(Reuters) – Following their Champions League elimination, Manchester United must think about nothing else but a potentially season-defining week as the Premier League club looks to secure a top four finish, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has said.
United, who were knocked out of Europe by Barcelona in the quarter-finals on Tuesday, play Everton, Manchester City and Chelsea over the next eight days as they look to improve on their sixth place in the league standings.
With five games left in the season, Tottenham Hotspur (67 points), Arsenal, Chelsea (both 66) and United (64) are separated by three points with only two Champions League qualification spots up for grabs.
“These three games coming up, they’re our short-term focus,” Solskjaer told reporters ahead of Sunday’s trip to Everton. “We shouldn’t think about anything but having a great week ahead of us.
“It’s great to have games to look forward to and the focus will change straight away. We know it’s going to be a hard game at Goodison Park, other teams have seen that as well.
“We would have loved a semi-final to play in but that’s not the case so we just have to focus on the games we’ve got. We want to be here (in the Champions League) again, and to be back at these stadiums again we need to get among the top four.”
The Norwegian was honest in his assessment of a few players who he said needed a ‘reality check’, with Anthony Martial one of the players he said he spoke to.
The French forward, who has scored 12 goals this season in all competitions has scored only four goals in 16 appearances since Solskjaer took over in December.
“Most of them have really impressed me in their attitude and, of course, there are some who need to get a reality check on where they’re at,” the manager said.
“I’ve spoken to individuals and they know and Anthony is one I’ve spoken to. Anthony’s got massive talent, got a new contract… He knows we believe in him, so (he needs to) just keep working.”
Solskjaer also said the club would make new signings in the close season to strengthen the squad but they would proceed with caution in the transfer market.
“We know we have to be realistic here and we know we have a job to be done,” he said. “There’s no quick fix, it’s not like we buy seven players and suddenly we’re in the right shape, we are where we are.
“We have to take it step-by-step and of course there will be signings made in the summer.”
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)