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Solskjaer calls for more protection for Man Utd stars from 'tactical fouls' ahead of Carabao Cup clash with City

09:27 GMT 07/01/2020
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Manchester United 2019-20
The Norwegian thinks his players have been targeted by a number of teams this season due to their electrifying pace on the counter

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Manchester United players have been frequent victims of tactical fouling this season, and he has called for more protection from referees ahead of a Carabao Cup semi-final tie against Manchester City.

In the days leading up to a derby meeting at the end of the 2018-19 campaign, Solskjaer hinted that City's penchant for late tackles was a deliberate tactic to slow down their opposition, which Pep Guardiola vehemently denied.

United are due to come up against their noisy neighbours once again on Tuesday night, in a semi-final first-leg clash at Old Trafford.

Solskjaer feels City's blueprint for stopping United's attackers has been copied by teams throughout the Premier League this season, with the likes of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Daniel James causing plenty of problems with their speed in the transition.

“That’s a big thing and sometimes I look at the referees and I look at our games and even if they are just little fouls there have been teams who have stopped us with those little fouls, which has stopped us showing how good we are when we attack,” the Norwegian head coach told a press conference.

“But I didn’t raise it [the subject of tactical fouling] this time, you did!”

Solskjaer thinks £15 million ($20m) summer signing James has been targeted the most due to his raw pace, but all too often referees have failed to punish those responsible for halting his momentum unfairly.

The Welshman was fouled on a number of occasions during United's 2-1 win over City at the Etihad Stadium last month, and Burnley also subjected him to rough treatment in a Premier League meeting on December 28.

Solskjaer added: “There have been a few fouls on Dan James and I am better off not talking about it but the referees have got to look at when players with his pace, even if they just knock the ball past them, they [opponents] stop them in their tracks. Of course, it is yellow cards [that should be issued]."

After their latest clash with City, the Red Devils will turn their attention back to the Premier League, with a home fixture against Norwich on the cards on Saturday.

United are currently fifth in the standings, and cannot afford to lose any more ground on Chelsea in the race for the final Champions League spot.

City, meanwhile, are due to take in a trip to Aston Villa a day later, as they look to close the 14-point gap between themselves and runaway leaders Liverpool.