Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sets new target as Man Utd nudge their way up table

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says everything about this freakish season that Manchester United will be just a handful of points off top spot if they win their game in hand.

After a lamentable start which saw three defeats in their opening four Premier League games at home, the top four seemed a fanciful notion for United, let alone a title challenge.

But after another prosaic performance and a first league win at home this season, courtesy of some beneficial VAR decisions, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side are nudging their way up the table.

Solskajer knows his side must raise their level if they are to stand any chance of challenging near the top end of the table and was honest enough to admit as much after this fortuitous win.

But after a tough start blighted by a short pre-season and two international breaks, United's campaign can effectively start here, with no such interruptions between now and March.

“Now we'll have three or four months together and it's about staying together, sticking together, sticking to the way we want to play games and improve every time,” said Solskjaer.

“Defensively we're getting there, definitely. We're working hard, closing down, not conceding many chances, and we created enough chances to win this comfortably as well, but we need to be more clinical.

"We've got plenty of quality but sometimes the easiest – or the most difficult thing – is to play simple.

“Sometimes today, we wanted to over-complicate things. Yeah, we want players to seize moments of opportunity, but we need more flow, more rhythm, more passes, make the opposition move.

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may have missed out on Jadon Sancho in the summer, but he still made some big moves in the transfer market with Donny van de Beek, Alex Telles and Edinson Cavani all arriving.

But their start to the season has been a mixed bag, with a home defeat to Crystal Palace and a 6-1 thrashing by Spurs at one end of the scale, and a tremendous 2-1 win over PSG in Paris at the other.

The question now is whether they can find the right balance?

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“It could have been simpler. I know the players have been travelling away on international duty, and we just had this morning to prepare for this game.

“Hopefully we can hit some form like we did towards the end of last season.”

United midfielder Nemanja Matic echoed his boss, acknowledging the performance was unacceptable for a team of such attacking quality, with ambitions to push for the title.

“We're happy with the three points but not our performance,” said Matic. 'We have to do better.

“When we score first we have to go on and kill the game as soon as possible, especially in the Premier League. We have to improve on that.

“Every team has quality, every team is dangerous, but 1-0 is not enough. They almost scored, they had one hit the crossbar. So they were always dangerous.

“We have to make sure next time we have more concentration in attack and kill the game early.”

The game was decided by VAR. Ref David Coote awarded West Brom a penalty a minute into the second-half, when Bruno Fernandes brought down Conor Gallagher.

But Coote reversed his own decision after reviewing the incident on a pitchside monitor, Fernandes getting the slightest touch on the ball before clattering into Gallagher's right shin.

Minutes later, United won a penalty when Darnell Furlong handled a Juan Mata cross, Fernandes scoring at the second attempt after keeper Sam Johnstone came off his line too early.

That was enough to secure back-to-back league wins for United for the first time since last season when a 14-game unbeaten run saw them clinch third spot on the final day.

A similar run is needed now if United are to overcome such a wretched start to the season and prove they can be in the mix for the title in this most peculiar of seasons.

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