Tuesday 26 March 2019

Solskjaer evokes spirit of '99 as United eye Cup glory

'Solskjaer won the FA Cup twice as a player and victory in this year's competition is now United's only realistic chance of silverware this season. ' Photo: Reuters/Matthew Childs/File Photo
'Solskjaer won the FA Cup twice as a player and victory in this year's competition is now United's only realistic chance of silverware this season. ' Photo: Reuters/Matthew Childs/File Photo

David Charlesworth

Manchester United's quest for FA Cup glory will have to be earned "the hard way", says stand-in manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

United's reward for overcoming Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium in the last round is a second trip to London to take on Chelsea, another of their Premier League top-four rivals, in the fifth round.

Solskjaer won the FA Cup twice as a player and victory in this year's competition is now United's only realistic chance of silverware this season. For the Norwegian, the first of those triumphs - as part of United's memorable treble in 1999 - was equally onerous.

"In '99 we beat them down at Stamford Bridge to get to the final," he said. "And we beat Arsenal and Liverpool as well. We did it the hard way then and we'll have to do it the hard way again if we want to get to the final. I'm looking forward to it."

Solskjaer suffered his first defeat in his 12th match as United caretaker in midweek after Paris St-Germain won 2-0 at Old Trafford in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 fixture, leaving the Red Devils a mountain to climb.

United will be without key pair Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial at Stamford Bridge - both of whom suffered injuries against PSG - and their manager is not about to take Chelsea lightly despite two humiliating away defeats recently.

Solskjaer was in attendance as Chelsea were hammered 6-0 by Manchester City last Sunday, a loss that came less than two weeks after a 4-0 humbling at Bournemouth. "They could have scored two or three easily in the first half in that game. There are fine margins. They could easily have been two or three up against Bournemouth as well when they lost 4-0. It's those little things that decide games. They have been up and down, but down there they're a tough team to play."

Former United winger Angel Di Maria provided both assists in PSG's victory on Tuesday night, returning to haunt his old club after a largely uninspiring 12 months at Old Trafford.

United paid a then British record £59.7m for the Argentinian in August 2014 and have since spent heavily on the likes of Paul Pogba, Martial and Romelu Lukaku. The trio have had varying degrees of success.

"You want to get the best out of your best players, of course," Solskjaer added. "That's a challenge all the time because we've got so many players. You don't just put every single good player in their preferred position, we need to have a system that we start from. But there are a couple of players that you might want to build your team around."

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