Ole Gunnar Solskjaer thinks Manchester United “shouldn’t be considered title-chasers” after their 3-3 draw with Everton.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s 95th-minute equaliser sealed a sensational comeback for Everton as United missed a chance to go level on points at the top of the Premier League with Manchester City, who have two games in hand and play Liverpool live on Sky Sports on Sunday.
Solskjaer said: “We’re not talking about winning titles. We’ve come a long way this team. We shouldn’t even be considered as title-chasers. That’s one for you [the media] – we’ve got to be better as a team and let’s see where we end up. Going forward, we need to stop conceding easy goals.
“They had three shots that hit between the goals and they scored three goals. It’s disappointing. And when it’s in the last minute of added time it’s very disappointing. I wouldn’t blame anyone on the goals but we know we can defend better.”
Redknapp: Man Utd should believe they can win title
Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp disagreed with Solskjaer’s assessment of United’s credentials as title challengers, insisting the state of the Premier League season represented too good an opportunity not to believe they could win the league.
“Manchester United should be [talking about the title]. This is a unique year; you’re never going to get a better chance,” Redknapp said.
“Liverpool have lost important players and are not at the same level they were last year. Manchester City are, of course, an incredible side, but they may still have a blip, they may get their doubts.
“Going forward, some of the players in this Manchester United team, they should be believing, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should be saying that as well. People say take each game as it comes, but this is the year that anything is possible.
“This isn’t a team of kids, they are a team full of experience, full of international players. The manager should be telling the players to believe they can do it. I was surprised he said that [they were not title contenders].”
Neville analyses United’s performance – and late setback
Sky Sports’ Gary Neville:
“If you look at the period they are in, it’s definitely turned a little bit. United have lost to Sheffield United and now they’ve drawn against Arsenal, Liverpool and Everton tonight. The results have started to turn a little bit the other way.
“Tonight, they played well. But if you make mistakes like that in a game of football, you are going to be in serious trouble. In moments defensively, they were really bad. From De Gea, it was really weak with the parry-out.
“Manchester United controlled the game, they responded well to the two goals they conceded, but without the fourth goal they were in a situation where with any attack you are in trouble. And it came so late that United had no time to react.
“I actually think United played well – I can’t think of a better all-round performance this season. The two up front – Cavani and Fernandes – were brilliant. There was a holder in midfield but defensively they were poor in moments. It was like a reverse of what has been happening, where they’ve played poorly and won games with good attacking moments but tonight they played really well but they lost through poor defensive moments.
“De Gea at the end doesn’t even come out in line with the ball – you want your goalkeeper to eat the striker. Take him out. It wasn’t a great night for the goalkeeper or the centre-backs.”
“Could the goalkeeper be a little braver? I wouldn’t be happy if I was a United defender. Calvert-Lewin is brave but De Gea is not.”
Solskjaer: ‘All we had to was get the ball in the corner…’
United boss Solskjaer also expressed his frustration with the nature of his side’s concessions.
“We conceded three goals from three shots on target,” Solskjaer lamented.
“Why was there were four minutes? That’s beyond me,” said Solskjaer. “All we had to do was get the ball in the corner and see it out. But we didn’t.
“We didn’t deserve to be 2-0 up at half time – we scored fantastic goals but we dilly-dallied too much. We had possession but it was too slow. After they scored we played some very good stuff. We should have seen it off by scoring the fourth. I think the front four played well and caused them problems but that wasn’t the problem.
“Results create the mood and the last kick of the ball makes us go home really disappointed as we’ve lost two points on a long thump through the middle which we should have defended better. But if you look at the overall performance the second half was good.”
How the dramatic finale unfolded
90: The referee indicates there will be a minimum of four minutes added on.
92.17: Manchester United make a substitution, bringing Axel Tuanzebe on for Mason Greenwood. An extra 30 seconds would be expected to be added on.
93.23: Referee Moss awards United a free-kick deep in their half of the pitch. Everton’s Godfrey kicks the ball away, delaying the restart. “That might well get Manchester United over the line,” suggests commentator Rob Hawthorne.
94:04: De Gea takes the free-kick. But instead of kicking the ball to either side of the pitch, the Manchester United goalkeeper hits the free-kick straight down the middle of the pitch.
94:09: Mason Holgate beats Cavani to the header. The ball is immediately played on to Sigurdsson who flicks it around the corner to Richarlison who in turn plays in King. Running just over the halfway line, King is brought down by Tuanzebe, who has yet to touch the ball since his introduction, resulting in a booking for the defender and a free-kick for Everton. The referee blows for the foul with 94.15 on the clock.
94:45: Digne takes the free-kick…
94:49: Calvert-Lewin levels with the final kick of the match.