Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insists Manchester United have moved on from their Liverpool mauling ahead of their Old Trafford return against Manchester City.
United lost 5-0 at home to Liverpool nearly two weeks ago before steadying the ship somewhat with a 3-0 win at Tottenham and a 2-2 draw away to Atalanta in the Champions League.
Solskjaer has been under intense scrutiny since the Liverpool defeat, and some United fans might fear another Old Trafford horror show with champions City set to make the short trip across town.
“We’ve moved on from that one,” Solskjaer said of the Liverpool result he described as his darkest day at United.
“Of course it’s going to be in the history books but we’ve had a good week. We’ve had good results away from home, difficult games, and the mindset is positive.
“We’ve got to go into this game believing we can do good things. It’s a local derby and everyone knows what’s at stake.”
Of the focus on his own position, Solskjaer said: “When I stepped in the doors here in December 2018 there’s been speculation ever since.
“So that’s no problem. You don’t expect an easy ride when you become manager of Man United.
“That’s how it is and we’re ready for this game.”
Solskjaer can head into the Manchester derby comforted by his positive record against Pep Guardiola.
The Norwegian has won four of his eight meetings with City boss Guardiola in all competitions, which is the best win rate of any manager to face the Spaniard at least five times.
Solskjaer is also the only manager to have beaten Guardiola more times than he has lost to him.
Again, that is the best record of anyone who has faced the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss in at least five matches.
Solskjaer said: “I’m not one to talk about what I’ve done. I’ve got great respect and admiration for what Pep has done.
“It’s a special one and we’ve had a few good results against them. Let’s hope that continues, but we don’t take it for granted. We have to earn it.
“We’ve had some good games, tight games, and we need another performance.
“Sometimes you need luck, sometimes you need the players to stick at it. We know it’s going to be a game where we have to work hard and suffer a lot.
“The last time we had a Manchester derby with fans (United won 2-0 at Old Trafford in March 2020) the atmosphere was electric.
“We’ll remember that one more than with any dark moments that we’ve had. When Scott (McTominay) scored that goal in extra time that was a special moment.
“We know it’s a one-off game. You have to start on the front foot and start ready. A lot of it depends who gets on the front foot.”
Solskjaer’s defensive resources have been depleted this week with the loss of Raphael Varane.
The former Real Madrid centre-back was forced off against Atalanta with a hamstring injury that Solskjaer expects to sideline him for “four to five weeks”.
Victor Lindelof missed out on Tuesday with a knock sustained in training and Eric Bailly deputised for the Sweden international in Italy.
“With all the technology now you expect him to be out for four or five weeks with the scans that we’ve seen of him,” Solskjaer said of Varane.
“It’s a blow for us because Raphael has come in and been really influential.
“But we have big squads to cope with some absentees at times.
“Victor is still a doubt but hopefully he can come back in. I would expect him to be ready but I can’t promise.”
United are definitely without midfielder Paul Pogba, who serves the second game of a three-match ban after being sent off against Liverpool.
Enjoy the convenience of having The Sunday Post delivered as a digital ePaper straight to your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Subscribe for only £5.49 a month and enjoy all the benefits of the printed paper as a digital replica.Subscribe