Stymied at Leeds, Man United want attacking spark to grow to be Premier League title contenders


LEEDS, England — A goalless draw with Leeds United did little to recommend Manchester United are certified to be a part of a European Tremendous League, however there was sufficient on present at Elland Highway to indicate Ole Gunnar Solskjaer what is important to make his group real title contenders. Their slim hopes of chasing down Premier League leaders Manchester Metropolis this season are all however over after they had been compelled to accept some extent in West Yorkshire.

United did sufficient to win, however their finest effort was a free kick from Marcus Rashford that was athletically tipped over the crossbar by Illan Meslier. In any other case, the Leeds goalkeeper loved a comparatively quiet afternoon. The primary league assembly between the groups at Elland Highway since 2003 had not one of the chaos of United’s 6-2 win at Outdated Trafford in December.

Solskjaer’s aspect have solely misplaced 4 Premier League video games this season — the identical quantity as Metropolis — however have drawn 10. It factors to a lacking piece of attacking high quality wanted to resolve tight video games, and Solskjaer will hope it may be addressed throughout the summer season switch window.

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Twice on Sunday, Daniel James appeared to have been despatched via however fluffed his traces. One other good probability fell to Bruno Fernandes, however he dragged his shot extensive. The guests’ frustration virtually boiled over within the second half when Harry Maguire and Fred had been concerned in an indignant change.

“I assumed we performed effectively, dominated the second half, simply did not have the ball to fall appropriately for us within the moments we had,” Solskjaer stated after the match. “When two groups meet, you create issues, you clear up issues, they provide you issues to consider and we made them alter to us. We put a extremely massive shift in. I’ve seen Leeds run over groups within the second half and it was the other.

“You do not lose momentum — we’re disillusioned to not win, however the boys have a whole lot of respect for Leeds. This isn’t going to be one thing we glance again on as derailing our season.

“Perhaps we simply missed that spark. With a few additions, we’re all the time trying to strengthen the squad.”

The ESL debacle of the previous seven days has sparked extra scrutiny of the way in which United are run off the pitch. Forward of kickoff, a airplane was flown over the stadium carrying the message “£2bn stolen Glazers out.”

On the pitch, nonetheless, Solskjaer has a lot to be inspired about. The club-record run of away matches with out defeat has been prolonged to 24. It is also now 13 video games unbeaten within the league since defeat to Sheffield United in January, and Champions League soccer will likely be assured with one other 4 factors from the ultimate 5 video games.

In January, it appeared like United had been contenders for the title, however the subsequent step will likely be to keep up a problem into April and Might. Attracts must be become wins.

“We have now to win each single recreation to place stress on Metropolis,” stated Solskjaer. “That is two factors dropped that makes them very secure. However we push on. We have now two semis arising and Liverpool within the center. It was a tough week final week however it’s the enterprise finish of the season. You’re employed so that each recreation issues.”

Leeds, to their credit score, have performed 5 video games in opposition to the Massive Six at Elland Highway and haven’t misplaced one. A top-10 end of their first season again within the Premier League can be simply reward for the way in which Marcelo Bielsa and his gamers have attacked the division. With 5 video games left, they’re ninth within the desk, forward of “Tremendous League” Arsenal. Bielsa, although, continues to be looking for enchancment.

“In not one of the video games in opposition to the Massive Six sides, other than in opposition to Arsenal, had been we in a position to dominate; however the attracts in opposition to Manchester Metropolis, Liverpool and Chelsea are good video games to guage the gamers,” he stated. “Clearly at this second we won’t go into the video games to dominate these sort of video games. Dominating to attempt to win at this second, we have not achieved that.”

For United, the main focus turns to Thursday and the Europa League semifinal first leg in opposition to AS Roma. Solskjaer has stated greater than as soon as that leads to the league are a greater measure of progress however will know that profitable the primary trophy of his reign would put a distinct spin on the season, significantly if it is mixed with ending second. For every week or so the problem of bridging the hole with Metropolis can wait.

“We have now targeted on the sport. After all it was a tough week,” Solskjaer stated. “I’m actually proud of the boys’ focus, they’ve such a willpower to complete the season robust. The Europa League disappointment [last season] nonetheless sticks of their minds and hearts. We’re targeted on Roma and Liverpool in between.”



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