Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Manchester United have to prove they can be consistent if they are to compete with Liverpool and Manchester City for the Premier League title next season.

Ahead of a derby clash with rivals City at Old Trafford on Wednesday, United are 24 points behind leaders Liverpool, although they have played one match fewer.

Solskjaer's side face a battle for Champions League qualification with United, who have lost six of their past eight games in all competitions, three points behind Chelsea in the race for a top-four finish.

United have not won the Premier League since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 and Solskjaer is uncertain over how competitive the Red Devils can be in 2019-20.

"I don't think we've got the consistency to do that," Solskjaer told reporters when asked if United can fight City and Liverpool for the title next season.

"Over the last 18 games, we're not far away from them but it's doing it over the course of a season. We've done it for half a season now. Let's see. You can never say never.

"You cannot expect things to happen overnight and we know that. It will happen gradually and we have to be realistic enough as a club that we have to take it step by step. 

"That's not changing 10 players now and bringing 10 players in. It's slowly, slowly but surely. It has to be the right quality, right personality, the right standards to get us back to where we want to be."

United fans have been left to weigh up whether they would rather see neighbours City or equally fierce rivals Liverpool be crowned champions.

"It's not about taking something away from others," Solskjaer added. "We have to want to overtake them, and not just because it's City and Liverpool.

"For a supporter, as I am, and as a manager now as well, we know [them well] because they are so close in the vicinity. 

"We want to be the best, we have been the best and it's not nice seeing those two at the top."

Pep Guardiola insisted Manchester City have not been offered Manchester United star Paul Pogba again despite the Frenchman being linked with the Old Trafford exit.

Pogba has endured another erratic season at United, finding himself in and out of the team under Jose Mourinho, before suffering another dip in form recently.

Although consistency continues to elude Pogba, he has managed to score 13 Premier League goals this term and set up another nine.

Pogba was linked with City last season when Guardiola claimed - just before the derby - his agent had offered him to United's rivals, while Real Madrid are said to be circling following the return of Zinedine Zidane as coach.

But, ahead of Wednesday's Manchester derby, Guardiola refused to stoke any pre-match controversy again, insisting City have not been offered the World Cup-winning midfielder once more by agent Mino Raiola.

"No. No, no, definitely not," Guardiola told reporters when asked if Pogba had been made available to him. "He's a player for Man United."

Guardiola is already spoilt for choice in midfield, even with Kevin De Bruyne expected to miss the derby through another knee injury.

Phil Foden impressed against Tottenham last time out, scoring the only goal of the game in just his second Premier League start and he could start against United for the first time in De Bruyne's stead.

"Yes, he [Foden] is ready," Guardiola said of the Stockport-born 18-year-old.

"I don't know the importance to be a Man City fan or if being involved in that is going to help or not, but he is ready, of course.

"He would not be here [if he wasn't ready]. We'll see [if he starts] - I have to dream tonight."

Pep Guardiola has strongly denied a claim from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer that his Manchester City side deliberately set out to commit fouls.

Former Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho previously complained about what he described as "tactical fouls" from Guardiola's City.

And Mourinho's successor Ole Gunnar Solskjaer followed suit in his pre-match news conference, claiming "there will be fouls" in Wednesday's Premier League clash at Old Trafford.

Victory in the derby would put City in pole position in the title race, moving them back above Liverpool by a point with both sides having three games to play.

And Guardiola bristled at Solskjaer's suggestion City cynically bringing counter-attacks to an end is one of his tactical instructions.

"Receive a lot of fouls? So we are going to make fouls to them? Did he say that?" Guardiola said to reporters. "With 75 per cent the average, or 65 or 70 per cent of the ball, how you do that? I don't have any comments about that.

"I never prepare a game in my 10 seasons as a manager thinking about this kind of thing. Never. And my players can talk better than me about that.

"I'm concerned many, many other things about the game to have to play to beat them than this kind of thing.

"So I don't know. Tomorrow in the press conference after the game you can ask him again about that. So I don't know."

Guardiola indicated he feels Solskjaer's words were an attempt to influence the match referee Andre Marriner.

"I don't like it. I don't like it," the City manager said when asked again about the Norwegian's comments. "My team, our team is not built to think and create for that, not at all. I know exactly what I say to my players from the day one, from the last day.

"So we want to play, want to try to attack, we have to be honest and of course there is contact, of course there are fouls, but when it happens and you arrive late and yellow [card] - that's why there are referees to make a yellow card or a red card, or whatever they decide.

"We want to do our game, I want to do our game. Sometimes it's not possible because the others play too, the people sometimes [find it] difficult to understand that, but the other teams play too. But never, never... I prepare the game to do my, our own game, that is what I want."

Guardiola does not expect Solskjaer's comments to have an impact on the referee, though.

"No I don't think so," he added. "We shouldn't do that.

"Really I don't know. I will be suspended [if we talk about referees]. I will be in trouble."

Trent Alexander-Arnold says he will be among the Liverpool fans cheering on Manchester United in this week's derby against the Reds' title rivals Manchester City.

Pep Guardiola's side play their game in hand at Old Trafford on Wednesday knowing a victory would move them back above Liverpool in the Premier League table.

City have won 10 league games in a row in a relentless run, but Jurgen Klopp's men have kept up the pressure on the defending champions by going unbeaten since losing at the Etihad Stadium on January 3.

Former City midfielder James Milner said he would not be tuning into the Manchester derby as he feels it is "a waste of energy" to wish for his old club to slip up.

Alexander-Arnold's England team-mates Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard could also boost Liverpool's chances of winning their first title of the Premier League era.

But although Reds supporters would not ordinarily find themselves hoping United win, Liverpool-born Alexander-Arnold feels it is a small price to pay.

"It's a funny one," he told reporters. "At this stage of the season you sometimes need to support someone you wouldn't normally like.

"There's no secret, for our ambitions and goals we need a team to do us a favour somewhere along the line.

"On Saturday we all supported Tottenham [against City] and on Wednesday the majority of Liverpool fans I think will want United to get a win.

"Without even saying it they [Rashford and Lingard] know they'll be doing us a massive favour if they get anything.

"With what they're going for and going for the top four, they probably need to get a result. I'm sure it will be a good one.

"I probably will watch it. I don't know if there are any other games on, but I'll watch. It's exciting, but you try not to get too caught up in hoping that City lose."

Manchester City must learn to manage Kevin De Bruyne's fitness ahead of next season, according to Pep Guardiola, who has ruled the midfielder out of Wednesday's derby against Manchester United.

De Bruyne went off with a knee injury against Tottenham on Saturday, and will miss the game at Old Trafford, though Guardiola is hopeful the playmaker will still be able to feature before the season is out.

The injury is the latest in a string of set-backs for the 27-year-old, who has been restricted to 30 appearances in all competitions for City this term, making just 11 Premier League starts.

And manager Guardiola confirmed that City will reassess how they treat De Bruyne moving forward, in order to ensure he avoids a repeat of his injury hit campaign next season.

"It is a muscular problem, and we will see in the next days how it is," Guardiola told a news conference. "It's getting better but he is not available [for Wednesday].

"Unfortunately it was one injury and then another one and another one. Before in the past he was safe, especially from muscular problems, but now he has had two or three as a consequence of his knee.

"But with all the competitions we have in England, we don't have time to make preparation when they come back from injury. That is not the best way.

"Now we have to pay more attention in the little details, see if he can play one, two more games before the end of the season, then next season have a good pre-season and take care of himself.

"He has a lovely family, his life is organised in training, rest, prepare for the next game. We are going to speak with the doctors, everybody, to make the problem go and for him to be safe and fit. That's what we are trying to do from now on."

De Bruyne's absence has been felt by City over the course of the season, as the Premier League title race with Liverpool promises to run to the wire.

Victory at Old Trafford would see City move back above their rivals with three games to play, and Guardiola did not downplay the magnitude of Wednesday's fixture.

"Four games left, we have to win all four games to keep the title," he said.

"It is not an easy place to go, but at the same time a nice place to go. We know exactly what we need to do, they are fighting for top four and we are fighting for the title. We will go there to play a good game."

Pep Guardiola sympathises with Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for the difficult period he is going through and insists he supports the Norwegian ahead of their first derby meeting.

Solskjaer was brought in initially as an interim replacement for Jose Mourinho in December and enjoyed a stunning impact as they lost just one of his first 17 matches at the helm and reached the Champions League quarter-finals against the odds.

Back-to-back defeats to Arsenal and Wolves did not put United off from hiring him full-time at the end of March, but a subsequent run of two wins and four defeats has prompted many to question the club's decision to hand Solskjaer a contract through to 2022.

Their most recent defeat was undoubtedly the nadir, as United were humiliated 4-0 away to Everton on Sunday, severely denting their top-four hopes.

Up next on Wednesday is the derby against champions Manchester City in a game which could have major consequences in the title race, and Guardiola showed empathy towards his opposite number.

When asked in his pre-match news conference if he felt it was right for Solskjaer to be questioned, Guardiola said: "I don't know. We [managers] don't have time.

"I understand his position perfectly. We are alone, I am alone and that's why I understand completely his position.

"It happened to me, it happened to all the managers around the world. We can sustain it if we win, if we don't we are in danger.

"That is the reality, we have to accept it. It is what it is. I understand perfectly and I am with him, I support him, honestly."

At the time of Solskjaer's interim appointment and subsequent full-time hiring, much was made of his close connection to the club, having spent the majority of his playing career at Old Trafford as well as his early coaching days.

Guardiola – who managed Barcelona after playing for them – agrees that such a background can be beneficial.

"To know the club is better," he said. "I know this club now more in my third season than I did in my first season.

"He came back here after being a formidable player. He knows everything [about the club], so it's an advantage, of course."

Despite United's recent woes, Guardiola is expecting them to be at their very best in the derby, and while he believes pride to be at stake for Solskjaer's men, he downplayed the influence of their Everton loss on the game.

Asked if United will be eager for a response, Guardiola said: "A little bit more, maybe, but if they won [against Everton] the confidence would be a little bit more, and it is a derby.

"All the derbies here or in Germany or Spain are always special games and the players do their best for the fans and the team.

"I expect the best United, for sure. They have pride, their pride to do their best. We are going to do what we do and try to win the game."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is confident he is the right man to get the best out of Manchester United's players, despite a poor run since his appointment as permanent manager.

United slumped to their heaviest defeat of the season on Sunday, losing 4-0 at Everton, and must now try to bounce back when they face Manchester City in a derby clash on Wednesday that could have huge ramifications for the Premier League title race.

Having enjoyed a stellar three months at Old Trafford following his appointment as interim manager in December, Solskjaer was given the job in a permanent capacity on March 28, but United have lost four of the six games since then in all competitions.

The capitulation at Goodison Park followed a Champions League exit at the hands of Barcelona, with Solskjaer apologising to United's travelling support on behalf of his players.

But the former Molde boss believes that he is the right choice to lead United forward, even if the squad will need altering in the close season.

"I would like to think so," Solskjaer told a news conference when asked if he could improve United's players. 

"I like all these boys, I love them, but I've got to manage for the club and I'm managing the club and the players and I've got to put all my effort into making sure we do what is right for the club.

"Of course, you learn about players and now is not the time to talk about making wholesale changes in the squad that's been doing so great, City and Liverpool have taken more points than us in the last 18 games and that's it.

"We really gave it a go, and you can see loads of United standards, the DNA in these players. 

"You have to get players in and some players will go out. There's always a crisis at United whenever you lose a game or two, but the boys have done fantastic, we don't enjoy losing games, we've lost three out of the last five league games, that's a bit too many but that's football.

"You see Chelsea-Burnley, Arsenal-Palace but the way we lost at Everton that was the lowest we have been and was the worst performance."

Solskjaer was scathing of his side on Sunday, but has not lost belief in his squad, accepting that he is just as responsible for United's form as his players are.

"We focus on Wednesday and I'm sure we'll get a response," Solskjaer added.

"You don't punish them as in run up to the mountains and back. We believe in them, these players know they let themselves down as individual, as a team, me as well.

"I'm in charge and I'm the one giving instructions how we're going to play and it's my duty to get them performing better than that and I'm sure we'll get a response."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has lit the blue touch paper ahead of Wednesday's derby by saying Manchester City "snap at your ankles and kick you".

Pep Guardiola's title-chasing City side visit Manchester United knowing three points would take them back above Liverpool to the top of the Premier League table and put them in pole position to retain the title with three games to go.

Yet United are also desperate for the win having slipped to sixth in the table following a rotten run of results since their improbable Champions League victory over Paris Saint-Germain at the start of March.

And Solskjaer, whose team have lost six of their past eight games in all competitions, has followed the lead of his predecessor Jose Mourinho by indulging in some mind games prior to the City clash.

"We've got to be ready for the press, for their pressing because they've got quality on the ball," Solskjaer told reporters at a news conference.

"We've got to defend well. When we win it, we've got to be ready for their aggression, they will snap at your ankles and heels and kick you.

"They are not going to allow us easy counter attacking. There will be fouls, absolutely no doubt about it, because when you watch them games they commit so many players forward.

"They will be stopping us as high as they can, I think."

The desire of United's players was questioned after Sunday's 4-0 thrashing at Everton.

Solskjaer revealed that his squad held talks following that drubbing and insists the visit of City is the ideal chance for them to show a response at Old Trafford.

"That's the best game we could ask for now, with players hurt, as they were definitely were," he added.

"We had a meeting after the [Everton] game and you can see all the players are definitely, definitely disappointed, but really, really hurt by that performance.

"The City game is the perfect one, there's no hiding place on the pitch.

"Our fans will back you whatever result there will be as long as you give that effort. Against a City side that's been very, very good, we have got to turn up."

Robbie Fowler cannot see Manchester United denying City in their derby clash in their current form, but the Liverpool great is hopeful.

Liverpool are hoping for a favour from their rivals, with Jurgen Klopp's men two points clear atop the Premier League but with Manchester City holding a game in hand.

United go into Wednesday's derby at Old Trafford on the back of six losses in their past eight games, including a 4-0 thrashing at Everton.

Fowler, appointed coach of A-League club Brisbane Roar on Tuesday, said it was hard to see United turning their form around.

"I think obviously everyone knows my allegiances are massively with Liverpool and I think if we're being totally honest it's going to be tough for them because you feel as though Manchester City can beat anyone on their day," he told a news conference.

"They've got four games to play and obviously they're four winnable games.

"So, to use a little bit of mind management if you like, I think Manchester United need to pull off a big favour for Liverpool.

"I think the way they're playing at the minute, you can't see it happening, but stranger things have happened."

United are chasing a Champions League qualification place, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men three points adrift of fourth-placed Chelsea ahead of the derby.

Liverpool midfielder James Milner will be supporting Manchester United for the first time, but he will avoid watching their clash against City.

Wednesday's Manchester derby shapes as being vital in the Premier League title race, with Jurgen Klopp's men two points clear at the top but City holding a game in hand.

Milner, a former City and Leeds United midfielder, said he would be supporting Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men.

"First time in my life," he said.

"But I won't be watching. It's a bit of a waste of energy, willing the ball in the other goal.

"I can't do anything about it. I'll maybe put my phone away for a few hours and check it after. I've no idea what I'll do, maybe go out for some food."

With three games left, Liverpool are up to 88 points and could finish the campaign with 97 but still not win a first league title since 1990.

While Liverpool have matches against Huddersfield Town, Newcastle United and Wolves left, Manchester City will meet Burnley, Leicester City and Brighton and Hove Albion after the derby.

"There's three games left after that [derby]. People think United is a challenge, but it's not the only one," Milner said.

"It's an old cliche, but the Premier League is tough – whoever you play, teams battling at the bottom."

Paul Pogba branded Manchester United's performance in the embarrassing 4-0 defeat to Everton on Sunday "disrespectful".

United were crushed by Everton at Goodison Park, suffering a fifth consecutive away defeat in all competitions, their worst such run since March 1981.

On top of that, it was Everton's best Premier League win over United, who looked hapless and well below their best throughout.

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gave an honest assessment after the game, accepting he did not know if the players cared enough about playing for the club and suggesting some do not have a future at Old Trafford.

Pogba was one of the players to attract criticism after a lacklustre midfield display, though he has since acknowledged the overall performance from United was intolerable.

When asked by Sky Sports what went wrong, Pogba said: "I wish I knew. It was the details, the desire, we spoke about courage and everything we had when the manager came.

"What we had there, it was just like another team and this is not good. It is not good for Man United, for the story of the club or for the fans.

"It is not good at all what we did. Losing a game is something really bad that we don't want to do when we are in the race for the top four - and losing 4-0 as well.

"Not to be disrespectful, and I am not disrespectful to Everton, but the way we played and the performance of myself, of the team, of everyone is disrespectful. We didn't respect ourselves, the club or the fans.

"Everything went wrong, but the most important thing is the mentality that we put on the pitch - that has to change. Now it is in the past and we cannot stay on the past because it is a headache. You have to think about the next game and do better.

"We let the manager speak [after the game], the staff spoke and they spoke the truth. They said what happened in the game and it is not respectful for ourselves.

"What we did on the pitch is not respectful for the team-mates, for the staff, for the fans, for the kitman, for everyone. For their work, they put their life on us, the team and this club.

"What we showed on the pitch, we did not give them the joy back and that's why we are angry with ourselves. We want to do better for sure and we have to. The reaction has to be there.

"I want to say [to supporters], and I know it may not be enough, but the fans want a reaction from the players and the only way to apologise to them is to give everything on the pitch, do our best, create chances, score goals, defend, work for the team and we can even lose games, but with a good performance and pride on the pitch.

"That's how we should apologise to the fans, just to give everything for us, for the club, for the shirt, for the team-mates and for ourselves as well because it is us on the pitch and we cannot perform like we did.

"When you wear this shirt at this club it is, first of all, because you deserve it, but when you deserve it, you have to work and respect the culture, the history of this club and give everything on the pitch.

"I don't want to be harsh with my words, but we don't want to look like we did [on Sunday] because the body language was not good enough for this shirt."

United return to action on Wednesday in the Manchester derby against bitter rivals Manchester City, who will expect to wrap up the Premier League title if they leave Old Trafford with a victory.

Ashley Young has promised Manchester United will deliver a response when they try to put a dent in Manchester City's Premier League title hopes this week.

United produced their worst performance of the season in a crushing 4-0 defeat at Everton on Sunday, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side having now lost six of their past eight games in all competitions.

They are two points outside the top four with four league games to go, but Wednesday's game at Old Trafford offers United the chance to hurt City's chances of defending their title while boosting their Champions League hopes.

Solskjaer and goalkeeper David de Gea apologised to United's supporters for the substandard display at Goodison Park – their fifth straight away defeat in all competitions – and Young followed suit as he vowed to make amends against City.

"We've just got to apologise to the fans and we've got a tough one coming up on Wednesday with the Manchester derby," Young told MUTV.

"We know how important that's going to be. If you can't get yourselves up for the Manchester derby, there's something wrong.

"I've got confidence that we're going to be ready for Wednesday. It's a disappointing day today [Sunday] but we've got to dust ourselves down fairly quickly and go again this week."

United host Chelsea next Sunday before their last two matches of the season against teams in the bottom three of the Premier League, away to already relegated Huddersfield Town and at home to Solskjaer's old side Cardiff City on the last day.

"It's four games, it's four winnable games," Young added. "If you'd said in October we would be in this position, we'd have taken it, but a club like Manchester United, we should be looking much further up the table.

"We've got four games left, we've got four wins to get. It's going to be tough but I'm sure we can do it. We were 4-0 down and [the fans] were still singing. They've been fantastic, and we've got to go and put a performance in on Wednesday."

Nemanja Matic lamented a lack of leaders at Manchester United as the experienced midfielder took responsibility for Sunday's humiliating 4-0 Premier League defeat at Everton.

United were put to the sword by Everton, who condemned the Red Devils to their fifth consecutive away defeat in all competitions – the club's worst run of defeats since March 1981.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's United have lost six of their past eight matches and Matic was candid in his assessment of the Goodison Park rout post-match.

"The biggest problem was that we didn't have leaders on the pitch," Matic, 30, told Stadium Astro.

"In this case me, because I'm one of the most experienced guys in the team so if we don't win that battle in the middle, for our team it is difficult to play.

"If someone is to be blamed for this game it is me.

"I think that I'm most responsible because I'm one of the most experienced guys in the changing room."

United – sixth in the Premier League and two points adrift of fourth-placed Arsenal – welcome Manchester City to Old Trafford for Wednesday's derby.

Nemanja Matic lamented a lack of leaders at Manchester United as the experienced midfielder took responsibility for Sunday's humiliating 4-0 Premier League defeat at Everton.

United were put to the sword by Everton, who condemned the Red Devils to their fifth consecutive away defeat in all competitions – the club's worst run of defeats since March 1981.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's United have lost six of their past eight matches and Matic was candid in his assessment of the Goodison Park rout post-match.

"The biggest problem was that we didn't have leaders on the pitch," Matic, 30, told Stadium Astro.

"In this case me, because I'm one of the most experienced guys in the team so if we don't win that battle in the middle, for our team it is difficult to play.

"If someone is to be blamed for this game it is me.

"I think that I'm most responsible because I'm one of the most experienced guys in the changing room."

United – sixth in the Premier League and two points adrift of fourth-placed Arsenal – welcome Manchester City to Old Trafford for Wednesday's derby.

Jurgen Klopp trolled Manchester United by suggesting they will not be able to influence Wednesday's derby clash with Manchester City on the evidence of Sunday's 4-0 hammering by Everton.

Klopp's Liverpool are top of the Premier League table, two points ahead of City who have a game in hand – the midweek Manchester derby.

Many have suggested the trip to Old Trafford is City's final major obstacle in their title defence after they overcame Tottenham 1-0 at home on Saturday.

United go into that encounter in wretched form, with Sunday's embarrassing loss to Everton being a sixth defeat in eight matches across all competitions.

Klopp was asked about the importance of the Manchester derby and he took the opportunity to take a pop at United.

"It [the derby] is not something we can influence, and it does not look like United are in a place to, either," Klopp quipped to Sky Sports after beating Cardiff City 2-0. "What was the [United] score today? 3-0, 4-0, to Everton?"

The German also addressed the situation in his post-match news conference, and reminded his players they need to just continue concentrating on one match at a time, otherwise they could become complacent.

"It [the derby] is a normal game, a game they [City] have to play," he added.

"We had to play that game as well and Man United was in that moment obviously in a much better moment when we played them, so it was a 0-0. So, on a good day maybe, it [the derby] is a draw.

"We'll see what comes out on Wednesday, we have no influence on that, but we still have to play games after that.

"So, if United get a point or whatever and we win [against] Huddersfield Town, go to Newcastle United after Barcelona and think we have it halfway or whatever, then we will get a knock there.

"It's all difficult, we just have to stay focused on our things – that's what worked really well so far and I don't see any reason why we should change."

One sour note from the Reds' win at struggling Cardiff was a late head injury suffered by Fabinho in an aerial duel, but Klopp is not hugely worried about the Brazilian.

"It was very unlucky," he told the club's official website. "Fabinho is OK, but he had a bit of shaky legs and that's of course not a good sign in the moment.

"It's a 100 per cent 'yes' or go off; if it's 95 per cent in that game in that position, we cannot make that decision [to stay on]. It's all good."

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