Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has no intention of settling for second place, despite his disappointment at Manchester United’s scrappy draw with embattled West Brom.
Having been top of the Premier League just 19 days ago, the Red Devils now sit seven points behind leaders Manchester City, who also boast a game in hand.
United have paid for their recent drop in form and failed to win for the fourth time in five league games on Sunday as Sam Allardyce’s relegation-threatened Baggies secured a hard-fought 1-1 draw at the Hawthorns.
Mbaye Diagne gave the visitors a shock lead 80 seconds into the game and Solskjaer’s side failed to kick on after Bruno Fernandes superbly levelled just the break.
“It’s disappointing, of course,” the United boss said. “We’ve come away with two points less than we wanted to.
“The start was difficult. They put us under pressure as you expect when they get a kick-off and we couldn’t clear our lines.
“Then again, we get 90 minutes-plus to get two goals. I’d rather concede in the first than 92nd minute.
“We just couldn’t get enough big chances. Great goal we scored, fantastic technique by Bruno after some very good build-up play and pressure.”
Asked if United were now playing for second spot, Solskjaer said: “No, I don’t think so. I think no one will give it away this early.
“Of course no one knows this season, it’s so unpredictable, life is so unpredictable. Anything can happen.
“Of course we’re not going to settle for second, of course we’re not.”
United put in a meek display on an afternoon when Harry Maguire was aggrieved to see referee Craig Pawson overturn his decision to award a penalty for a foul on him, having reviewed footage of Semi Ajayi’s challenge.
Offside would surely have been called had Pawson not heeded the video assistant referee’s advice, but there was no intervention from Stockley Park when Diagne put his hand in Victor Lindelof’s face when opening the scoring.
Solskjaer had no problems with the opener being given, but pointed to the inconsistency that saw Maguire have a goal ruled out at Burnley for less last month, with the intervention of VAR for the skipper’s overturned penalty also irking him.
“I think we all want consistency and a fair game,” the United boss said. “But then again there’s human error that we all expect from our game. That’s what happens.
“But the penalty we could have had today, it’s a clear foul. If you only look at the clash between the centre-back and Harry, that’s a foul.
“But from what I see, I see Harry being in an offside position, so someone must have been asleep in that VAR office at Stockley Park or wherever they are.
“Someone needs to brew some coffee because it could’ve easily been avoided by saying, ‘Nah, he’s offside, let’s move on’.”
😲 What. A. Save. 😲
— Premier League (@premierleague) February 14, 2021
Ex-United goalkeeper Sam Johnstone produced an exceptional stoppage-time save to deny his former club a last-gasp winner, tipping a Maguire header on to a post at the end of a match in which the Baggies had better chances.
David De Gea produced a superb double save to thwart Diagne, who missed another great opportunity as West Brom boss Allardyce was left to wonder what might have been.
“I’m very pleased,” he said. “Excellent application, excellent in terms of how we limited Manchester United to very few opportunities and then the other way really, really pleased in the first context of how many chances we created.
“But unfortunately, disappointed we didn’t convert more of them because we would have actually won this game on chances created and how good the chances were.
“We had the better opportunities than Man United to win this match, but obviously I have to settle for a point and I’m really pleased with the overall performance.
“To say that I’m slightly disappointed in the result is a big thing to say when your team is struggling against a team who are top of the league like Man United, but that’s how I feel. I feel a little disappointed we didn’t win it today.”