United Briefing: Keep the pressure on
Scott McTominay says he and his Manchester United team-mates must keep trying to pile pressure on league leaders Manchester City, after the Reds reduced the Blues’ advantage at the top of the Premier League table.
And the Scotland international says stranger things have happened in football than a potential late twist in the title race – indeed, in 2011/12, City overturned our eight-point advantage from exactly the same situation.
“Funnier things have happened in football,” insists McTominay. “You’ve got to keep putting the pressure on – that’s our sole focus. It’s not about saying ‘We're waiting for a wobble’ or something like that. We just have to keep winning our games; we have to keep pushing ourselves; keep doing what we can do.“If we’re there or thereabouts towards the end of the season – we certainly want to be second – and if we can push them and make them wobble a bit then who knows?”
While City face Aston Villa on Wednesday, United do not have to fulfil a midweek fixture for the first time in the entirety of 2020/21, and McTominay says the chance to rest and put in some quality training time could be vital in the run-in.
“It’s a really good chance to have one-two days’ rest and recovery,” he says, “and then training for the rest of the week can be intense and we can really nail a few details which we’ve not had the chance to do all year.
“People don’t realise that it’s not easy going game-to-game, and then having two nights’ sleep before the next game. It’s literally back-to-back-to-back. To have a week’s rest will be good. We can really dial in and focus on some things that we need to work on in training for the last part.”
Perhaps that work will entail one or two drills on defending set pieces, following James Tarkowski’s header against us at the weekend, which came from one of Burnley’s infamously awkward corners.
“Set pieces are difficult. It’s not easy. They’ve [Burnley] got big lads coming into the box that flood the right areas and they’re not easy. You have to be so focused and it’s something that we have spoken about a lot: set pieces, corners, wide free-kicks, lateral free-kicks.
“So for us it’s something that we’ll look at but I’m sure we’ve got to tidy up before the end of the season with big games in the Europa League and stuff like that.”
But despite Burnley’s aerial threat throughout Sunday’s game, McTominay was satisfied with the performance, especially in the second half, where forwards Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford and Edinson Cavani all thrived.
“We need to be dishing the goals around and the four boys have done that throughout the season which has been really pleasing.”
The Reds will have a rare day off following yesterday’s exertions, ahead of what will hopefully be a full week of rest, recovery and useful training.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said last week that he and his backroom staff had not had an extended period of time to work with the full squad on detailed tactical work since our very brief pre-season last summer. So hopefully this will be a fruitful and productive week at the Aon Training Complex – we’ll need it ahead of taking on Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United next Sunday.
It’s also the anniversary of Gary Pallister’s two-goal heroics at Anfield in 1997. Check out ManUtd.com and our Official App to relive the day we took a giant stride towards our 11th top-flight title.
We overcame a belligerent Burnley at Old Trafford, thanks to two goals from Mason Greenwood and an injury-time nerve-settler from Edinson Cavani.
Post-match, we heard from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Mason Greenwood and also revealed our Man of the Match winner.
Finally, 45 minutes before midnight, we published an official statement from the 12 founding clubs of a new European Super League.