Ole Gunnar Solskjaer couldn’t hide his delight with Manchester United’s derby win over Manchester City – but insisted his team are only going to get better. Anthony Martial and Scott McTominay were on target as United sealed a league double and third win in all competitions over City this season to maintain their Champions League qualification hopes.
United had barely 28 per cent possession but limited the visitors at Old Trafford to just four shots on target and Solskjaer was full of praise for his players. “The desire, the attitude, the commitment, the connection between fans and players and the team…” said Solskjaer when asked what he liked about the match.
“What a day they’ve had today, both the players and the fans. Of course, they make us defend – that’s just the type of team they are but if our fans can see players with commitment and attitude and desire then we’ve done our job as a coach today.
“At times we pressed them and pushed them back, we tried to be aggressive with the wing-backs and three up front. When we hit the press I think we made them make mistakes and we’re happy with the result. At times you’d like to defend with the ball but I’m not going to complain.”
Martial latched on to a chipped free-kick from Bruno Fernandes for the opener – a move Solskjaer said had been planned on the training ground – and the Portuguese creator put in another impressive performance in the United midfield. “[Fernandes has energised] the whole place, the whole club,” Solskjaer said in his press conference. “He has everything, he works hard, he is humble and has the desire and commitment but also has the X factor.
“He’s a risk-taker, has courage and is brave enough to make mistakes. If you make enough mistakes they will be corrected into fantastic assists or goals.” Since Fernandes’ arrival in January, United have gone 10 games unbeaten across all competitions and Solskjaer believes the club is now on an upward trajectory.
“It’s a privilege to be the manager of a squad of players with this attitude,” Solskjaer added. “They give us absolutely everything they’ve got every time they play and you can’t ask for more. “We’re going to improve, we’re going to improve as a team, they’re going to improve as players. They want to learn as well and they listen to the advice we give them.
“We know we lack one, two, three players and some experience to be considered title contenders, we know that and we are not going to start talking about that now. We need to talk about getting up the table, getting some points, challenging for the top four because Chelsea and Leicester are too far ahead for my liking.”
Goalscorer McTominay underlined the importance of this win for Manchester United – but also said it had to be a launchpad for a push up the table. “That was such a sweet moment,” he told Sky Sports. “Credit to the boys – they were top drawer. We had a sticky first 15-20 minutes but you see how much it means to the boys to win the derby again.
“It’s a game we have to take confidence from – but then we have to keep this run going. “Every game at Old Trafford is special but these games are special atmospheres. For me it means a lot. It’s beautiful.”