Nemanja Matic is enthused by the young talent that has fired Manchester United's revival but believes more improvement is needed to challenge for the Premier League title.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side are enjoying an unbeaten run in all competitions that stretches back to January 22.

Since the Premier League's return from lockdown, United have been in electrifying form, with breakout displays from teenage forward Mason Greenwood and Bruno Fernandes' galvanising effect to the fore.

Matic claimed Premier League glory in 2014-15 and 2016-17 at Chelsea and feels United and their exciting attack must continue to realise their potential more fully if they are to dethrone Liverpool.

"I have to be honest: it was not always easy to be in our team because we had a lot of young players, with no experience of playing at the highest level," he told Stats Perform News.

"But that was a period of transition of our team and I think in the last few years many players matured a lot.

"I have to mention [Marcus] Rashford, [Anthony] Martial, Greenwood, so many players matured a lot. They know they have a lot of responsibility; they play every game.

"I am happy to see them improving, taking responsibility and I am sure this team can only improve.

"It was difficult for us in the past because we were inconsistent, but I think the team is ready, more experienced. If we can improve 10 or 20 per cent more then we can challenge for the title next season."

Chelsea's 3-0 defeat at Sheffield United on Saturday has left the door ajar to the top four and United will go above Frank Lampard's men if they beat Southampton on Monday.

"We are fighting, we are playing, we want to finish in the top four. There are only four games left but we are there," Matic said.

"We are fighting with Chelsea and Leicester [City] for that position, we know it's going to be hard, but we will try and win every game until the end. We want to win the Europa League and the FA Cup."

Chelsea are also in United's way in next weekend's FA Cup semi-finals, while a 5-0 first-leg lead over LASK means they can expect to contest a Europa League quarter-final against Istanbul Basaksehir or Copenhagen next month.

Lifting the Europa League, as they did in 2016-17, of course represents another route into the Champions League if required.

"I don't think it adds more pressure, but it does give you more chances to play in the Champions League," Matic said.

"I think it's great what they did that clubs have an opportunity to fight for the Champions League.

"Also, a trophy is a trophy and we want to win, we can show our kids one day, every trophy is important to us."

The likelihood is that VAR decisions will come under the microscope once again as United contest the closing weeks of the season with all to play for.

Nevertheless, Matic is broadly a fan of the much-maligned system, although he feels breaks in play could be speeded up.

"I think it is better with VAR," he added. "Before, when referees made mistakes, it was finished.

"Now with the VAR they reduce the mistakes. There will always be mistakes because we are human, but I believe it will reduce the mistakes, so I support it.

"It needs to be faster. In the game against Bournemouth [United's recent 5-2 Premier League win] we had to wait too long.

"It's not easy to decide quickly but if they could improve more then it would be perfect."

Marcus Rashford deserves more credit for his "amazing" teamwork for Manchester United despite his goal return drying up, Bruno Fernandes says.

Rashford reached 20 for the season in all competitions with a penalty in the 5-2 Premier League win over Bournemouth at Old Trafford.

This has been the England forward's most productive campaign of his career in terms of goal involvements, but he has not yet scored from open play since the Premier League returned last month.

Fernandes has had no such trouble finding the net, his four goals in his past three league games helping him to win the Premier League Player of the Month award for the second time in a row.

But the Portugal star insists Rashford is hugely important for a United side unbeaten in 17 matches and with a top-four finish now in their own hands.

"I think everyone is talking about Marcus not scoring a lot of goals but he is doing an amazing job," Fernandes told United's website ahead of Monday's game against Southampton.

"The game he is playing now, maybe he is not achieving his goals and everything but, with everything we are doing now, he will achieve more goals and more assists. In the games, in the complete football, because football is not just about goals and assists, it is about the team and Marcus is playing very well for the team.

"I hope Marcus can find more goals because he deserves it for the work he is doing for the team, and nobody sees it because everyone sees the goals and who scores and assists. The work he is doing for the team is amazing.

"Marcus was injured for a long time so it's difficult to find that confidence again, to do things like shoot from far out. But he is doing an amazing job for the group and I think he deserves credit for this."

Fernandes drew attention to Rashford's off-the-ball run in the 3-0 win at Brighton and Hove Albion that helped to create the space for the swift counter-attack that ended with Fernandes volleying in United's third goal.

"The play we did, the way we came to score, means it's one of the best goals from a team [perspective] that I've scored,” he said.

"That's because of all the teamwork. We won the ball with the header from H [Harry Maguire], Nemanja [Matic] takes the ball and Mason [Greenwood] did an amazing run but, at that moment, Rashy did a perfect run. He was one of the far [off] guys but comes so fast to the goal that defenders know if they give him space, he will score. 

"So maybe he [the defender] closes him down being closer to the ball and, when the cross comes over, and it was a great ball by Mason, after that I just need to score the goal."

Jack Grealish has not seen sufficient ambition from Aston Villa to tempt him to stay with the club, according to former captain Stiliyan Petrov.

Relegation from the Premier League looks a near certainty for Villa now, after Watford and West Ham claimed potentially decisive wins on Saturday to pull clear of the bottom three.

It will mean Villa's return to the top flight has lasted just one campaign, after Grealish spent three seasons in the Championship helping his boyhood club battle their way back to the elite level.

Grealish is widely expected to leave, having been linked with a host of leading clubs including Manchester United, and the 24-year-old may risk his potential going unfulfilled should he drop into the second tier again.

Although Villa were among the big spenders leading into the 2019-20 season, Petrov suggests the 1982 European Cup winners have still not matched Grealish's needs.

And in turn that leads to the inevitable suspicion he will call time on his Villa career.

Speaking to Stats Perform News, Petrov said: "As a Villa fan I'd love him to stay. Jack likes to compete, he wants to do that at the highest level. He loves the club. He showed that in the Championship, he helped us get promotion, he battled hard in the Premier League.

"If that moment comes [when Grealish leaves], it would be sad to see because he is an exceptional person, not just player. But as a club, have we done enough to keep him?

"I don't think so and it's a big problem going forward as a club, because we may get good players through the youth system, but can we do enough to keep them?

"If he goes, I don't think he can be blamed."

Former Bulgaria star Petrov, who made over 200 appearances for Villa from 2006 until 2012, says it would be a natural progression for Grealish to step up to an established Premier League club.

"Jack has a growth mindset," Petrov said. "He likes to improve, he wants to achieve.

"He likes to be in the spotlight, wants to be counted. He wants to compete at the highest level.

"Of course, he will generate interest from the top clubs because he does perform. If you remember, Pep Guardiola said he's one of the best midfielders in the Premier League.

"That compliment comes from one of the best managers in the world. Those managers don't waste their words saying this about someone who doesn't deserve it.

"That's why Pep came out and said he's one of the best and his performances this season have attracted attention. It's completely normal."

Manchester United's plans for next season remain "up in the air", according to manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The delayed end to the 2019-20 season caused by coronavirus has meant a lot of the customary off-season planning has had to be shelved while United's pursuit of a top-four finish and Champions League qualification has exacerbated the problem at Old Trafford.

United's blistering form post-lockdown means wins in their four remaining games will see them secure a place among Europe's elite next term, although fifth may yet be enough depending on how the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) views Manchester City's appeal against a two-season European ban.

With so many variables, Solskjaer concedes there is only so much forward-thinking possible at present.

Speaking ahead of Monday's game against Southampton, he said: "You can't really decide on the training programme, there are so many small decisions and, of course, transfers sometimes are out of our hands as well.

"If the team is going well, what do we need? What don't we need? Do we get injuries? That's just the way we're working in this job and you've always got to plan for different scenarios.

"The uncertainty of dates, how much holiday can you give them, what will next season look like, it's still a little bit up in the air.

"I don't think it's like dramatic decisions, I don't think the club would either panic or suddenly go crazy with plans that we've already talked about for years to come.

"You do have to have a long-term plan but some short-term, maybe some decisions will be easier to make if you get [into] the Champions League."

United have received plenty of plaudits for their attack-minded approach since the Premier League resumed but Solskjaer was also keen to talk up the importance of a defence that has conceded just three goals in the past five games in all competitions.

He said: "It's about winning, of course it is, but it's also about our fans and the way we approach the game, how we approach football.

"You play with pace, power, you play with no fear, you take risks and you've got players who have got quality. That's just the DNA of the football club.

"Of course, I'm happy when you don't concede but it's always been built on a strong foundation.

"When we had [Jaap] Stam and [Ronny] Johnsen, [Gary] Pallister and [Steve] Bruce, fantastic keepers behind them, the engine room with Roy Keane and Bryan Robson laid down foundations for forwards to show their skills. We just need to take it one game at a time.

"Now it's time to keep our feet on the ground, keep working, and don't believe all the hype and praise. Same as not believing in all the criticism when you don't do well: the end is not too far away, so the goal is getting closer."

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer does not believe teenage star Mason Greenwood will suffer burnout after emerging as a key man at Old Trafford.

The 18-year-old striker has netted four times in United's past three Premier League games, including a wonderful effort in the 3-0 victory at Aston Villa on Thursday.

Greenwood has formed a formidable attacking trident with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial with the threesome set to start again as United continue their challenge to finish in the top four when they host Southampton on Monday.

Such is Greenwood's form, it seems unlikely he will be afforded any rest with United also challenging for silverware in the Europa League and FA Cup.

Solskjaer has no concerns that burnout will become a factor, though.

He told reporters at his news conference: "At that age, you've got so much energy, no fear, you just want to go and play football.

"If we had a day off, he'd go and play football with his mates. I'm not worried about Mason this season; we just need to look after him in his whole career.

"He's a fantastic boy, he loves football and gets the result and rewards for his hard work."

Greenwood has long been tipped for stardom and Solskjaer was not surprised by his emergence, adding: "Not really, we know what he's capable of and always trusted him to be a part of this squad and chip in with performances and goals.

"We've seen it every day, I've seen it since I came to the club, he's just a natural footballer and when you put natural good footballers with better footballers that gives him more opportunities to show his qualities.

"The club know what they're doing when they’re educating players."

With Greenwood taking centre stage, Rashford has been able to focus fully on his game after a lockdown period in which his charity work rightly earned him many plaudits.

Solskjaer has been encouraged with the recent progress made by the England international.

"I am very happy with him," he said. "Physically he's coping well with the games, mixing up his game and making defenders think.

"Marcus has got all the attributes to be a top forward, you can see with our players he suddenly pops up on the right, left, and you want that rotation between them but also the discipline to stick out wide and create the space for others.

"Sometimes you get an assist in my head when you're creating space and making runs for others."

Manchester City are reportedly ready to give up two players in a deal for Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly.

Koulibaly, 29, has regularly been linked with a move from Naples, with several of Europe's biggest clubs apparently keen to land the centre-back.

And City may know who they are ready to offer up as part of a deal.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY PREPARED TO GIVE UP TWO PLAYERS FOR KOULIBALY

Manchester City could use Nicolas Otamendi and Oleksandr Zinchenko in a deal for Napoli star Koulibaly, according to The Sun.

The report says the Serie A club have already contacted City about Otamendi and Zinchenko.

Napoli are said to want €100million for Koulibaly, who has also been linked to Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal.

ROUND-UP

- Liverpool have been repeatedly linked with a move for Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara over recent weeks. However, ESPN reports the Premier League champions will not pursue a deal for the former Barcelona star.

- Speculation around Eric Garcia's future continues. According to Mundo Deportivo, the Manchester City defender is motivated to return to Barcelona, but the Premier League club have offered the 19-year-old a bumper contract, with his current deal expiring in 2022.

- Jonathan Ikone is seemingly attracting some interest. Le 10 Sport reports Chelsea and Inter are interested in the Lille forward. Ikone scored three goals and provided six assists in 28 Ligue 1 games in 2019-20.

- Will Roma get a deal done for Chris Smalling? Gianluca Di Marzio says Roma are in negotiations with Manchester United to make the defender's move permanent. The report says Roma's offer of €3m (£2.7m) to extend the loan for a season before a €15m (£13.4m) offer to make the move permanent has been deemed too low.

- Mesut Ozil wants to see out his contract at Arsenal, with his deal expiring in 2021. The Sun reports the attacker has told friends he will only consider playing in MLS or the Turkish Super Lig after he leaves Arsenal.

- Paris Saint-Germain could be looking to strengthen while weakening one of their Ligue 1 rivals. Foot Mercato reports PSG are interested in Lyon and France defender Leo Dubois.

Bruno Fernandes has become only the seventh player to win two successive Premier League Player of the Month awards.

Mohamed Salah, Jamie Vardy, Harry Kane, Cristiano Ronaldo, Dennis Bergkamp and Robbie Fowler are the only other players to have achieved the feat.

The Manchester United midfielder, who joined from Sporting CP in January, has made a remarkable start to life in the Premier League, winning both of the Player of the Month awards that he was eligible for.

Fernandes claimed the gong for February after an impressive first month at Old Trafford, before continuing that sparkling form into March.

He picked up where he left off when the Premier League resumed last month following the coronavirus-enforced suspension, with his performances across March and June taken into account for the latest award.

In United's five matches across those two months, Fernandes scored four goals and set up one more.

The Portugal international has helped transform United's fortunes since arriving from Sporting, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men unbeaten in 15 matches since his debut.

Fernandes beat Conor Coady, Danny Ings, Raul Jimenez, Allan Saint-Maximin and his United team-mate Anthony Martial to the June prize, while he also took home the Goal of the Month award.

The goal in question was his second in the 3-0 win at Brighton and Hove Albion on June 30, as he volleyed home from Mason Greenwood's pinpoint cross at the end of a rapid counter-attack.

While it was not a double success for United with the Manager of the Month award, it is the first time the two prizes have gone to Portuguese candidates in the same month.

Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo won the manager's accolade for a second time, as he presided over a five-match unbeaten streak either side of the coronavirus hiatus.

He left Steve Bruce, Frank Lampard and Solskjaer in his wake, though Wolves have lost both of their matches in July, denting their hopes of a top-four finish as they trail fourth-placed Leicester City by seven points with four games to go.

Manchester United are set to face either Istanbul Basaksehir or Copenhagen in the quarter-finals of the Europa League. 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side, who hold a 5-0 lead from the first leg of their last-16 tie with LASK, could then meet Wolves, Olympiacos, Roma or Sevilla in the last four. 

Antonio Conte's Inter will take on either Bayer Leverkusen or Rangers in the last eight, if they defeat Getafe in the last 16. 

Shakhtar Donetsk or Wolfsburg will face Eintracht Frankfurt or Basel in the other quarter-final. 

The matches between Getafe and Inter, and Roma and Sevilla, will be held as one-off games at neutral venues in Germany as the first legs could not take place due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

All other remaining last-16 ties were able to complete their first legs, meaning the reverse fixtures will be held at the home team's stadiums. 

Those games will take place over August 5-6 before the quarter-finals begin from August 10, with those matches being staged in Cologne, Duisburg, Dusseldorf and Gelsenkirchen. 

The semi-final venues are yet to be confirmed, but the final on August 21 will be held in Cologne. 

Quater-final draw:

Shakhtar Donetsk or Wolfsburg v Eintracht Frankfurt or Basel
Manchester United or LASK v Istanbul Basaksehir or Copenhagen
Inter or Getafe v Bayer Leverkusen or Rangers
Wolves or Olympiacos v Roma or Sevilla

Semi-final draw:

Winner of QF4 v Winner of QF2
Winner of QF3 v Winner of QF1

Gary Neville believes VAR officials are "frightened to death" to overturn on-field decisions following further controversial incidents in the Premier League on Thursday. 

Aston Villa boss Dean Smith was left fuming after Manchester United were awarded a penalty when Ezri Konsa was adjudged to have fouled Bruno Fernandes, who scored the opening goal from the spot in a 3-0 win following a VAR check. 

Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho was also stunned when Harry Kane appeared to be pushed over by Joshua King, but both referee Paul Tierney and VAR official Michael Oliver did not feel a foul should be awarded in a goalless draw. 

Former Manchester United and England defender Neville wants to see referees check pitch-side monitors rather than rely on verdicts from Stockley Park. 

"On VAR. Send the Ref to the screens for goodness sake! The "we know better" than Europe way is failing badly," Neville tweeted. 

"The officials off-site are frightened to death to overrule on-site colleagues." 

Villa boss Smith was left frustrated at the VAR call made in the defeat to United as they battle to avoid relegation from the top flight.

"It all changed round on the penalty. I can understand Jon [on-field referee Moss] getting it wrong on the pitch but VAR? I don't know what they're looking at. It's a disgraceful decision," he said.

"They've got a screen there they can go and look at, but they don't seem to be bothered now." 

Carl Robinson hopes Wolves keep star duo Adama Traore and Raul Jimenez, but the former midfielder knows the Premier League club may have to sell in order to improve their squad. 

Traore and Jimenez are reportedly attracting plenty of interest as Nuno Espirito Santo's Wolves continue to challenge the Premier League's elite since their return to the top flight in 2018-19. 

Wolves, who finished seventh last season, are sixth through 34 matches this term and flirting with another European berth thanks to Traore, Jimenez and a star-studded squad, including Portugal internationals Ruben Neves, Joao Moutinho and Rui Patricio. 

Jimenez – linked to Manchester United and Juventus – has scored 15 Premier League goals and tallied six assists in 2019-20, while reported Liverpool, Manchester City and Barcelona target Traore has set up nine goals and netted four of his own. 

While Traore and Jimenez could leave Molineux in big-money deals, Robinson insisted how Wolves reinvest transfer funds would be crucial in the club's bid to maintain their position and crack the Premier League's top five.

"The reality is, they've played fantastically well for Wolves this season, so there is going to be top clubs sniffing around them," Robinson, who made over 150 appearances for Wolves between 1995 and 2002, told Stats Perform News. 

"Wolves' decision will be: can they afford to keep them, can they afford to turn down these huge transfer fees and if they do and say we're going to turn down £70million for Traore, how can they invest and build the squad from where they are at the moment? 

"If they can't, they might have to look at the £70m and Nuno will ask the question, how much of that £70m can I have invested in the football squad because our starting point is lower than where we are today. That's why sometimes, unfortunately, managers lose jobs because their starting point is a lot lower, but expectations go higher based upon the club getting £70m and Nuno is spending £20m. 

"I hope they keep those players at Wolves because if they don't, there will be two major gaping holes. But I also understand football is a business and if they get £150m for two players, I'm not sure too many teams could turn that down. 

"You could bring in four or five £30m players. If you look at your squad, sometimes you have to go sideways, or backwards, to go forwards. But do it for the right reasons, do it because you're selling one of your key players knowing you have a youngster coming through in maybe 12 months.  

"That's an understandable plan you have as a club. That's why the executives and big boys are paid the big money, because they have to make major decisions. The buck stops with them. If they get it wrong, they lose their jobs." 

Wolves have come a long way since Chinese conglomerate group Fosun International purchased the club in 2016 – progressing from a mid-table side in the Championship to FA Cup semi-finalists last season and Europa League participants in 2019-20. 

Santo's side are six points adrift of fifth-placed Manchester United with four Premier League matches remaining, while Wolves – back in Europe for the first time since 1980 – are preparing to resume their Europa League last 16-tie against Olympiacos next month after the competition was suspended in March due to coronavirus following the 1-1 draw in Greece. 

"When you have Mexico's number nine, when you have three Portuguese international players, the Portugal international goalkeeper in your team, when you have four or five other players who cost you £10-15m each, when you have Adama Traore, who you've managed to buy and develop and now maybe possibly on the verge of a move to Liverpool for £70-80m, you have a standard of players that are of high quality," Robinson, now head coach of Australian team Newcastle Jets, said.  

"When you have better players, they are able to win you games in moments where games are tight. Games are tight in the Premier League especially. The investment has been fantastic, not only on the field but off it.

"They've tried to regain some of what Wolverhampton is about – it's a good old honest, working men's town. It's not the city, the bright lights of London, it's Wolverhampton. When you go there, you see it and you're proud to play for Wolves. But you're only proud to play for them if you understand what they're about. 

"They've managed to be successful and compete at the top half of the Premier League. That's very important and it's great, it's got the interest back in Wolves. It's good when they see their rivals – Aston Villa, Birmingham and West Brom especially – languishing.

"Their issue now, and it's a good issue to have, is to maintain where they are and keep up with the big boys, they need to invest at the minimum level to what they've already invested. We see football clubs sometimes going out of business and drop. Hopefully Wolves will never be at the stage because of the continued investment. 

"Most clubs in football are feeder clubs and I'll say this with the greatest respect to other than four or five teams, and even Premier League champions Liverpool had to sell Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho. They might have to sell either Sadio Mane or Mohamed Salah because there are clubs bigger that can pay the money.

"As a club, you know if you're successful you will lose your key players. How you replace them is key. 

"Wolves are in a great place. Hopefully they can stabilise where they are for the next three, four or five years and then continually try to crack the top five or six, which won't be easy." 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer urged his Manchester United players to use Paul Pogba's words as motivation to push for a Premier League title.

United extended their unbeaten run to 17 games with a 3-0 victory over Aston Villa on Thursday.

Pogba said the "standard" for United was to win the league title, something they last achieved in 2012-13.

United manager Solskjaer is confident the club will get back to the top, and said it was up to the individuals as to how quickly.

"I'm sure Man United will mount a challenge and get back to winning the league," he said.

"When that's going to happen is down to every single one of us that's here and how quickly we can make this process go.

"We're definitely improving as a team and developing, and we have to remember we've come a long way in one season.

"Let's just take Paul's words into the dressing room and expect and demand more of each other every single day."

Ahead of hosting Southampton on Monday, United are a point behind fourth-placed Leicester City.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Paul Pogba has returned to a different Manchester United team and is back enjoying his football.

Pogba scored his first goal since April last year as United extended their unbeaten run to 17 matches with a 3-0 win over Aston Villa in the Premier League on Thursday.

The France international is forming a fine combination with Bruno Fernandes in midfield, and may yet re-sign with United, where he is contracted until 2021 with the club holding an option for an extra year.

Solskjaer praised Pogba and said the midfielder had come back to a different team after returning from an ankle injury in June.

"We've still got a contract with Paul and I've said it so many times I think he's a fantastic person, fantastic player, one of the best midfielders in the world," the United manager told Sky Sports.

"I think he's proving that he's getting better and better because he's been out for so long which is natural. You can see he's enjoying himself.

"The team is a different team to the one he, called it left, when injured. Now the focus, the attitude, everything's miles better in that dressing room."

Fernandes opened the scoring from the penalty spot against Villa before Mason Greenwood netted his fourth goal in three games.

Solskjaer believes there is even more to come from Greenwood, who has 16 goals this season.

"He's 18. Of course he can get better if he keeps on doing the right things and he loves football, he's a footballer, natural footballer," he said.

"He's been in the academy since he was a little boy, his dad showed me a picture of the two of us when he was seven when I took my little one into one of the academy centres.

"He's been in the club for so long, he knows what we want from him and he knows that we believe in him."

Sitting a point behind fourth-placed Leicester City, United will look to continue their fine form when they host Southampton on Monday.

Manchester United's Thursday triumph over Aston Villa gave them a full week of Premier League wins over the midlands club.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men won 3-0 at Villa Park as they became the first team in Premier League history to achieve four successive victories by three goals or more.

They claimed another record too, having become the first side in the competition to beat the same opponent on every day of the week.

This fixture became the sixth in the Premier League era to have been contested on all seven days of the week, and Villa have suffered defeats from Monday through to Sunday over the years.

Bruno Fernandes scored a contentious penalty to set United on their way as the visitors were awarded a record-equalling 13th top-flight spot-kick this season.

Teenager Mason Greenwood and Paul Pogba were then also on target.

Paul Pogba vowed to help Mason Greenwood reach the top after the Manchester United teenager scored again at Aston Villa.

Greenwood, 18, dispatched another brilliant long-range strike into the net in United's 3-0 win at Villa Park to take his tally to four goals in three games.

He is only the second teenager, after United's all-time top scorer Wayne Rooney, to score in three successive Premier League matches for the club.

Pogba, who scored United's third to end his 15-month wait for a Premier League goal, has been impressed with what he has seen from Greenwood so far and the World Cup winner thinks there is even more to come.

"It's very good," the Frenchman told Sky Sports of playing alongside Greenwood.

"I enjoy to see them play in front, I enjoy this kid in training and in the game, and I will keep pushing him to be at the top.

"He has so much to do again. He can do even more than what he's doing right now. He's just this talent and he's shown that he can play in this team."

The in-form Bruno Fernandes was the other scorer as United extended their unbeaten run to 17 games in all competitions.

They became the first club in Premier League history to win four consecutive games by three goals or more and closed the gap to fourth-placed Leicester City to just one point.

"We're really pleased with ourselves but we know we have to carry on as well," Pogba added.

"We talk before the game, we talk in training, that we have to carry on. That's what Manchester is. It's a big club and we want to keep the level up always.

"The performances today and the past few weeks, they are very good and they are the standard of Manchester United."

Pogba's long-term future at United looked unclear as recently as January but he appears to be enjoying life with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side again after fighting back to fitness.

"Right now, I've been injured for a very long time – I focused on myself and getting back and helping the team as much as I can," he said when quizzed on being happier at the club.

"This year we have two goals – to go for the Europa League and FA Cup. So we focus on that."

Last summer Paul Pogba gave an interview which shocked me as a Manchester United fan.

The fact that he wanted to leave didn’t come as a massive surprise, however, the fact he expressed it, was for me the ultimate show of disrespect to a club which I’ve been supporting since the Trinidadian striker Dwight Yorke joined in 1998.

Pogba, in Tokyo for a promotion, said "After this season and everything that happened this season, with my season being my best season as well ... I think for me it could be a good time to have a new challenge somewhere else. I am thinking of this: to have a new challenge somewhere else."

What?! Where is the loyalty!?

As I said, he wanting a departure wasn’t shocking. His demeanour under the dour Jose Mourinho who dropped him like an unwanted case of the “virus” wasn’t healthy and it made the situation at Manchester United untenable. In fact, if Mourinho had been kept on as manager, the Frenchman would have likely returned to Juventus or gone to Real Madrid.

In September of 2018, Pogba went in front of reporters and openly called out the playing style under Mourinho after a 1-1 draw with Wolves.

“We should play much better against Wolves,” he said, “When we are at home we should attack, attack, attack. That’s Old Trafford. We are here to attack. I think teams are scared when they see Man United attacking and attacking. That was our mistake today. We’ve had three games at home and we’ve got only four points. It’s not enough.”

Three months later, Mourinho was sacked and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over as interim manager. And in his first 16 games, the Norwegian won 13 of them, before ending the season with 2 wins from 11 games. And it was during that summer break when Pogba made his comments in Tokyo. So when he said it was his best season at Manchester United, he was right. He led the club in goals, assists, completed passes, chances created, successful dribbles, key passes and shots on target.

Pogba was essentially a one-man show and he was tired.

As a fan, we expect players to show the same level of loyalty as we do. I was similarly disturbed when Cristiano Ronaldo wanted to leave for Real Madrid, when Roy Keane threatened to quit the club and when Wayne Rooney wanted to go… twice… thrice? I lost count.

However, all of them, superstars, were afforded the tools to be successful and they were! All three players hoisted both the Premier League and Champions League trophies. All three of them were part of great teams. All three of them were part of a structure envied by many teams.

So this is why criticism of Pogba who wanted to leave an ordinary team is unfounded. Football is the ultimate team sport. No matter how good an individual is, the team is only as good as the sum of its parts and the system in which they play. And Pogba, a player filled with ambition, missed what he had with Juventus, where he was one of the main men, and not the only man.

So when Bruno Fernandes arrived during the winter transfer window this season, Pogba raced to meet his new best friend and went out of his way to help him find somewhere to live. If Manchester United was a rehab centre, Fernandes was the drug Pogba wanted… such was his eagerness to help the Portuguese maestro settle. No relapse was to be expected here, as this was what Pogba needed.

And in an interview today with MUTV, Pogba gushed over his teammates, especially those in the attacking third.

“From behind I just enjoy it. I’m enjoying just watching Bruno, Rashford, Martial and Mason, who all played the last game, and seeing them score goals. You just keep applauding, it’s beautiful… they make me enjoy football every time!” he beamed.

“You can tell that the team is improving a lot,” he continued, “We play more as a team than we did before, we enjoy it, even more, we defend together, we attack together, and this team is stronger as well. The players who are on the bench or who don’t play every time, when they come on they help the team so the mentality is good and is right. All this together has put us where we are today.”

It’s clear that Pogba is driven by ambition which has to be reciprocated by the club. So bring on a champions league placing, a new contract for the Frenchman, Jadon Sancho and let the good times roll again at Manchester United.

Donald Oliver is a football and cricket commentator and a senior producer at SportsMax. Learn more about him at www.thedonaldoliver.com or email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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