United have 'no excuses' if they lose another semi, says Solskjaer

Manchester United have ‘no excuses’ if they lose another semi-final says Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as he delivers a rallying cry to inspire his squad to get over their rotten record in the last four

  • Manchester United meet rivals Manchester City in the EFL Cup semi-final 
  • Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men have been in formidable form in recent weeks
  • Solskjaer is in pursuit of his first trophy since becoming United manager 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says his players have ‘no excuses’ going into a Manchester derby in the Carabao Cup after losing three semi-finals last season.

It included defeat to Manchester City at the same stage of this competition after Manchester United were blown away 3-1 in the first leg at Old Trafford before going out on aggregate after a 1-0 win at the Etihad.

United also lost in the semi-finals of the FA Cup to Chelsea and Europa League to Sevilla as they failed to pick up their first piece of silverware under Solskjaer.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s resurgent Manchester United meet Manchester City on Wednesday

United have lost their last three semi-finals, including one to Chelsea in the FA Cup last season

But Solskjaer is in bullish spirits with United in impressive winning form ahead of facing City

Wednesday’s semi at Old Trafford is a one-legged affair and the United manager believes that his team is better prepared for the challenge this time around.

‘It’s always a good question, how important is this game, and then I can answer – very!’ said Solskjaer. ‘The semi-final is a chance to get to the final and for this team getting our hands on a trophy would be a very big step.

‘We’ve developed a lot in the last 12 months since the last semi in the Carabao Cup. It’s not just learning to win semis, we’ve also earned the right to feel we can go all the way with our performances.

‘We’re confident and going into the game in good form – there are no excuses.

‘You play football to win and to get your hands on trophies. It gives you the hunger to get more.’

‘When you get to a semi you’ve done a lot of good work to get there and you play better opposition. We’ve improved immensely in a year since the last semi and even from when we were in Europe in August.

‘When you win games of football you don’t think about it being a semi-final or a normal game or a league game or a quarter-final, you just want to win it.’

Last month’s Manchester derby ended in a drab goalless draw at Old Trafford in the Premier League, and Solskjaer believes that was partly down to the fact that City were less reliant on a possession-based game and, like United, set up to counter attack.

United were dumped out of the last four of the Europa League by Sevilla in the 2019-20 season

And it was Pep Guardiola’s City who knocked them out of the EFL Cup semis last season

Solskjaer says his squad have improved enough to avoid disappointment this time around

‘You never know what kind of system he (Pep Guardiola) is going to come up with, but you’ve got to defend really well against City,’ added Solskjaer.

‘It’s hard to keep the ball in their half. You have to be brave, compact, trust your players and play out of their press. They’re one of the quickest ones to put the counter pressure on.

‘The last game didn’t have the X-factor, maybe because they were set up to counter-attack as well. City weren’t as possession-based against Chelsea (on Sunday), they were more counter-attacking. We’ve got to be aware of that as well as the possession game.

‘There have been some fascinating games and we feel we’ve got closer and closer, but you can’t control results.

‘Sometimes results don’t show the whole picture of the game. Some of our counter-attacking goals in the wins we’ve had have been brilliant. Away in the league when we could have scored four or five in a 10 or 15 minute period, our counter-attacks were out of this world.’

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