Solskjaer not yet worried about league position

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admits his side did not deserve to win against Aston Villa but insists he is not yet concerned about their league position.

Having recovered from Jack Grealish’s brilliant opener they took the lead through goalkeeper Tom Heaton’s own goal and Victor Lindelof’s header only to pegged back to 2-2 by Tyrone Mings’ volley.

Victory would have lifted United to fifth, just six points behind Chelsea, but a second successive league draw moved them to only ninth.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with Marcus Rashford
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with Marcus Rashford

“First half it seemed we couldn’t get to grips with going 1-0 down, I didn’t think we dealt with that particularly well,” said the Norwegian, whose side have made their worst start to a league campaign since 1988-99.

“Second half was better. We created loads of big chances that should have won this game but overall I don’t think we deserved to, especially after the first half.

“I wouldn’t have sat here and talked about us being fifth if we had got that one goal extra, so the league table at this point is not the biggest concern because it is so tight.

“I just need to make sure that we get performances and get three or four performances after each other – and results.

“What I can say is so far we have had the lead in so many games and we haven’t been able to win those games, six or seven times we’ve been 1-0 up, or 2-1 or 3-2 like last week.

“We should be better at seeing those games into wins.”

Since being appointed permanent manager in March, Solskjaer has won just six of 22 league matches.

He has had to contend with injuries to key players, notably Paul Pogba this season, but he maintains there are signs of progress – even if the opening 45 minutes against Villa left him scratching his head having left his starting line-up at home to prepare instead of making the 6,000-mile Europa League round trip.

“I think there is loads of evidence these boys are closer to winning games than losing games,” he said.

“We have to work on different things; the first half wasn’t good enough because we worked on that as all the boys stayed here as the young boys went to Kazakhstan.

Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish  celebrates scoring
Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish celebrates scoring

“They should have been out of the traps quicker.”

Villa boss Dean Smith was full of praise for Grealish, although he said it was nothing less than he had become accustomed to.

“A super goal. It’s what I’ve come to expect from him,” he said.

“First 30 minutes I thought he was running the game, everything good coming from us was through him and that’s not overlooking the whole performance.

“He is a a top player and when you have top players you get performances at places like this.

Aston Villa’s Tyrone Mings with manager Dean Smith after the final whistle
Aston Villa’s Tyrone Mings with manager Dean Smith after the final whistle

“I thought he was good at (Manchester) City before he got a whack and we missed him against Liverpool.”

Nevertheless, Smith felt short-changed by a point at Old Trafford after they gifted United a way back into the game after misjudgements by Mings and goalkeeper Heaton in the build-up.

“I sit here frustrated probably because of the the manner of the (United) first goal, which marred the performance of the first half,” he said.

“That goal got their tails up and they started the second half better but we weathered the storm.

“We’ve taken the lead at some top clubs, I thought today was a good performance, especially in the first half.”