Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has asked Manchester United fans for patience as he bids to end the club’s long wait for a Premier League title.
Having gone top of the league on January 12 United threatened to challenge this season, but a run of just three wins in 10 Premier League games since then has torpedoed those hopes and they travel to the Etihad today 14 points behind leaders Manchester City.
It looks like being eight years without a title for United and the challenge to usurp City is a steep one, with Pep Guardiola’s side currently on a winning run stretching to 21 games in all competitions.
Guardiola can call on a deep squad at City, something that has been beneficial in an unusually congested season, while Solskjaer stresses his United squad is still in the process of construction.
The Norwegian believes players such as Alex Telles and Donny van de Beek will improve for a first season in English football and he’s happy with the way his squad is starting to take shape, but he accepts there will be no quick-fix when it comes to taking United back to the top of English football.
“I think we are set out to build a strong squad and our squad is getting deeper and deeper and better and better. Of course, I’ve said so many times, we needed to make changes and rebuild,” he said.
“We had loads of youngsters coming through last season. This season we have signed players of a different calibre. Of course we have Alex, Donny, Edinson [Cavani] come in. Two youngsters that we have signed. We are getting a better and a stronger squad.
“Some of these need experience of playing in the Premier League. Alex, Donny, Edindson, Amad and Facundo [Pellistri] that we’ve signed, they have not played in the Premier League. So they probably needed that little bit of extra time.
“The Premier League experience we have from the ones that we’ve had throughout last season. And Bruno [Fernandes] even, you know he is getting used to the Premier League. He has only been here for 13 months. So the more time we get, the better we will become. I know so much that to make things grow you need to bless them with some patience.”
City have certainly benefited from substantial investment in the transfer market, but United’s chances of following suit may be damaged by the ongoing hit their revenues are taking during the Covid-19 pandemic.
That might change the nature of the challenge for Solskjaer, but he insists everyone at the club is pulling in the same direction.
“I know Pep – and all the managers say it boils down to players. As managers we rely on our players to play well,” he said.
“How do you get good players? You might produce them yourself, you might sign them, you might sign them early, or when they are top players. It’s all about having the quality out there on the pitch.
“We’re working as hard as we can every single day – and that is everyone at Man United from the scouts to the cleaning ladies and the people in the kitchens. Everyone is working really hard to get us to where we feel belong – and that’s the top.
“I know our fans want us to win and that they’re impatient for success. We’re working as hard and as quickly as we can.”