Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is using the development of bitter rivals Liverpool as motivation as he bids to turn around Manchester United’s fortunes this season, admitting his side are ‘further behind’ than expected.
Manchester United have endured an indifferent first half of the campaign and currently sit eighth in the Premier League, their performances having been mixed with an inability to secure results against the so-called lesser lights in the division.
Last weekend’s defeat at bottom club Watford means the club have earned just 12 points from 12 meetings with the sides currently below them in the table, despite securing impressive victories over the likes of Chelsea, Leicester, Tottenham and Manchester City this season.
The United boss admits he was prepared for a season of ‘ups and downs’ as he continues his rebuild at Old Trafford, but ahead of their Boxing Day meeting with Newcastle admits the club’s progress is behind what was expected.
“We knew this season was going to be a season of some ups and downs,” Solskjaer said at his pre-match press conference.
“This season will be used to find a team and a squad for next season, but hopefully we can speed this process up by getting more results.
“I expect us to be more consistent, definitely more experienced and learning from these setbacks.
“At the moment we’re a little bit further behind than what I was hoping for.”
Solskjaer admits his side are capable of hurting teams on the counter-attack but must work on breaking down stubborn defences, highlighting Liverpool‘s evolution over the past few seasons under Jurgen Klopp as motivation for his side to strive towards.
“We want to be a team that can go and dominate teams and break teams down,” he added. “It’s taken Liverpool a few years to get to that stage and we need to just keep on building because that’s what we want to get to.
“Yes, we’re good at counter-attacking. Yes, we’ve got pace and fast players. We should always keep that because it’s in our tradition.
“We create loads of chances, but every time we lose it there’s a counter-attack. We need to lock it down more, better at stopping the counter-attack.
“That’s where this team is going to learn and grow and I’m sure we’ll see an improvement over this season and the next year.”