Solskjaer: Man Utd need five wins to finish in Premier League top four
Defeat against Wolves dents United’s Champions League qualification hopes
Wolves 2 Manchester United 1
For the second time in three weeks, Wolves fed on the frailties of Manchester United last night and left their opponents hurting.
Last month it was a victory in the FA Cup and yesterday at Molineux Wolves beat United 2-1. The Premier League encounter was the Red Devils’ third defeat in four matches.
The result has also damaged United’s chances of finishing in the top four and securing a place in next season’s Uefa Champions League.
They remain fifth, level on points with Tottenham, and two behind Arsenal who are in third. But United have played a game more than the north London clubs and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knows that with only six matches remaining any more defeats could be fatal to their chances of a top-four finish.
“We need 15 points in the last six games [to make the top four], so we don’t have room for many more losses,” conceded the Norwegian, who was appointed full-time manager last week.
“We played some fantastic stuff and in the first 20 minutes we should have been two or three up… but we didn’t pounce on big moments in the game. We created our own downfall.”
United went one up on 13 minutes when Scott McTominay scored his first goal for the club but their lead lasted only until Diogo Jota converted Raul Jimenez’s pass on 25 minutes.
The visitors were the architects of their own demise after the break with Ashley Young sent off by Mike Dean for two bookable offences in five minutes. It was the 100th Premier League red card shown by referee Dean.
Later it got worse for United when Chris Smalling put the ball into his own net 13 minutes from time.
Solskjaer had no quibble with Dean’s judgement, saying: “It was the right decision from the ref. When you’re on a yellow you’re always in danger if you go down.
“It was probably a bad decision [from Young]. In the heat of the moment he reached the ball but it was just a little bit too high.”
Wolves in hunt for silverware
The result has underlined how Wolves are becoming a serious player in the Premier League. Now seventh in the table, they play Watford in the FA Cup semi-final on Sunday.
Manager Nuno Espirito Santo was delighted with the result against United. “It was a good night, a good game of football,” he said. “The extra effort the boys had to make and how they reacted to the first goal – I’m really pleased.
“[Now] the preparation starts for the semi-final. We will rest and prepare for a difficult game.”
Solskjaer was philosophical about the defeat, but after his sensational start to his managerial career at Old Trafford (eight wins in a row) United are in a worrying dip.
Next up is the daunting challenge of Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final clash. The Norwegian knows that if his side are to have any chance of victory next Wednesday they need to be at the top of their game.
“I don’t think there’s been a kickback after the good results or any kind of re-setting,” he said, when asked to account for the string of recent defeats. “It’s football and that’s why we love it.”
Premier League results, fixtures and TV guide
Results Tuesday 2 April
- Watford 4 Fulham 1
- Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 Manchester United 1
FixturesWednesday 3 April
- Chelsea vs. Brighton and Hove Albion (7.45pm)
- Manchester City vs. Cardiff City (7.45pm, live on Sky Sports)
- Tottenham Hotspur vs. Crystal Palace (7.45pm)
Friday 5 April
- Southampton vs. Liverpool (8pm, live on Sky Sports)
Saturday 6 April
- AFC Bournemouth vs. Burnley (3pm)
- Huddersfield Town vs. Leicester City (3pm)
- Newcastle United vs. Crystal Palace (3pm)
Sunday 7 April
- Everton vs. Arsenal (2.05pm, live on Sky Sports)
Monday 8 April
- Chelsea vs. West Ham United (8pm, live on Sky Sports)
FA Cup semi-final fixtures
Saturday 6 April
- Manchester City vs. Brighton and Hove Albion (5.30pm, live on BBC One)
Sunday 7 April
- Watford vs. Wolves (4pm, live on BT Sport)