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Solskjaer calling on spirit of ’99 as Man Utd prepare for Liverpool clash

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants to use the Treble winning spirit of 1999 to get his Manchester United team on course for glory.

Solskjaer was the last gasp supersub hero when United met Liverpool at Old Trafford at the same stage of the FA Cup 22 years ago.

United boss Solskjaer scored the 90th minute winner as they staged a dramatic late turnaround against their bitter rivals as Dwight Yorke grabbed an 88th minute leveller in a 2-1 win before famously going on to lift the FA Cup, title and European Cup.

The Liverpool cup tie was almost a dress rehearsal for what was to follow in that season as Solskjaer scored the dramatic injury time winner against Bayern Munich to win the Champions League in the Nou Camp.

They also saw off title rivals Arsenal in the most dramatic of FA Cup semi finals at Villa Park and Solskjaer believes United can gain a “mental advantage” by seeing off Liverpool this weekend to set themselves up for the rest of the campaign.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says United can draw on the spirit of ’99

Solskjaer said: “Of course we can transform a few things from that season. We know that there’s tight moments, very fine margins. We know in that season we were close to going out against Liverpool.

“Peter Schmeichel saved a penalty from Dennis Bergkamp in the semi-final in injury time. Those moments, I think they gave us the mental advantage, especially in the semi-final.

“But against Liverpool as well in that fourth round, when you get that boost of turning 1-0 down to a 2-1 win against a big team it’s massive.

“The FA Cup is a run we’ve got to enjoy as long as it lasts. We got to the semis last year and as I said, we’re going to make a few changes but we’ll put a team out there that I hope can go through.”

United now find themselves top of the Premier League, firmly leading the title race and yet Solskjaer knows that his record in the cups will again be under the microscope if they lose to Liverpool on Sunday.

They lost another semi final to Manchester City in the Carabao Cup earlier this month having lost three semi finals last season alone.

United were only used to glory during Solskjaer’s days as a player and yet the Norwegian is now building a squad intent on challenging for silverware as manager. Solskjaer insists the title challenge in their priority but winning can become a habit.

Solskjaer scored the winner against Liverpool in the famous treble campaign
Solskjaer scored the winner against Liverpool in the famous treble campaign

Solskjaer believes that winning his first piece of silverware as boss will be a key moment in the development of his team – even if he admits he can no longer watch cup draws having been handed a nightmare path each time.

“Of course you want to get your hands on that first trophy, but it’s always the league position that’s the measure of how far you have come,” said Solskjaer.

“Anyone can have an easy cup run, I’m not one of those. I never get an easy cup run! I’m never going to watch a draw ever again because we always seem to pick out the difficult opponents.

“In a cup run, sometimes you can get to a final without really playing any of the top ones. This time around, we’ve picked one of the favourites and we know this is a big one if you want to go all the way.”

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insists his forwards are a match for anyone – including Liverpool.

Reigning champions Liverpool are seen as having the most prolific front three with Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino who have fired Jurgen Klopp’s men to the title and European glory in the past two seasons.

But Solskjaer, part of Sir Alex Ferguson’s all conquering United forward line, insists that his strikers will score goals galore and will be around for years to come.

Solskjaer said: “I’m very happy with my forwards. You’ve got talents like Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood and Anthony Martial, the experience of Edinson Cavani.

Edinson Cavani has proven to be an astute signing by Solskjaer
Edinson Cavani has proven to be an astute signing by Solskjaer

“It’s great to see them every day in training and in the games they complement each other. They’ve all got different attributes.

“This season Marcus has scored about 14 or 15. Anthony, Mason and Edi will definitely chip in and score goals. Last season Mason, Marcus and Anthony scored I don’t know how many – 60ish?

“We’ve got those three for many, many years anyway and Edi can help with his experience for the time that he’s here.

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“I used to play in a decent team and the gaffer had at least four centre-forwards to choose from. I think with the four front men we’ve got players there to choose from who can get us goals from any game against any opposition.

“I’m very pleased with the ones I’ve got and we’re working hard to get the relationships with all of them, that we can use them all in different ways. Sometimes maybe all four of them will play.”

Solskjaer was also clearly irked by some of the criticism of his team’s performance at Anfield last week amid accusations that United were too negative.

Who will win between Man Utd and Liverpool? Have your say below.

Rashford has scored 14 goals already this season
Rashford has scored 14 goals already this season

But Solskjaer insisted: “We attacked every time we got the ball, maybe too much. We kept giving it away, that was the challenge. We went forward too quickly. The thought that we weren’t attacking, for me I don’t understand that one.

“We kept giving it away. It’s the quality of what we did, we need to do better. We tried to press them high. It’s not easy, they played well, they played their way out of our press. We didn’t go out there to drop deep and try to soak up the pressure.

“They had five midfielders out there to play out plus a ‘keeper who is very capable. When you look back at it, I think it was a good game by the two teams. We played against a top Liverpool team. Yeah, Van Dijk is not there but everyone’s got an injury or two here or there. I was very pleased with the performance when I looked at it after.”




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