Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: EPL Table 'Not the Biggest Concern' for Manchester United

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistDecember 2, 2019

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 01: A dejected Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the head coach / manager of Manchester United walks off at full time during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Aston Villa at Old Trafford on December 1, 2019 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)
Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said he is not focused on the Premier League table after his side were held to a 2-2 draw by Aston Villa on Sunday. 

The draw left United in ninth place on 18 points, eight points behind fourth-place Chelsea:

Premier League @premierleague

Following another dramatic #PL weekend... https://t.co/LeUZakUrTP

Per the Daily Mail's Chris Wheeler, Solskjaer said:

"The league table at this point is not the biggest concern because it is so tight. I wouldn't have sat here and talked about us being fifth if we had got that one goal extra.

"I just need to make sure that we get three or four performances after each other—and results.

"What I can say is 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."

Jack Grealish gave Villa the lead with a sensational effort in the 11th minute.

United turned things around after Marcus Rashford's header went in via the post and goalkeeper Tom Heaton and another header from Victor Lindelof, but Tyrone Mings equalised two minutes later:

Football writer Dale O'Donnell took issue with Solskjaer's comments on the Red Devils' position after the match:

Dale O'Donnell @ODonnellDale

Solskjaer must be concerned with United’s league position. His comments don’t add up to the club values he boasted over a year ago when he first took over as caretaker manager. A good run of form looks a million miles away and a top four finish seems doubtful.

The Norwegian does have a point in terms of the table being so tight—just six points separates Tottenham Hotspur in fifth from Everton, who sit in 17th.

However, it should be a concern for United that they're already eight points off the top four and 22 behind leaders Liverpool.

Solskjaer replaced Jose Mourinho in December last year on an interim basis. He was appointed permanently on March 28 after winning 10 of his first 13 Premier League games, but United have won just six league matches since then.

As Sky Sports' Adam Bate observed, his start this season doesn't even compare well with Mourinho's in the last campaign:

Adam Bate @ghostgoal

Manchester United sacked José Mourinho last December having picked up 26 points from 17 games. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs to win the next three (Spurs, City & Everton) to better that total after the club spent big in the summer. Quite the feat to convince anyone this is progress.

Solskjaer is managing a young team—only three of their outfield players on Sunday were aged 26 or older and six were under 24—but they're capable of more than they've shown under him, and they should have been able to win more than four of 14 games.

Those above him at the club bear plenty of responsibility, too. Summer signings Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka have been two positive arrivals in defence, but the team's midfield and forward areas can only count the addition of Daniel James during the transfer window.

Alexis Sanchez, Romelu Lukaku, Ander Herrera and Marouane Fellaini were all allowed to leave the club this year.

United may be able to rectify that situation somewhat in January, but they still have six league games to play until the window opens, not including their trip to Arsenal on New Year's Day. If Solskjaer isn't able to turn their form around in the meantime, even some excellent recruitment may not be able to salvage their campaign.