Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has called on his Manchester United side to repeat their big match form against the top flight’s lesser lights as part of a continued charge into the top four. They beat their neighbours Manchester City 2-1 at the weekend.
Victory over local rivals City on Saturday was the latest quality performance against the cream following up the win over Spurs at Old Trafford just days earlier.
But the United boss now wants to see the same levels hit in a run against Everton, Watford, Newcastle and Burnley with his side using the derby win as a springboard.
“If the boys are then telling me they can’t get up for these games – then we’ve got a problem,” said Solskjaer.
“But if it’s a mental thing, then we can sort it out.
“When I played, that’s how we won the league – we never gave points away against the lesser teams, the not-so-good teams.
“The Premier League is difficult – if you don’t have that mentality you won’t get results.
“I’ll work on the mentality.”
United added the Premier League champions scalps to Chelsea, Leicester City and Spurs this season. They have also drawn with Arsenal and Liverpool.
Yet they have failed to back up against some lower ranked teams.
“It’s consistency (that is the key) and just being better at taking care of our chances,” Solskjaer added.
“We’ve had chances in every single game. There are so many games I could go through that we should have won.
“We know that we have to get better results against teams that drop deeper. We’ll improve on that.”
United produced a counter-attacking masterclass against Pep Guardiola’s side at the Etihad Stadium with Marcus Rashford continuing with his blistering recent form.
The striker was awarded a penalty after VAR adjudged he was fouled by Bernardo Silva on 23 minutes which he despatched calmly for a 13th goal in his last 21 matches.
Anthony Martial followed up six minutes later with a shot from the edge of the box which crept inside Ederson’s near post.
After going two down City simply could not break down United’s defence until Nicolas Otamendi’s late header set up a tense finale.
“We know we can play quick, attacking football when we get the shape right and the attitude was spot on and every time we had the ball it seemed like could carve them open,” said the delighted United boss.
“It doesn’t matter if it was two passes or four passes or 10. The first half was attacking football as it should be played.
“We got tired and dug in towards the end but none of them give up. They don’t give up and they hang in there. I’ve said so many times, I’ve got boys here who want to improve.”
United’s win punched a huge hole in City’s title hopes, leaving them trailing leaders Liverpool by a huge 14 points.
No side has turned around such a deficit to win a title.
It was a win that lifted United into fifth, five points off the tails of Chelsea in the final Champions League spot.