Belfast Telegraph

Manchester United will be ready for title tilt next season, warns Matic

Fulham 0 Manchester United 3

By Simon Peach

Nemanja Matic is optimistic about next season's title prospects after Manchester United moved into the Premier League's top four for the first time since the opening weekend.

Saturday saw Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's superb start to life as caretaker manager continue with a comprehensive 3-0 victory at strugglers Fulham.

Anthony Martial scored a superb solo effort in between two Paul Pogba goals at Craven Cottage, putting United back in the Champions League spots after a six-month absence.

They had been 11 points off fourth when Jose Mourinho was sacked, but Solskjaer's side have dropped just two points since his December appointment and Matic was buoyed by this latest win.

"We knew that if we win then we will be in fourth," the defensive midfielder said. "Of course, Chelsea have one game less, but we are happy.

"We played well, we fight for each other. Clean sheet, we scored three goals."

United are the Premier League's in-form side, with their upturn in fortunes seeing the likes of Matic talk up next season's championship chances.

"To win the league you need to win the games like we did in the last seven, eight games," said Matic, a two-time Premier League winner with Chelsea.

"So you need to win six, seven games in a row, then you can drop some points, to draw, to lose one game.

"This is the way to fight so if we play like this for the next season then we will be one of the teams who is going to fight for the title."

United can still lift a trophy this season but face a few crucial weeks, with Paris St Germain arriving at Old Trafford on Tuesday for the first leg of a Champions League last-16 tie before a trip to face Chelsea in the FA Cup.

Solskjaer's Reds are unbeaten in 11 matches in all competitions, with the Norwegian reaping the rewards of his good mood behind the scenes as well as in front of the cameras.

"He's always positive," Matic said. "Of course, when we don't play well, of course he needs to shout a little bit.

"But he's the same - always positive. The same when I see him in the press conference, he's like this with us also."

Claudio Ranieri is another positive manager, but things continue to go awry for embattled Fulham.

Survival is looking increasingly unlikely as the weeks go by and some of the Craven Cottage faithful turned on the Italian during the second half.

"I have soldiers, because until the end we wanted to score the goal," Ranieri said. "Even at 3-0 we wanted to score the goals.

"When you play against champions you have to stay calm, don't lose your composure. That's the real problem. They wanted to do something, but you have to stay calm and think.

"I understand the fans want to see the players fight until the end.

"Of course we lost 3-0, it's not an easy result, we are in a very dangerous situation, I understand."

Belfast Telegraph

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