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'I'll work on the mentality' - Solskjaer looking for Man Utd to improve performances against lesser teams

7:09 AM SGT 9/12/19
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Man Utd vs Aston Villa 2019-20
The Red Devils have turned up for games against the Premier League's elite, but have struggled against other sides

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says that he believes Manchester United are more than capable of turning up against teams other than the Premier League's best as the Red Devils turn their focus towards improving results against the league's lesser clubs.

Man Utd are riding high following a pair of emotional victories, as Solskjaer's side topped former manager Jose Mourinho and Tottenham midweek before taking down Manchester City over the weekend.

The two victories alleviated plenty of pressure on Solskjaer, whose Man Utd side has experienced up-and-down results all season long.

While the club has turned up for clashes against the league's elite, even earning a draw with Liverpool in the leaders' only misstep of the season, Man Utd has struggled against teams that aren't competing near the top of the table.

The Red Devils have lost to Crystal Palace, West Ham, Newcastle and Bournemouth this season and, with vital matches against  Everton, Watford, Newcastle and Burnley approaching throughout the festive period, Solskjaer says it's up to his side to carry a top-level mentality into matches against lesser opposition.

“If it’s a mental thing, then we can sort it out,” he said. “We’ll work with the mentality of the boys. 

“For me, it’s been very much about margins in those games. Some freak results that we can’t control. But if you look behind the results I’m not as negative as you are. I’m not so worried, so concerned. 

“If the boys are then telling me they can’t get up for these games – then we’ve got a problem. Then I’ve really got to work with them because, when I played, that’s how we won the league.

"We never gave points away against the lesser teams, the not-so-good teams. The Premier League is difficult – if you don’t have that mentality you won’t get results. I’ll work on the mentality.

“We've had chances in every single game. There are so many games I could go through that we should have won. We know that we have to get better results against teams that drop deeper. We'll improve on that.”

Over the weekend, Solskjaer's Man Utd played counter-attacking football, relying on the pace of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Daniel James to frustrate the Manchester City defence.

Man Utd haven't been able to play that way against lesser teams, as Solskjaer's side has struggled to break down opponents content to concede possession.

Solskjaer isn't too concerned, though, as he believes that his attackers will be able to figure things out going forward.

“We know we can play quick, attacking football when we get the shape right,” added Solskjaer. “The attitude was spot on and every time we had the ball it seemed like could carve them open. 

“It doesn't matter if it was two passes or four passes or 10. The first half was attacking football as it should be played.

"The quality of our attacking - how quick we go from one end to the other and the intent of going forward. It's not like we win the ball and the boys want to slow it down to have a rest. No. The goal is that way and we go that way.”

He added:  “You've got to earn the right to win. Sometimes you've got to earn it by passing quicker, winning the ball back - there are different ways of winning games of football.”