Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Man Utd will not settle for second in Premier League title race

Man Utd were held to a 1-1 draw at West Brom on Sunday and are now seven points behind leaders Man City; Harry Maguire feels poor refereeing decisions are costing the side; Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Sam Allardyce agree defender was offside in the build-up to his overturned penalty

Posted Tuesday, February 16, 2021 by Skysports.com

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Man Utd will not settle for second in Premier League title race

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Manchester United will not settle for second in the Premier League title race, despite having taken only 10 points from their last seven league games.

United were held to a 1-1 draw at West Brom on Super Sunday and despite returning to second place on goal difference, they have ultimately slipped further behind local rivals Manchester City.

Pep Guardiola's side are now seven points ahead at the top of the table and have a game in hand, but Solskjaer insists Man Utd will not be letting them get away too easily.

He said: "No one will give it away this early. This season is so unpredictable, life is so unpredictable, anything can happen and of course we're not going to settle for second.

"It's a compliment to the boys that we've gotten ourselves into the position we're in. We're the team closest [to Man City] and we should be challenging the team in front of us.

"We're not going to let them get away with it, but we need to win games to be in that position."

It was ultimately a lacklustre showing at The Hawthorns, although Man Utd were improved after half-time and saw the majority of the possession (73.1 per cent).

They did come away with their unbeaten Premier League run intact, extending it to 19 games, but Solskjaer dismissed the statistic after a disappointing draw.

He added: "At the moment, that record doesn't mean anything. We are in desperate need of three points because we want to move up the table and you don't do that by getting one point away from home. It's a disappointing outcome today.

"Then again some of the play was really good, some of the performances were really good so there are some positives. But overall, we're disappointed with one point only.

"We built loads of pressure, created pressure, pegged them back but I didn't feel we created enough big moments to score the goals. We didn't have the aura.

"Saying that, we did get down the sides and flashed a few crosses down the line but maybe the cross, or the position or the movement wasn't there. We didn't have big moments that you felt should have been a goal disappointingly, even though the ball was in the last third all the time apart from a few counter-attacks, which is always dangerous when you have Premier League players against you."

Graeme Souness believes the draw against West Brom - who have only won twice in the Premier League this season - is a poor result and takes more pressure off Man City at the top.

The Sky Sports pundit said: "This is such a bad result for Manchester United. He's just said it's a difficult place to come - West Brom have won one game at home, against the bottom team. That's a difficult place to go if you're second or third in the league?

"West Brom had the better chances. That is an exceptionally poor performance and result for Manchester United, when you think they've got a chance of putting the pressure on Manchester City. Nah."

Maguire also saw a penalty he won overturned upon VAR review by referee Craig Pawson after the defender went down with Semi Ajayi at his back.

It was overturned as there was deemed to be not enough contact for the foul to be given, despite Maguire appearing to be offside in the build-up.

Here's how the key players saw the incident:

Solskjaer told his post-match press conference: "I think we all want consistency and a fair game, but then again, there's human error that we all expect from our game. With the penalty we could have had today, it is a clear foul. If you only look at the clash between their centre-back and Harry, it's a foul but from what I see, Harry is in an offside position.

"So someone must have been asleep in that VAR office in Stockley Park. Someone needs to brew some coffee because it could have been easily avoided by saying 'he's offside, let's move on'."

West Brom manager Sam Allardyce told Sky Sports: "The confusing thing is Maguire is offside before it, and he's not just offside, he's well offside. So I don't know why it has to be a decision on whether it was or wasn't a penalty, what should have been the decision was 'this was an offside, let's play on'.

"I'm massively confused about that situation and I'd like some clarification from somebody by saying Maguire is stood in an offside position when the ball comes in, then there's this kerfuffle about the penalty when it could have been easily cleared up straight away by saying Maguire was offside, rather than the referee having to come over to the monitor.

"What that meant was if he thought it was a penalty and he gave it and it was the winner, that would have been an absolute injustice to what had happened here today."

Souness told Sky Sports: "He [Maguire] goes to ground as though he's been hit with a baseball bat. If he said he thinks it's a penalty, it's not enough to bring him down the way he goes down."

Maguire told Sky Sports: "I was so certain it was a penalty. I don't understand why he's been sent to check it.

"I'm goalside of the defender, I feel a touch on my shoulder, he's pulling me back, and then I feel a clip on my heels as well. It was minimal, but it's a penalty, especially after the referee points to the spot you think there's no chance it's getting overturned.

"I was so confident it was going to be given, but it seems like the decisions at the moment are going against us. We can't be relying on VAR though, we huffed and puffed and have to improve."

Maguire also questioned the officiating for West Brom's opener, feeling Mbaye Diagne had been fouling Victor Lindelof.

"It's a big frustration," Maguire told MUTV. "We know the first goal is crucial when you come to this place. But again it's a foul.

"I'm fed up of hearing 'Vic can do better'. Of course he can do better and I know he can.

"But I'm fed up of hearing 'people can do better'. 'David (De Gea) can do better on the cross (against Sheffield United)'. But it's a foul, it's a foul from Billy Sharp on David.

"If you get someone in the back and if a big striker's wrestling Vic and then puts his arms all over him and heads it in the back of the net, of course he can do better but it's a foul.

"So, when are we going to get these decisions? Because as defenders and goalkeepers, you expect a fair decision.

"For me, I know Vic will be disappointed in there and I'm sure he's probably getting criticism, he knows he can do better, but it's a foul so we shouldn't even be speaking about this.

"He's a big striker who's bigger than Vic and he's wrestling him, he's got his arms all about it, he heads the ball in the back of the net.

"I had one disallowed at Burnley two, three weeks ago and the difference is massive. You can't tell me that I did more than the striker's done there!

"So the inconsistency is something that we need to look at."

West Brom manager Allardyce was pleased with the performance from his side as they continue to battle relegation, and feels they could have won the game.

He told Sky Sports: "It was a fantastic point and a game we could easily have won on the chances we created. I'm really pleased with how we set our tactics out, we were brilliant in the way we controlled the element of Manchester United's threat. They were limited to little or no chances, but it was an absolutely brilliant goal [from Fernandes], so you have to hold your hands up for that.

"In the second half, we contained the opposition again, limited them, and then started breaking away to create opportunities. Our big man, Mbaye, scored a great goal today but he could have had three. He could have been the winner for us today.

"I'm really pleased for the players with their application, the way they nullified the opposition and the way they used possession as best as they possibly could... Overall, the whole team has performed to their best level consistently over 90 minutes and I can't ask any more than that.

"It's another point to try and get us on the move, going forward without losing football matches. Can we put an undefeated run of games together? The effort we put in today needs to be matched when we go to Burnley next week. It'll be a different type of game and tactics, but if we get to the top of our game and create opportunities, hopefully we'll be there to finish them off."

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