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'You can't fake your way' - Solskjaer hails Man Utd squad mentality

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said he does not want “fake” players in his squad as he hailed the improved mentality of his Manchester United team.

United host Aston Villa on New Year’s Day and a win would take them level on points with Liverpool at the top of the Premier League after 16 games.

Solskjaer, who saw his team secure a 93rd-minute winner over Wolves on Tuesday, has been impressed with the improvement in mindset from his squad.

The United boss said they had focused on improving the team’s mentality, focus and drive during pre-season and that they’re now starting to see the development.

“One, they’re two years older than when I came. Two, some of them are really strong personalities that we’ve brought in and they have been a really good influence,” Solskjaer said.  

“We have competition for places, which means you cannot go around and think you can just fake your way into being part of this team. You only deserve to be in a team that you contribute to.

“I think everyone has realised they are privileged to be part of Man Utd, such a fantastic club with a fantastic history. When you’re here, enjoy it as much as you can and maybe you’ll experience some fantastic times.

“You’ve got winners like Juan Mata and Nemanja Matic. They don’t play every single game but they are so influential in the group and the build-up to games and during games when they’re not playing.”

Solskjaer made six changes for the Wolves game and with Villa arriving on Friday at Old Trafford before a semi-final Carabao Cup clash against Manchester City next Wednesday, he is likely to make more changes to his team.

But the United boss is confident the depth of the squad can see them through all competitions.

“We have a strong squad and have rotated a lot. We’ve not really called it a settled XI because I don’t think this season is going to be about that anyway,” Solskjaer explained. “It’s going to be about the squad. It’s going to be about the 25 players. I think towards the end of the season that will help us. It has to be done this way.

“When you leave Scott [McTominay] and Fred out, it’s not easy. They deserve to play every game, but Nemanja [Matic] and Paul [Pogba] played so well against Everton. Injuries and suspensions will happen, so I think our squad is well capable of being ready for every game.”