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‘Man Utd haven’t moaned, they’ve just got on with it’ – No secret to success against big boys, says Red Devils coach

09:00 GMT 20/12/2019
Harry Maguire Manchester United Manchester City
Kieran McKenna believes there are a number of reasons why Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have fared better against so-called “better sides” this season

There is “no simple answer” as to why Manchester United continue to fare better against the so-called “better teams” in the Premier League, says Kieran McKenna, with the Red Devils merely looking to do their best every time they take to the field.

That approach has not always delivered the desired end results, with inconsistency proving to be an issue once again at Old Trafford on 2019-20.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has, however, found an answer when it comes to competing with the elite, as United have taken points off Liverpool, Manchester City, Leicester, Chelsea and Tottenham.

It has been suggested that the Red Devils are better suited to facing sides that take them on, rather than sit back and defend, but McKenna claims there is more to it than that.

He believes selection dilemmas have made an impact at times, with United having never moaned despite seeing key men – such as Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial – ruled out at various untimely intervals.

McKenna told MUTV when quizzed on why United have been able to hold their own in heavyweight contests and struggled in others: "Yeah, there is a lot of different bits to add on.

"No simple answer why we do better against better sides. We've had some big injuries in the middle course of first-half of season which have had a big impact, but as club we have got on with it best we can.

"Nobody has moaned, we have just got on with it. Things like that have made an impact but certainly as staff we are always looking to develop the team and look at why we play better against some of the teams who want to come and play us toe-to-toe and who to come and have an open and expansive game against us.

"We are looking to develop the team in other games when the conditions are different that is something we, and the players, are aware of. There are different reasons and we are looking to develop the group over the next period."

Pressed further on whether United favour a counter-attack approach, McKenna added: "I think there are so many different facets to it.

"Within the club and certainly within the staff we analyse deeply. We look at the performances and where we can get better, and don't listen too much to the outside noises.

"I think in a lot of the big games; Liverpool, Tottenham, Arsenal, Leicester I think we have tested teams really high, got after them and managed to be really positive when on the front foot with good energy.

"In a lot of them games we have gotten the lead and obviously in that situation you end up defending your lead a little bit deeper and looking on the counter-attack. But it is so multi faceted and I think it is important as staff, and as players, we analyse where we are strong and where we need to improve."

United have more testing encounters to come in 2020, with a run of games against Watford, Newcastle and Burnley to end the current calendar year set to be followed by meetings with Arsenal, Wolves and Manchester City in league and cup competition.