Ole Gunnar Solskajer has insisted that he is pleased with his side’s overall defensive improvement, despite the lapses they showed in the 2-2 draw against Southampton on Monday.
United went behind early on after Paul Pogba was caught on the ball by the tenacious Danny Ings, and having got themselves back in front through Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial before the half-hour mark, the Red Devils conceded a 96th-minute equaliser from a corner.
Highlights showed a number of errors in the conceding of the Saints goal, United failing to deal with the ball at the near post, Victor Lindelof being wrong sided by goalscorer Michael Obafemi, while Harry Maguire was bizarrely seen to be marking Aaron Wan-Bissaka in the middle.
Harry Maguire appeared to be marking his own teammate when Southampton’s late equaliser went in. pic.twitter.com/f1LOR3pxsK
— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) July 14, 2020
Maguire, along with David de Gea, also came in for criticism for their part in the goal that put Spurs 1-0 up in the first game after the restart, with Rio Ferdinand urging his old side to sign a pacey centre-back to partner the England international.
However, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes his side have shown plenty of improvements, with his side expected to defend from the front.
“I think we’ve had a couple of things against teams that show we’re improving all the time,” the Norwegian said at his pre-match press conference when asked about the defensive lapses.
“I think we can defend well at times, when you say defence I look at the whole XI that is playing, because we start pressing from the front. There are not many teams that create chances against us since the restart.
“We’ve pressed high with Marcus [Rashford], Anthony [Martial], Mason [Greenwood] and Bruno [Fernandes], and at the back end we have David [de Gea], who made a fantastic save the other day. It’s a different type of game for him now, he doesn’t have as much to do as the last few seasons.
“Of course we’re disappointed to concede a goal in the last seconds but that happens.
“Brandon was off, playing with 10 men, Southampton have players who are 7ft tall, great delivery by Ward-Prowse but very, very pleased with development in the whole team.”
Solskjaer unsurprisingly refused to be drawn on a question if his team was the best Manchester United side since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, but did say his side were ‘getting closer’ to playing the type of football that is expected of the Old Trafford outfit.
“That’s not my job to say,” he responded, “But we’ve played some good football, enjoyable football.
“We’re privileged to play for this great club and there’s a certain expectation of how we play football and we’re getting closer to that type of team.”
United look to get their pursuit of a top four finish back on track when they come up against Crystal Palace on Thursday evening, before an FA Cup semi-final clash against Chelsea on Sunday.