Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has denied that Manchester United struggled with the pressure of being in a title race, despite having seen his side slip to 15 points behind leaders Manchester City.
After a difficult start to the season, United went on an excellent run between November and early January, moving top of the table as the likes of Liverpool, Tottenham and Chelsea began to falter and raising hopes of a first Premier League title since 2013.
However, following an uninspiring goalless draw against a struggling Liverpool side, the Red Devils then fell to a shock defeat to Sheffield United at home on 27 January, a result that allowed City to take the advantage and they haven’t looked back since.
Pep Guardiola’s side are currently in the midst of a 21-game winning run in all competitions and looked to have all but sealed the title with 11 games still go, while Solskjaer’s men find themselves with a job to do to secure a top-four place.
Although their city neighbours have undoubtedly been superb, there is a feeling that United let the chance to be crowned champions slip between their fingers, with their struggles against fellow ‘Big Six’ sides arguably a key factor in curtailing their title challenge, as well as costly draws to the likes of Everton and West Bromwich Albion in recent weeks.
According to Solskjaer, however, there was never any pressure to lift a first league title since 2013, even though they were at one stage at the summit.
“Not at all. That’s the Premier League. The pressure has not been there at all,” Solskjaer told his pre-match press conference ahead of this evening’s trip to Crystal Palace.
”Of course, we enjoyed being as close to the top as possible. That’s the Premier League for you. That’s the quality in the opposition, the quality of the tactics, the standards, the demands of the season.
”We’ve played I don’t know how many games, we’re in the Europa League, we’re in the FA Cup, the Premier League and it’s the strangest year of all for everyone. So, pressure? No. That’s the Premier League.”
United travel to face Crystal Palace this evening looking to close the gap to the league leaders to 12 points, ahead of a huge Manchester derby meeting with Pep Guardiola’s side on Sunday.