Thursday, April 18News That Matters

Solskjaer identifies Man Utd’s biggest title rival this season

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer views Chelsea as Manchester United’s biggest title rival this campaign ahead of Manchester City and Liverpool, according to reports.

The United manager is desperate to bring the Premier League title back to Old Trafford for the first time since 2011, when Sir Alex Ferguson was still in charge.

In a bid to win the league, the Red devils strengthened Solskjaer’s squad with the signings of Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane this summer window.

United finished second last season – 12 points behind rivals Man City – and have taken seven points from their first three matches of the 2021-22 campaign.

Even at this stage of the campaign, it appears as though four clubs – United, City, Chelsea and Liverpool – are a level above their domestic rivals.

And Solskjaer fears Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea more than Man City and Liverpool, according to The Sun. The Blues have thrived since the German became manager last January, winning the Champions League last term and reaching the FA Cup final.

Like United, Chelsea also enjoyed a remarkable transfer window, spending almost £100m on Romelu Lukaku and securing a loan deal for Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez.

The Sun claim Solskjaer is confident his United side can end the club’s wait for a Premier League title and has even told the team that they are better than the treble-winners of 1999.

But the Norwegian coach is reported to be wary of Chelsea’s brilliant squad and hopes the decision to sell Lukaku in 2019 does not come back to haunt United.

Speaking last week, Gary Neville sais Ronaldo’s arrival at the theatre of dreams brought United into the title conversation, but said City and Chelsea were still the two frontrunners to win the league.

‘I made the prediction that it would be Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United [in that order] and I’m not going to change that because of the signing of Ronaldo,’ Neville told Sky Sports.

‘I’m going to stick with that because I don’t think the Ronaldo signing makes them a better team than Chelsea, who were the Champions League winners last season, or Manchester City, who were 20 points clear.

‘Absolutely it brings them closer to winning the title, it will absolutely get them closer. But do I think it will win them the title at this point? No I don’t. But now I’m more excited about Manchester United challenging for the title than I was maybe five or six days ago.

‘I don’t think they will. I want them to. Cristiano Ronaldo and Raphael Varane will have the mentality to win United the title, there’s no doubt, but if I had to put my house on it now, do I think they’ll win the title this season? No. But I’m desperate for them to win the title. I’m just being pragmatic.

‘I think there’s an element that you have to be in for these players if you’re Manchester United. Whether that wins you the title or not, I’m unsure. It gives them a far better chance than they had 48 hours ago.

‘He isn’t coming for Champions League places. He’s coming for personal accolades and titles. There is no doubt about that. I hope that he can be the difference, because if he gets 10% out of every other player there’s a big chance. There’s a big chance.

‘But let’s be clear, Manchester City have been exceptional for the last three or four seasons. Chelsea just won the Champions League and now have a better team this season. So they’re also against the best two teams in Europe, three if you count Liverpool.

‘The Premier League is at the highest standard it has been for a long, long time. It’s not an easy Premier League this one, it’s got back to the top level in Europe and I think Manchester United are up against really good sides.

‘In years gone by I might have said this Man United team will win the title by 10 points, but it’s such a strong Premier League this one.’

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