Manchester United’s Manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, has said that there will be “no excuses” if his team lose their fourth semi-final in 12 months.
The Red Devils will play Manchester City at Old Trafford Wednesday night in a rematch of last season’s Carabao Cup semi-final. Pep Guardiola’s men triumphed on their way to winning the trophy for a third successive year.
Solskjaer’s side also lost in an FA Cup semi-final to Chelsea and to Sevilla in the Europa League last four.
“We have developed a lot in the last 12 months from last season’s EFL Cup semi-final,” stressed Solskjaer.
“It is not just a case of learning how to win them, it is earning the right to go all the way. But we are confident and we are in good form. There are no excuses.”
United have won eight out of their last 10 Premier League games, a run that, following Liverpool’s surprise defeat at Southampton, means they will go top of the table if they avoid defeat at Burnley on 12 January.
Within that unbeaten run, there was a drab, goalless draw with City at Old Trafford. That game does form part of a decent record for Solskjaer in meetings with Guardiola.
In their six encounters, the Norwegian has come out on top on three occasions, opposed to two successes for the former Barcelona boss.
And, with suspended forward Edinson Cavani the only significant absentee, United are justified in fancying their chances, even if City go into the game on the back of their best performance of the season at Chelsea.
“You never know what kind of system Pep’s going to come up with but you know you’ve got to defend really well against City,” Solskjaer said.
“It’s hard to keep the ball in their half because they find a way of overloading, so you’ve got to be brave and compact and trust your players.”
Solskjaer is aware of the extra scrutiny top-flight football is now under given the new lockdown measures that have been imposed on virtually all members of society.
He says clubs have to accept the privileged position they are in and ensure there is no reason for the government to revisit it.
“It is a difficult situation for everyone,” he said. “It is hard.
“We are privileged to be able to play and hopefully we can continue. It is a release to watch games but we have to work hard to stay within the guidelines. We are doing our best to keep the show on the road.”