Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has bemoaned Manchester United’s fixture schedule admitting the club have got ‘no help’ ahead of Sunday’s Manchester derby.
Man United welcome Manchester City to Old Trafford in a hugely anticipated derby fixture this weekend, looking to continue their nine-game unbeaten run following last night’s FA Cup victory against Wayne Rooney’s Derby County™ at Pride Park.
The club’s 3-0 win over the Championship side booked their place in the quarter-finals, though Solskjaer has criticised the scheduling of the fixture, which means United have 24 hours less recovery time than City in midweek ahead of this weekend’s crunch clash.
“It’s that help we get from the FA again, the extra 24 hours they have had. I cannot believe, when there’s a derby on Sunday, why we’ve got to play on Thursday night,” he said.
“What’s the point in that? That doesn’t level the playing field. It was the same when we beat them last time to be fair, we played Wednesday and they played Tuesday. Those 24 hours are important so we’ve got to be good at recovering now.”
When asked whether he had officially complained, Solskjaer added: “There’s no point. I don’t think we can. It’s one of them, you get told when you’re going to play but we’ve not got any help before this one.”
Sunday’s meeting will be the fourth derby fixture of the season, the two teams having also met in a two-legged Carabao Cup semi-final earlier in the campaign.
City emerged triumphant following a ruthless attacking display on their previous visit to Old Trafford, and Solskjaer has discussed his side’s vulnerability when attacking their opponents in recent meetings.
“Well when you’re at home, you have to open up against a team like Man City and they will exploit that if you’re not 100 per cent,” he said. “And sometimes, being at home with your fans, you want to show them what you can do and you want to beat your opponent.
“Sometimes you open up too many spaces and that’s what we did for 10, 15 or 20 minutes [in the Carabao Cup defeat] after they scored a worldie [Bernardo Silva’s goal]. Before then, it wasn’t a problem before Bernardo scored in the top corner.
“That wasn’t an issue until our heads went for a little while so we’ve got to control our emotions more. And we have, we have learned so that’s an experience that we’ll bring into this game, definitely.”
Solskjaer is hopeful of having both Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James available, the former missing the Derby encounter with a back injury, whilst James has missed the club’s past two fixtures after picking up a knock against Club Brugge in the Europa League.
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Speaking on the duo’s fitness, Solskjaer added: “I hope so, yes, but none of them have been training yet since the last game, so we’ve got to look at them on Saturday probably because tomorrow is a recovery day.”
Captain Harry Maguire is also a doubt, the defender having rolled an ankle in training and missing the trip to Derby. The centre-back celebrated his 27th birthday yesterday, though Solskjaer says resting Maguire was not part of his plans at Pride Park.
“Well, he’s touch and go because he rolled his ankle but hopefully he’ll recover quickly. I wasn’t going to rest him today (Thursday), I didn’t give him a day off birthday-wise but I hope he’ll be fit.”