encouraging him to take a more active role as a creator in the team.

"I never used to cross it as much as I should have done," he said.

"It helps to have Edi and that threat in the box. It means that if you do deliver a ball he will be there to fight for it and give everything he can to win it.

"Since he came in, the lads up front have seen how he works and what he does. They are trying to copy what he does in the box so there is definitely more movement.

"It means that you don't have to hit a man, you just have to hit a space and someone will be in there."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insisted he had no regrets over his team selection after Manchester United lost 3-1 at Leicester City in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.

Former Manchester City striker Kelechi Iheanacho scored twice either side of Youri Tielemans' solo strike as Brendan Rodgers' men booked a Wembley semi-final against Southampton.

Mason Greenwood equalised shortly before half-time in a rare moment of inspiration for United, as Paul Pogba and Donny van de Beek combined to fine effect.

But the midfield duo were only fit to play for an hour, having recently returned to action, and Bruno Fernandes was unable to have a decisive impact from the bench.

Solskjaer felt such juggling was a necessity after a packed schedule in which his side overcame Milan in the Europa League on Thursday.

"I would have started the same team again. We felt [Pogba and Van de Beek] had more than 45 minutes in them," he said.

"They're important players for us, that's why we started them.

"We picked a team that we felt was going to win the game or give us a foundation to win the game.

"We knew players like Donny and Paul wouldn't last more than an hour."

Fernandes' 23 goals and 13 assists mean he leads the way in both categories for United this season.

However, among outfield players, only captain Harry Maguire (3,945) and fellow defender Aaron Wan-Bissaka (3,651) have played more minutes than the Portugal playmaker's 3,488 for the Red Devils across all competitions.

"Every team selection has reasons behind it. Bruno has played very, very much football," Solskjaer said.

"The boy is a human being. He has played a game every three or four days.

"It was a chance to start both Donny and Paul. The accumulation of games maybe caught up with us.

"With Bruno, I know he wants to play but sometimes you make decisions for the benefit of both the team and him."

While plenty of managers will be apprehensive about the forthcoming international break and what it might mean for their players at the business end of the season, Solskjaer believes it comes at a good time for certain members of his squad.

"I think the international break will give Paul and Donny chances to play, it'll give Anthony [Martial] a chance to go away," he said.

"They will get a change of scenery. You get energy from that. The boys have been at Carrington training ground now every day for a long, long time.

"The break comes at a good time and we'll be ready at Easter, don't worry about that."

Solskjaer added: "If and when we're successful, we have to handle [fixture congestion] and hit a higher level than we did today.

"That's what we're striving towards and, under these circumstances, which are unprecedented, I've been impressed by my boys.

"They've been excellent. The run we've been on has been excellent. Unfortunately we couldn't find our normal selves tonight and sometimes that happens."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer pinned the blame for Manchester United's limp FA Cup exit on his side's hectic schedule as they suffered a 3-1 quarter-final loss at Leicester City.

United were beaten by a double from in-form Kelechi Iheanacho and one from Youri Tielemans at the King Power Stadium as the Foxes secured just a second victory over the Red Devils in 26 meetings in all competitions.

Mason Greenwood's first-half leveller – his first goal in 16 games – ended up being a mere consolation for the visitors as Brendan Rodgers marked his 100th game in charge by leading Leicester to their first FA Cup semi-final since 1982.

For United, it was a first away defeat in domestic competition since January 19 last year, with manager Solskjaer citing a busy fixture list that has recently included a tough two-legged Europa League tie with Milan.

"We didn't have the spark, but it's understandable," he told BBC Sport. "This team have been fantastic in the last three or four months. We played every three days and have been on a great run. It just caught up with us, all the games and travel.

"Thursday night in Milan was a big night and took a lot of out of us physically. We didn't have the extra zip, authority and confidence.

"We tried to get on the front foot and start well because sometimes you can get that adrenaline boost and confidence if you get a goal and that can carry you over the line.

"We've got too many players that have played too many games and too many that haven't really had much football; Anthony Martial, Donny van de Beek, Paul Pogba and others are trying to get in who haven't had enough football. We didn't have enough against a tough team."

The first goal came about after a woeful mistake from Fred, whose attempted pass back to Dean Henderson gifted former Manchester City striker Iheanacho a simple finish.

But the Norwegian refused to point the finger at any individuals, insisting such mistakes come with the territory of playing out from deep.

"We want to build from the back and want the players to be confident," he said. "Sometimes it doesn't work and that's one time it didn't.

"When we win, we win together, and when we lose, we lose together. We're not pointing fingers and blaming.

"The second one is a good goal by the boy but maybe with a zip of energy we could've got to him and wouldn't have been done as easily in the middle.

"That's been one of our strengths, keeping clean sheets and being dogged, but we didn't have the opportunity."

Solskjaer is now looking ahead to what remains of United's season, which still holds the prospect of continental silverware and a shot at sealing second spot in the Premier League.

"We've got the Europa League and Premier League to concentrate on," he said. "Yes, we would've liked to go to Wembley, but now all the focus is on the games we do have.

"We're in a good position in the league and we want to keep improving; of course, Leicester are just behind us, so it won't be easy, but we want to keep going and get as far as possible in the Europa as well."

Marcus Rashford will likely link up with the England squad next week despite a foot injury keeping him out of the FA Cup quarter-final on Sunday, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said.

The forward was hurt during Manchester United's 1-0 win over Milan in the Europa League last-16 second leg at San Siro on Thursday.

Rashford struggled to walk on Saturday and United manager Solskjaer confirmed scans showed he has sustained damage, meaning he was unavailable for the clash with Leicester City at the King Power Stadium.

Anthony Martial returned from a hip injury to take Rashford's place in attack, while Paul Pogba and Donny van de Beek were also recalled to the starting line-up after only recently regaining full fitness.

Solskjaer said Rashford was never likely to feature against Leicester, but he will not stop the 23-year-old from joining up with Gareth Southgate's Three Lions squad for this month's World Cup qualifiers.

"No, he wasn't close [to playing]," Solskjaer told BBC Sport. "We took him off [against Milan] and he thought he'd be ready but, yesterday, he had no chance of walking on his foot.

"The scans show there's an injury there but, of course, we've got players coming back – Anthony and Donny are back in, so there are positives as well.

"The doctor will speak to the English [national team] but I think he'll travel and report [for international duty]. Maybe he'll be fit for them."

England face San Marino next Thursday before further matches against Albania on March 28 and Poland on March 31.

 

 

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer confirmed the club are in contract discussions with Edinson Cavani.

Cavani joined United as a free agent on a one-year deal at the start of the season and the 34-year-old has impressed in Manchester, where the Uruguayan has scored seven goals and supplied two assists across 25 appearances in all competitions.

Paris Saint-Germain's all-time leading scorer, Cavani has been linked with Argentine powerhouse Boca Juniors following comments made by his father Luis.

But Solskjaer said United – second in the Premier League standings – are in talks with Cavani over his future at Old Trafford.

"We're speaking to Eddy," Solskjaer said ahead of Sunday's FA Cup quarter-final against Leicester City.

"Edinson is a top striker and whatever he decides to do, let's see. We're in good dialogue with him.

"We want a competitive squad and we need someone up there to score the goals for us. So we're looking at it."

Earlier this month, Cavani's father Luis claimed the veteran was not happy in the Premier League and "would like to play for Boca".

"My son is not happy in England and wants to return nearer his family. He wants to play in South America," he told TyC Sports.

"I want Edinson to play for a team which fights for important trophies. He has had many conversations with [Boca vice-president Juan Roman] Riquelme and would like to play for Boca.

"At the halfway point of the year, he'd like to return to South America. My son’s idea is not to continue there [in Manchester]. He wants to return.

"I think he's going to come back in June this year."

Cavani Sr cited his son's punishment by the Football Association (FA) for using a racially insensitive word in a social media post as a factor in his unhappiness.

"There are things which sometimes annoy us as humans, as people. The whole ban issue annoyed him," Luis Cavani added.

"That has been playing on him, sometimes players can't find form either. These things can weigh heavy on you. Sometimes mentally you can get dragged down."

Manchester United remain in talks with Paul Pogba over a new contract but they are not the immediate focus of the midfielder, according to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. 

Pogba came off the bench to send United into the quarter-finals of the Europa League, his close-range finish securing a 1-0 win at San Siro and a 2-1 aggregate success over Milan. 

The France star is out of contract at the end of next season and has been heavily linked with a return to Juventus. 

Solskjaer believes Pogba's performance illustrated his affection for the club, but contract discussions are not at the forefront of his mind. 

"I think everyone in the team, Paul included, are just focused on doing as well as we can this season," Solskjaer told a media conference ahead of Sunday's FA Cup quarter-final with Leicester City.   

"I don't think any energy would be used on the speculation. Of course we've got discussions and talks, when you see Paul playing like this, back training, it shows how much he cares for us, how much he enjoys playing and how much we can benefit from him playing." 

Solskjaer is not anticipating Pogba playing the full game against Leicester, though he is confident the World Cup winner can still have an influence. 

"We'll have to see how long he can play," Solskjaer added. "I don't think he can last 90 minutes, I'm not sure he can start. 

"You see the impact he can make if he comes on as a sub. If he feels ok, maybe we can start him as well. I hope he's ready to start."

Marcus Rashford is a doubt after making way for Pogba with an apparent injury, while Edinson Cavani could again miss out with a knock. 

Anthony Martial has missed the last two games with a hip injury, though he has still been picked in the France squad for this month's World Cup qualifiers. 

However, Solskjaer is not concerned by Martial's inclusion by Didier Deschamps. 

"I just want Anthony fit. Same with Paul, we just want them to go and play. They've missed too many games," said Solskjaer.  

"This was a hip injury he got against Milan a week ago. We hoped he was going to be ready for West Ham. Then he couldn't make that one, he was close to getting fit for this one [Milan second leg], hopefully he'll make Sunday. 

"We're not sure, because it's not reacted how we'd want. It'll just benefit him if he's fit enough to go with France and play."

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer praised Dean Henderson after the goalkeeper kept another clean sheet as the Red Devils eliminated Milan in the Europa League.

Paul Pogba returned from a 10-game injury absence to lead United into the quarter-finals on Thursday, his goal within three minutes of being introduced at half-time securing a 1-0 win over Milan at San Siro.

Henderson's late error gifted Milan an away goal and 1-1 draw in last week's opening leg in Manchester but the Englishman – deputising in the absence of regular number one David de Gea – redeemed himself in the return fixture, producing a close-range save to thwart Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Vying with De Gea for a starting berth, Henderson has now kept 11 clean sheets in just 18 appearances for United in all competitions this season, one more than the Spanish star has registered in 29 games (10).

"It's a save he should have made last week. It's very similar," Solskjaer said with a smile after being asked about Henderson's confidence.

"No, very pleased for him, of course. Great save. The team is always giving us everything. It starts from the front four with the pressing, really high energy pressing, and then of course the back six and the keeper, we know what they can do.

"Very happy with our defensive foundation. That gives us the platform to go and win games."

United joined Arsenal, Roma, Ajax, Dinamo Zagreb, Slavia Prague, Villarreal and Granada in the Europa League last eight.

The Premier League giants have only lost one of their past 20 knockout-stage matches in the Europa League (W12 D7), a 2-1 defeat to Sevilla in last season's semi-final.

Asked if there is feeling that United can go all the way and claim silverware in 2020-21, Solskjaer replied: "Let's see who we get in the next draw.

"Of course, we're really happy because we've beaten a fantastic, historically fantastic club and a very good team, that is on the way up. "Very pleased with everyone. Of course, we want to go all the way. It was hard to lose in the semi-final last season."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hopes Paul Pogba can give Manchester United a "big boost for the rest of the season" after he made an instant impact on his return from injury.

Having not featured in United's previous 10 games, Pogba scored within three minutes of coming on as a substitute against Milan in the Europa League, his goal securing a 1-0 victory in the second leg at San Siro.

The result was enough to see the Premier League side progress 2-1 on aggregate, meaning they will be in Friday's quarter-final draw.

Solskjaer was delighted to have the France international available again, particularly as he had been in such outstanding form prior to suffering a thigh problem against Everton in early February.

"We've missed Paul. He's been out for over two months and any team would miss a player like Paul Pogba," Solskjaer told BT Sport.

"He was just getting into his best form. He's very important for us and will give us a big boost for the rest of the season. Today, he made a very, very big difference."

United had conceded a late equaliser in the first leg at Old Trafford, yet this time they held firm to keep a clean sheet against their Italian opponents.

Goalkeeper Dean Henderson produced an excellent save to deny Zlatan Ibrahimovic an equaliser, while Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire excelled in defence for the visitors.

The centre-backs both made five clearances, plus the same number of interceptions each, though Solskjaer was pleased with how the whole team had worked so hard to keep Milan at bay.

"You give yourselves a chance to win games of football [with clean sheets]," the Norwegian said.

"Dean had a fantastic save towards the end, from the big lad (Ibrahimovic). I'm very pleased with everyone and their defending, right from the front.

"Dan James, Mason [Greenwood], Marcus [Rashford] and Bruno [Fernandes] - the front four pressing like they do.

"We always know that the back six – with Scott [McTominay], Fred and the back four – always give everything."

Solskjaer felt United should have had an early penalty following Fikayo Tomori's challenge on James, the referee's decision to refrain from awarding a foul ultimately not costly.

But Solskjaer said it demonstrated just how cup ties can hinge on key decisions.

"You've got to be spot-on in cup competitions. Anything can happen," the United boss said.

"Today, I think it's a penalty on Dan James in the first minute, or five minutes, whatever. Sometimes you get it, sometimes you don't. If you get that against you, anything can happen in cup competitions.

"We are through, we're confident and we're looking forward to the draw."

The Red Devils have an FA Cup quarter-final against Leicester City to come at the weekend, their last fixture before the international break.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes success in the Premier League will be the ultimate barometer of whether Manchester United are "back".

The 20-time English champions have not lifted a trophy since Jose Mourinho led them to EFL Cup and Europa League glory in 2016-17.

United are back in Europa League action against Milan at San Siro on Thursday, with a place in the last-16 on the line after a 1-1 draw in last week's home leg.

Solskjaer, who succeeded Mourinho midway through the 2018-19 season, would love to bring silverware back to the club he played for in such decorated fashion.

However, he feels United's position in second place in the Premier League – and as the only team to beat leaders Manchester City in their past 32 matches – stands as the best measure of their progress, irrespective of whether there is an new addition to the Old Trafford trophy room at the end of the campaign.

"I've been here two-and-a-half of those [trophy-less] years now. I felt a big rebuild had to be made," he told a pre-match news conference.

"It's in the league position where you see if there's been any progress. That's the bread and butter of the season. You see how capable you are, coping with ups and downs.

"A cup competition can give you a trophy but sometimes it's more of an ego thing – we've finally won something!

"We need to see progress and if we progress and perform well enough the trophies will end up at the club again.

"But it's not like a trophy will say that we're back. It's about the gradual progression and consistency of being in and around the top of the league.

"Sometimes a cup competition can hide the fact that you're still struggling a little bit."

One United player who is struggling is Anthony Martial, who will be absent as he recovers from the hip injury he suffered during last week's game against Milan.

David de Gea is back in contention following paternity leave, although Dean Henderson has been Solskjaer's first choice for Europa League matches this season.

Edinson Cavani, Paul Pogba and Donny van de Beek are all back in contention after returning to training this week, although Solskjaer did not wish to discuss speculation over the future of the latter midfielder after an underwhelming maiden campaign at Old Trafford to date.

"There's always speculation here," he said.

"As we've said they've been involved in the training session, so let's see if there's any reaction or not.

"Donny has been working really hard to get back available for the final stages of the season."

Loanee Diogo Dalot is set to feature once more for Milan against his parent club but Solskjaer insists the Portuguese full-back has a future at United.

"Yeah, the plan was always for Diogo this season to get fit. He never managed to be fit for a long spell when he was here, unfortunately," he explained.

"Now he's kept fit all season. He's playing at a big club with big expectations and a great history. It's been a good year for him.

"He's our player and we're looking forward to getting him back."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs to win a trophy this season to demonstrate how Manchester United have made real progress, according to Gary Neville. 

United further enhanced their chances of a top-four finish in the Premier League with a 1-0 win over fifth-placed West Ham on Sunday, courtesy of an own goal from Craig Dawson in the second half. 

The victory, following on from their derby triumph over runaway leaders Manchester City a week earlier, sees Solskjaer's squad sit second in the table. 

However, former Red Devils defender Neville feels finishing as the closest team to Pep Guardiola's title winners is not enough, citing the importance of securing silverware ahead of a potentially pivotal transfer window. 

United have an FA Cup quarter-final at Leicester City coming up, though before then they face Milan in the second leg of a delicately balanced Europa League tie, the teams having drawn 1-1 at Old Trafford last Thursday following a dramatic late equaliser from the Italian side. 

"The FA Cup has become critical to this football club this season. The League Cup and FA Cup has been the starting point for Manchester United teams over the last 15 to 20 years," Neville said on his podcast for Sky Sports. 

"If Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is going to be successful at this club, he not only needs to finish second in the Premier League, but he has to win a trophy. That would be seen as real progress. Then you're attracting players next season to try and catch Manchester City. 

"I think it's a brilliant week. Beating Manchester City the way they did, and winning on Sunday.

"If you'd have said to Solskjaer at the start of the week you'll beat Manchester City, beat West Ham and draw 1-1 with Milan, he'd have snapped your hand off. Going into that Manchester derby, they were under real pressure."

As for the fight to finish in the top four in the league, Neville feels the current situation – with Leicester and Chelsea sitting behind the two Manchester clubs – will be the same at the end of the campaign. 

West Ham only sit three points behind Chelsea with a game in hand over their London rivals, while those below them – Everton, Tottenham and Liverpool – have failed to show signs they can put a run of results together to mount a genuine challenge. 

"Leicester are the one team you'd be most nervous about, because they did blow up last season. But I think there's just enough this year," the ex-England international said. 

"I don't see West Ham catching Leicester, and the teams below them are so inconsistent and seem to be all over the place. I'm not sure which one of them is going to put a run together.” 

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