Solskjaer admits City have 'raised the bar' as United look to clear cup derby hurdle

By Sports Desk January 07, 2020

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants his Manchester United players to strike another blow in Tuesday's derby against a Manchester City team who have "raised the bar so much" in English football.

A month on from stunning City at the Etihad Stadium with a 2-1 victory in the Premier League, United will have home advantage in the first leg of the EFL Cup semi-final.

There remains little doubt where the power lies in Manchester, with City emerging as the dominant side in the north-west hotbed over the past decade by winning four of the last eight league titles.

United continue to rebuild after the end of the Alex Ferguson era, with Solskjaer currently the manager trusted with producing a successful Red Devils side.

The Norwegian said: "It's a different era and a different time.

“We are still, in our own heads, one of the biggest clubs in the world but it’s going to take time.

"We have been up and we’ve been down but we’ve always come back."

The leadership of Pep Guardiola over the last three and a half years has taken City to a new level, and they are defending the EFL Cup after last season's domestic treble.

"They've raised the bar so much," Solskjaer told reporters. "It's something to aim for."

While Solskjaer may have learnt plenty from his own time as a player under Ferguson, former Barcelona boss Guardiola has taken his tactical lead from another former Nou Camp chief in the late Johan Cruyff.

The United manager added: "Pep has had a big influence and, since he took over Barca, I've admired his teams.

"You do see one of the best managers ever and you can see where he has taken his wisdom from.

"I had the pleasure of speaking and meeting Johan [Cruyff] back in the day when Jordi [Cruyff, the former Manchester United midfielder] was here and you can see certain similarities."

Related items

  • Guardiola hopes Messi stays at Barcelona Guardiola hopes Messi stays at Barcelona

    Pep Guardiola has reiterated he wants to see Lionel Messi stay at Barcelona.

    Barca talisman Messi is out of contract in 2021 and there is fresh speculation the six-time Ballon d’Or winner may wish to leave the club, who have not won the Champions League since 2015.

    The forward has often been linked with a move to Manchester City to play under his former Camp Nou coach Guardiola.

    But the City boss was reluctant to discuss transfers ahead of Wednesday's Premier League home match against Newcastle United.

    He also stressed his stance on Messi has not changed, having previously expressed his hope the Argentine remains with Barca when questioned on the topic.

    "I'm not going to speak about transfers until the end of the season," he said. "My wish is that Messi is going to stay in Barcelona."

    Asked if a new centre-back was in his plans, he added: "At the end of the season. We still have incredible targets to fight for."

    Meanwhile, Guardiola insisted he had no influence on where City's Champions League last-16 second leg against Real Madrid will be played, with a decision due this week.

    City lead the tie 2-1 after a win at Santiago Bernabeu before the coronavirus lockdown and reports suggested Guardiola had lobbied UEFA over playing the return leg in Manchester rather than at a neutral venue.

    "I am not strong enough to have this impact," he said.

    "I am not a president. They have protocols. I have never spoken with UEFA. I have said many times that we want to play in Manchester but we are going to accept wherever UEFA decide to play.

    "What I want is to play against Madrid. This is what I want but I didn't make phone calls, I don't have this power."

    The club are also getting closer to finding out the verdict from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) as they appeal against their two-year Champions League ban.

    "On July 10 it is the [Champions League quarter-final] draw and [July] 13 will be the sentence," Guardiola added.

    "After that, I will give my opinion. We wait for the resolution from UEFA. This season is not going to change. It is so beautiful what we have in front of us."

  • Guardiola: Man City cannot afford same mistakes against Arsenal and Madrid Guardiola: Man City cannot afford same mistakes against Arsenal and Madrid

    Pep Guardiola has warned his Manchester City players that failure to turn dominance into goals and making mistakes will cost them if repeated against Arsenal and Real Madrid.

    City fell to a shock 1-0 defeat at Southampton on Sunday, their ninth loss of the Premier League campaign leaving them 23 points adrift of champions Liverpool.

    Che Adams lobbed goalkeeper Ederson after City lost possession and despite 26 shots from the visitors – just six of which were on target – it proved to be the only goal of the game.

    Guardiola feels one-off mistakes and his side being unable to take their chances has proven damaging this season.

    He insists there is no room for a repeat ahead of key upcoming matches against Arsenal and Madrid in the FA Cup semi-final and Champions League last 16.

    "We played really good in terms of what we wanted to do, the commitment with the players after two or three successful seasons is still unbelievable," Guardiola said ahead of Wednesday's home league game against Newcastle United.

    "But we are in the point that sometimes we make a mistake that we have to avoid in some games and are punished as a team. And in some games the lack of goals punish us as a team.

    "In the semi-final against Arsenal and Madrid this is the reality. We can play the way we played, I don't have doubts this is going to happen and if we are consistent in both boxes, we have a big chance or opportunity to go through.

    "But if what happened against Southampton and other games this season like Tottenham home and away or Norwich away, where we dropped points, we will be out and Arsenal and Madrid will go through.

    "That is the reality we have to accept. We can be lucky to convert what we produce and defend the less we concede.

    "But I don't have any doubts that the team will be there to compete like we have done all season. That is my feeling. We still have incredible targets to fight for."

    Guardiola acknowledged a lack of consistency compared to title rivals Liverpool was what really set City back.

    He added: "Our consistency has been missing. We've not converted our game plan and in this business you have to win. 

    "When you lose nine games you cannot win the Premier League right now – maybe years ago. The champions have to score above 90 points so when you lose nine games you cannot win the league. 

    "I was not able to solve the problem that we have had since the beginning. I remember the game against Tottenham at home, they had two shots on target and we shot more than 20 and we drew. 

    "It happened in the second game in the league and the last game against Southampton was similar. I was not able to change this dynamic."

  • FIFA agrees to mediation in dispute with TTFA FIFA agrees to mediation in dispute with TTFA

    FIFA has agreed to settle their dispute with the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) through mediation.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.