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Solskjaer wants players to find scoring form against Partizan Belgrade

United will qualify for the knockout stages of the Europa League with victory on Thursday.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants his players to find their scoring form in Europe (Tim Goode/PA)
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants his players to find their scoring form in Europe (Tim Goode/PA)

By Eleanor Crooks, PA

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants his players to ‘fill their boots’ in the Europa League against Partizan Belgrade on Thursday.

United are looking to bounce back from another disappointing result in the Premier League with defeat to Bournemouth on Saturday by qualifying for the knockout stages of the Europa League.

Solskjaer’s side have taken seven points from their three games so far but have only scored two goals, while they have managed more than one goal in a Premier League game on just two occasions this season.

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants his players to get off to a good start against Partizan Belgrade (Tom Goode/PA)

The Norwegian said: “We’ll have to start tomorrow and hope Partizan don’t remember this with joy.

“I played in quite a few games at home and if you get a good start you can fill your boots and hopefully we can get off to a good start tomorrow. Front-foot football.

“We’ve had so many games where we’ve been 1-0 up and now it’s about, come on, let’s go for the second and third because maybe we’ve taken a step back and said we need to get the result for me, and I’d rather these boys just go for and make a mistake or two.”

United had appeared to have turned a corner prior to the Bournemouth game with a run of three straight victories but Solskjaer accepts there will be bumps along the road to improvement.

He said: “You’re disappointed when you lose a game and of course we were on half a run. But it won’t happen in one instance that you turn everything round.

“We’ve got a great chance now to qualify for the next round, which then means the last two games you can try out a few things.

“There’s never a shortcut in football. It’s hard work, stick together, team spirit. They want to do well and for one reason or another sometimes we haven’t got the results. We know we’re on the right track. Now is the chance to get two wins before the (international) break.”

United will be without defender Victor Lindelof, who played at Bournemouth having been a doubt for the game but is now sidelined once more.

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Nemanja Matic remains absent for Manchester United (Martin Rickett/PA)

Left-back Luke Shaw, who has been out with a hamstring injury since August, was back on the grass but training away from the squad, while Eric Bailly, Diogo Dalot, Angel Gomes, Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba and Axel Tuanzebe all remain absent.

Solskjaer will again use Europe as a chance to give more of his young players an opportunity, and Matej Kovar and Ethan Laird could both be included in the squad.

Captain Ashley Young has no doubt the club is heading in the right direction, saying: “I know what I see day in, day out at training.

“The boys have been working as hard as possible to go out and get results. Obviously things haven’t gone as well as we’d have liked. But that’s not going to dampen our spirits.

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Ashley Young wants Manchester United to go on a winning run (Joe Giddens/PA)

“We’ve got a good game tomorrow to go and qualify out of the group stages and we’ve got games coming up that we believe are winnable games so I think from tomorrow’s game we go on another run and keep putting points on the board.”

Winning the Europa League, as United did two years ago, offers a route into the Champions League, but Solskjaer is not giving up on the top four.

He said: “It’s one route. You’re not going to talk about the end league table in November. I don’t think anyone can predict that already. We haven’t got as many points as we’d like but we’ll challenge to get to the top four.”

The United boss, meanwhile, is not planning a spending spree in January to try to boost results.

He said:
“(With) transfers we always look at the long term. It might be none, might be one, might be two. But it’s always the summer window that’s the big one. You can’t do too many good deals in January.”

PA

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