London – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is confident that Manchester United will not
repeat last season’s embarrassing “capitulation” against Everton as they
seek to strengthen their push for a Champions League place.
United make the short trip to Goodison Park on Sunday in an upbeat
mood after seven games unbeaten – and six clean sheets – in all
On Thursday they progressed to the last-16 of the Europa League after
a 5-0 win at home against Club Brugge gave them a 6-1 win on aggregate.
Solskjaer endured what remains his most chastening day in the hotseat
last April at Everton, apologising to fans after a 4-0 rout as their
“That was the lowest I’ve been,” Solskjaer said, referring to the
Everton defeat. “I think you all know that and remember that. That was a
“We had absolutely nothing about us, even though their goals were
more or less counter-attacks from set plays and long throw-ins.”
The Norwegian said he was certain his side would produce a better performance on Sunday.
“I can with hand on heart 100% say these boys will never give
in and never give up like that team did,” he said. “These are the boys
we want to build the next team around.”
Of that starting line-up, Chris Smalling has left on loan, Phil Jones
has barely featured and Paul Pogba has seen his playing time heavily
restricted by injuries. Romelu Lukaku is the only starter that day to
have left permanently.
United at last appear to have found some consistency and confidence
after a bumpy season but Solskjaer said he knew it would take time.
The January arrival of Portugal midfielder Bruno Fernandes has lifted
the team, who are fifth in the Premier League table, three points
behind fourth-placed Chelsea.
“We knew when we made the decisions we made in the summer it was
going to take time,” said Solskjaer. “As I’ve said a few times, Rome
wasn’t built in a day.
“The culture, the attitude, the fitness, the camaraderie, the team
spirit and maybe even the understanding between players have improved.
“We have missed that box opener that Bruno (Fernandes) is proving to be now.”
Solskjaer again praised Fernandes over the impact he has made since
his arrival at Old Trafford, saying he had been a “big boost” for the
“He just loves football,” he said. “He’s got so much enthusiasm and smile about him.”