Solskjaer confident of Man Utd response to City setback as FA Cup venture begins

By Peter Hanson 8 January 2021 56
Solskjaer confident of Man Utd response to City setback as FA Cup venture begins

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has no doubt his Manchester United side are ready to bounce back to their EFL Cup disappointment against Manchester City when they host Watford this weekend.

The Red Devils were defeated 2-0 by Pep Guardiola's side at Old Trafford and have now lost each of the four semi-finals they have contested under Solskjaer.

Saturday brings another opportunity when United face the Hornets to start their FA Cup venture this season and Solskjaer expects his team to respond to this latest setback.

"The reaction has been as expected, of course you're disappointed when you go out, we wanted to go one step further but we've shown many times this season we can bounce back after a disappointment," he told a news conference ahead of the third-round tie.

"We did it after defeat against Arsenal, did it after we lost to Tottenham, after we went out of the Champions League - the boys have reacted well.

"I don't envisage anyone with any other mindset than we have to win. We enter the competition wanting to win.

"We have a few players with a few knocks, so there'll be a few changes, but I'll still field a team I feel confident in."

Odion Ighalo was drafted in as emergency cover a year ago following an injury to Marcus Rashford but his loan stint from Shanghai Shenhua comes to an end this month.

Solskjaer expects to give the striker game time against his former club, while he also offered an update on Argentine duo Sergio Romero and Marcos Rojo – both of whom are being tipped with January exits with their contracts to expire at the end of the season.

"It's special for him [Ighalo] against Watford, he will be involved," Solskjaer added.

"He's training really well, I don't know how many goals he scored today but by miles he was our top scorer in the round robin in training. 

"He's not lost sharpness or quality, it's difficult to be out of the squad of course. He did well until the summer. This season he's not had as many opportunities but he's never let himself down as a professional or a human being. 

"In training he always works hard. He's in the squad, hopefully I don't need to put him on to need goals but hopefully he can join in."

On Romero and Rojo, he added: "Both of them have contracts until the summer, they're not gonna be extended so we're looking for them to find clubs. 

"Marcos has been given time to go home, so he's still in Argentina. Sergio he has been back home as well to see family but he's back in England now. They're professionals, working hard and ready if they're called in for us. Marcos would have to travel in and do quarantine before."

Solskjaer, who confirmed Facundo Pellistri has tested positive for coronavirus but has not been involved with the first team, was asked about the worrying rise in COVID-19 cases across the Premier League.

The Norwegian acknowledged the growing concern for society but is keen for the competition not to be halted.

"First of all, you're worried what's happening in society and in and around the country," he said. 

"I personally feel safe within our bubble, I think we've taken all the steps that we've had to follow protocols, guidelines. The club have been good and the players are following the rules as well as they can. 

"Of course what's happening at different clubs and society is frightening, we have a duty to try and stay clear, stay within bubbles.

"I hope we can continue playing, I think it's [football] had a positive impact – I feel it as well at home when you don't have a game you're looking forward to watching football on the tele. The mental wellbeing of football has been a big positive, I think."

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Peter Hanson

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