Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Manchester United’s league position is not a concern after a home draw with Aston Villa left them ninth after 14 games.
Tyrone Mings’ first Premier League goal levelled the scores shortly after Victor Lindelof had given United a 64th-minute lead, though, the England defender did have to wait to see if it would be ruled out by the assistant video referee (VAR).
But the assistant referee kept his flag down and VAR proved he was correct to do so as Villa avoided defeat at Old Trafford for the first time since 2009. Villa skipper Jack Grealish gave his side a deserved lead with a magnificent curling shot after 11 minutes only for United to equalise against the run of play just before the interval when a Marcus Rashford header hit the inside of a post before bouncing in off the back of former United keeper Tom Heaton. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men pushed forward looking for a late winner but Anthony Martial failed to convert their best chance as United had to settle for a second successive draw against a promoted team.
United have now taken just 18 points from their opening 14 league games. That means Solskjaer must guide them to wins in their next three games if they are to surpass the 26 points Jose Mourinho amassed when he was sacked after 17 games in 2018-19. “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,” Solskjaer said. “I just need to make sure that we get performances and get three or four performances after each other – and results.
“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.” Seven days ago, Solskjaer said he could have replaced all 10 outfield players after an especially dismal first half at Sheffield United. The general feeling in the media room – from journalists, former players and staff alike – was that their performance before the break here had been no better. There was no obvious benefit gained from Solskjaer’s decision to excuse his entire starting line-up, plus coaches Michael Carrick and Kieran McKenna, from the draining midweek Europa League trip to Astana.
United’s equaliser came against the run of play and the lack of invention in midfield contrasted sharply with the threat posed by Grealish. There were sporadic boos for the home side at the final whistle but in a period where Tottenham and Arsenal have both sacked their managers, United are behind both in the table, putting Solskjaer under scrutiny, even if the United hierarchy remain supportive of the Norwegian.