Solskjaer: Reds should enjoy the home straight
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes his Manchester United squad should relish the run-in to the end of the season, insisting it's what players "sign up for" when they join the club,
The Reds are fighting on three fronts going into the final three months of the campaign. Solskjaer's side are now in a scrap for third place after the favourites for that spot, Tottenham Hotspur, dropped points during the week, while an Emirates FA Cup quarter-final tie against Wolves is a couple of weeks away. And of course, the second leg of our last-16 Champions League tie against Paris Saint-Germain takes place next week with United needing to overturn a two-goal deficit from the first meeting at Old Trafford.
When the Norwegian spoke to the media in his pre-match press conference, he reiterated that he did not want his charges to shy away from any of the challenges that lie ahead, and stated his belief that the players should recognise their careers with the club as the best times of their lives.
"I'm not a very nervous guy," Ole said. "I need to relax and I need to enjoy it and I think my players can see as well that I do enjoy this and they've got to understand that it's the best time of their lives playing here and these are the times that Man United players step up - when the going gets tough.
"You sign up for challenges, you sign up to rise to those challenges when you're at Man United and we've got Arsenal coming up, we've got PSG away coming up. These are the games that might make the players stay in the history of the club."
Going into this weekend's fixtures, United currently sit in fifth place in the Premier League table. However, with Arsenal and Tottenham set to do battle in the North London derby on Saturday, a win against Southampton at Old Trafford will give the Reds an opportunity to either leapfrog the Gunners into fourth or close the gap to Spurs who currently occupy third place.
With an exciting run-in to the end of the campaign lying in prospect, therefore, Solskjaer hopes that his players seize the opportunity to stamp their name into United fans' memories for years to come.
"You need to perform on a stage when it matters. Even if you don't maybe feel like it, you have to go there and perform. Those are the demands of a Man United player and you just don't perform when you feel like it.
“When you're 1-0 down you need to get on the ball, when you're 1-0 up, you need to control the game. Every game is a chance to further your career and to show what you're about.”
Solskjaer is all too aware of the reward of finishing in a top-four position. While United's esteemed history will continue to attract players, the caretaker manager believes that it is the chance to play in the Champions League that will play a bigger role in drawing future stars to the club.
"To play in the Champions League for Man United, there aren't many bigger things," he said.
"We know that we cannot just live off our name and tradition and history. We want to attract good players that want to improve the players that we've got here. All these top players that we have, they need players to challenge them, because no one should feel 100 per cent secure to be in the starting XI in the next game.
"Every game is a big chance for the players to say that we want to stay and it's the same for everyone in and around the coaching staff. We want to just improve everyone, because that's our job and the better we do, the bigger chance there is for us to be here."