(Reuters) – Manchester United’s midweek win over Tottenham Hotspur has lifted sagging spirits at the club ahead of Saturday’s derby against Manchester City, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said on Friday.
Marcus Rashford’s brace ensured former manager Jose Mourinho’s return to Old Trafford ended in a 2-1 defeat on Wednesday and the win for United — which moved them up to sixth — gave the club something to celebrate after their worst start to a season since 1988.
“Confidence is a strange thing in football. You can get performances and results like Wednesday night and it boosts it so much and I know our boys will be up for it,” Solskjaer told reporters.
“We’re going away against arguably the best team in England. It will be a difficult game but we need consistency. Before everyone was doom and gloom but it’s a chance to turn that doubt into belief.
“If we can manage to get another performance, the confidence, the way we played against Tottenham, then we can come out of it with a result.”
Anthony Martial did not play a part against Spurs with an injury and Solskjaer confirmed the French forward would not play 90 minutes against City while midfielder Paul Pogba is still sidelined with an ankle issue.
“We hope to have Anthony definitely for part of the game, not sure if he’s able to start,” the Norwegian manager added.
“Paul won’t be (ready), no. I hope Paul will be back as soon as possible, he’s out on the grass training. I said (he would return) in 2019 so hopefully before the new year.”
Solskjaer also commented on Corriere dello Sport’s ‘Black Friday’ headline, which was on the Italian sports daily’s front page along with pictures of former United team mates Chris Smalling and Romelu Lukaku.
The Norwegian said it was the “worst front page” he had ever seen.
“We’ve been in touch with Chris, just so he knows that we’ll back him and we support him. And with Romelu as well,” Solskjaer said.
“(Smalling) is a boy who couldn’t be here without being a regular and we decided on that. I am so, so happy for him because we can see the top player he is,” adding that he expects the English defender to return to United after his loan ends.
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)