Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has credited January arrivals Bruno Fernandes and Odion Ighalo with helping to add resilience to Manchester United’s squad during the second half of this season.
The Reds were defeated for the first time since January, in all competitions, in Sunday’s Emirates FA Cup semi-final tie with Chelsea, but will be looking to extend our unbeaten run to 14 league games when we face West Ham United on Wednesday, and Leicester City on Sunday.
Avoiding defeat in those final two league fixtures will be enough for Champions League football next season, and the manager believes his winter signings – coupled with the return from injury of Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford – have been vital in helping us close what was a significant gap to our top-four rivals.
“I think we’ve grown over the whole season,” Solskjaer told reporters.
“The additions of Odion, Bruno and Paul coming back, [plus] Marcus coming back is a strength for us. We are better as a group and more robust and resilient.
“The proof is in the pudding and we’ll have to see on Wednesday how they perform.”
The disappointing 3-1 reverse to Chelsea at Wembley at the weekend put paid to hopes of a first domestic trophy for Solskjaer, although silverware could still arrive by way of next month’s Europa League.
Ahead of a massive five days for United, the boss said that his side need to react to the setback of defeat, as they have before, and get a positive result over West Ham at Old Trafford, which will see us leapfrog Leicester going into the final-day showdown at the King Power Stadium.
“When you lose a game, you’re hurt and disappointed,“ he admitted. ”You’ve just got to focus on the next thing.
“A defeat isn’t the end of the world – it was the end of the FA Cup dream and the final, but now it’s business as usual and onto the next game.
“We’ve had so many setbacks as a club before. We’ve lost big games before and we’ve turned that around and that’s what we need to do now.”