Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hailed a "fantastic" winning goal from Paul Pogba at Fulham but refused to be drawn on Manchester United's chances of winning the Premier League.

United returned to the top of the table with a 2-1 victory at Craven Cottage after Manchester City briefly moved to the summit a 2-0 win over Aston Villa earlier on Wednesday.

Ademola Lookman capitalised on poor United defending to give Fulham an early lead, but Edinson Cavani equalised in the first half and Pogba won it with a stunning left-foot strike after 65 minutes.

The Red Devils are unbeaten in 17 away games in the top flight, matching their longest ever run set back in 1999, and lead City by two points, although their neighbours have a game in hand.

United again showed their character to mount a fightback and have won seven Premier League games this season after going behind.

Solskjaer told BT Sport: "I think we started slow but after their goal I felt we played well. We needed to wake up and after that we played really well.

"We don't do offsides really, we should follow the run. We had not woken up but good reaction."

Pogba has scored the winner in two of United's last three games after coming in from the cold and Solskjaer is pleased with the progress the France midfielder has made.

"It was a fantastic goal by Paul and we had some other chances to finish the game but of course when it is just one goal and the players they put on it is going to be like heart in your mouth," said the United boss.

"He [Pogba] has really come on. He is fit, he can play in midfield and he can play wide. That is key with Paul, getting him match fit and running fit and he is at the moment. He played very well."

It is now 13 Premier League games without defeat for United, but Solskjaer again fended off talk of a title challenge.

The former United and Norway striker said: "It is always going to be talked about that when you are halfway through and top of the league.

"But we are not thinking about this, we just have to go one game at a time. It is such an unpredictable season."

Paul Pogba will continue to play with a smile on his face as long as Manchester United keep winning, he explained after another decisive Premier League strike.

United reclaimed top spot with a 2-1 victory at Fulham on Wednesday, moving back ahead of Leicester City and Manchester City after their wins over Chelsea and Aston Villa respectively.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men triumphed having conceded first away from home for the seventh time in seven attempts this term with Pogba striking the winner after Edinson Cavani had cancelled out Ademola Lookman's early opener.

Pogba's effort was a fine left-footed blast from outside the area, his first league effort with his weaker foot from this range since January 2015 when he was still at Juventus.

It was a goal the midfielder revelled in, as he told BT Sport: "I hit it well. I didn't expect the left foot would be like this, but we try.

"If you don't shoot, you don't know what's going to happen. I'm really glad that the ball went in. It was a beautiful goal and a beautiful victory - that's the most important."

That strike marked the second time this month Pogba has fired United to victory, also netting the only goal at Burnley.

Yet he has also missed big chances - opportunities Opta would expect him to score - against Aston Villa and Liverpool since the start of 2021, with a wasteful attempt at Anfield on Sunday costing United two points.

Explaining his emotions after responding with a big goal, Pogba said: "It's not like I apologised, but I was really mad; I was really mad that I was close to the goal and maybe I should have done better.

"Today it went in so I'm really happy for that. The most important is that we had the win today, because it was a hard one, a very mature one.

"We had to defend and we knew it would be like this. We knew it and we've done it the hard way, the beautiful way. It's beautiful to win like that."

The broadcaster suggested Pogba, maligned for much of his United career, looked to be enjoying himself on the pitch in an all-action display that included more passes (80) and more passes in the opposition half (56) than any other player while leading the Red Devils in tackles (four), interceptions (three) and possession gains (nine).

"I love winning," he replied. "It's all about winning. I will always be happy when I win and I will always be happy when I'm on the pitch.

"Today we won, so I'm happy; the day we lose, I will be angry again. This is me."

And United cannot afford any slip-ups, with City, who have played a game fewer, and Leicester just two points back.

"We just know that we have to get our result. We knew we had to win and that's it," Pogba said.

"It's the Premier League, so you know it's always hard. It will never be easy. These are big teams as well, very close on points, so we have to do us. That's it."

Paul Pogba's sensational strike sent Manchester United back to the top of the Premier League as a 2-1 victory at Fulham extended their unbeaten away run to a record-equalling 17 matches.

United had slipped below both Leicester City and rivals Manchester City in the prior 24 hours but had a response at Craven Cottage despite trailing again to Ademola Lookman's early effort on Wednesday.

It was the seventh time Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side had conceded first on the road in the league this season, yet goals from Edinson Cavani and, in spectacular fashion, Pogba ensured this encounter ended in the same fashion as the previous six with a United win.

The Red Devils have not lost a league fixture away from Old Trafford in more than a year and their 17-game streak now matches the club's Premier League benchmark, set in 1999 when Solskjaer was a player under Alex Ferguson.

That sequence stretched across consecutive title-winning campaigns and United will hope to be celebrating again come May, although they were given another scare by Fulham with just five minutes on the clock.

Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa's pass exploited a gaping hole in the visiting defence to find Lookman onside and in the clear, able to steady himself before finishing beyond David de Gea.

But Bruno Fernandes led the United response. They kept their attack alive after his left-footed shot bounced back out off the post and the midfielder's low cross was spilled by Alphonse Areola for Cavani to prod in.

Areola was rather more impressive in turning away another Fernandes effort moments later but was not worked again before half-time and Lookman might have restored Fulham's lead at the start of the second period, only to this time shoot straight at De Gea.

It was a squandered opportunity that proved costly as Pogba produced his moment of magic, cutting inside from the right and arrowing a left-footed drive across Areola into the far corner.

Areola again followed the goal with a super stop, denying Cavani from close range, but De Gea also had to be alert to block from Ruben Loftus-Cheek and protect the points for United.

Former Manchester United captain Bryan Robson would like to see Jack Grealish make a move to Old Trafford.

Aston Villa star Grealish has been linked with the Red Devils in the past 18 months but there has yet to be a concerted effort to sign him.

However, with the future of Paul Pogba unclear beyond this season, talk has again emerged that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could look to Grealish as a possible replacement for the France star.

The England international has created a competition-high 55 goalscoring chances in the Premier League in 2020-21 from only 15 appearances.

The 25-year-old has become integral to Villa's improved performances this term, making 11 per cent of all of their passes and drawing 73 fouls, the most of any player in the division.

Former skipper Robson, twice a league champion with United, thinks Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would be making a smart move if he added Grealish to his squad.

"It was a good decision giving [Jack Grealish] the [Aston Villa] captaincy," he told Stats Perform. "I think it's made him a bit more mature.

"He's a powerful player. He's quite a strong boy and he's quick and the way he can sort of go either way past people, he's always going to be a danger and that's why he gets so many free-kicks. Him and Villa have been terrific this season.

"He's been linked with us but those decisions, thank goodness, are with Ole and the board of directors. I wouldn't mind seeing Jack Grealish in a Manchester United shirt. I don't know whether the staff at Old Trafford fancy him, much as you'd like to see him play for your club."

United face Fulham on Wednesday looking for a win that would take them back to the top of the Premier League.

Grealish and Villa are in action away to in-form Manchester City.

Edinson Cavani has urged Manchester United to not let arrogance creep into their game as they look to mount their first title challenge since Alex Ferguson's departure.

United retained their place at the top of the Premier League table with Sunday's 0-0 draw at Liverpool, with this the furthest into the season that they have been at the summit since winning the title in 2012-13.

Leicester City's win over Chelsea on Tuesday momentarily put the Foxes in first place, but United know they will go straight back above them with a victory at struggling Fulham on Wednesday.

United are on a remarkable run away from home in the Premier League – avoiding defeat on Wednesday will see them equal a club-record 17 games unbeaten on the road in the top flight, equalling the feat achieved by Ferguson's treble-winning side in 1998-99.

But while the odds will be stacked against Fulham, who are 18th in the table, Cavani had a few words of caution for United ahead of the trip to Craven Cottage.

"I believe that one of the most important things that we need to be aware of whenever we go into any game is that we are Manchester United, and, irrespective of whether we are top of the league or in any other position, every other team that plays against Manchester United tries to do their absolute best to try to beat them," he told United Review.

"It was also a similar situation for me when I was at PSG. Teams try to do the impossible to get a victory against one of the most legendary and best teams in the world. So ensuring we are focused and concentrated on this should give us the energy to want to fight for this badge and be top of the league, fighting to stay right where we are.

"For all that, we need to be ready and mentally prepared to compete. Like I always say, the important thing isn't just winning a couple of games, it's having that consistency of always competing; competing in every game and for every ball, and concentrating to the absolute maximum for every situation that comes up in the game. And that's what, in the end, allows you to achieve your ultimate goal.

"Fulham will know very well that they have Manchester United coming up next, and they'll be going all out to try to beat us, like they have done in the past and just like what we've seen with other teams like Burnley, who always give their utmost.

"So we need to be aware that it's going to be a tough game and that we have to be 100 per cent focused in order to take care of all the details so we can try to win the game in order to [return to the top of the table]." 

Manchester United's 0-0 draw away to Liverpool on Sunday left Ole Gunnar Solskjaer "disappointed", the Norwegian adamant they did enough to end the Reds' remarkable long-standing unbeaten home run.

But there were two silver linings; firstly, United remained top of the Premier League, and secondly, the point preserved their own exceptional streak without a defeat.

It ensured United's run without a loss away from home in the Premier League would surpass a full year, having last suffered a domestic defeat on the road at Anfield on January 19, 2020.

Liverpool's win on that occasion took them 30 points clear of United in the table, but the obvious gulf between the two last season has not carried into 2020-21.

United are away from home again on Wednesday as they go to Fulham, and avoiding defeat again will see them equal a club record.

EMULATING THE TREBLE WINNERS

The last United team to go 17 away games unbeaten in the Premier League was Alex Ferguson's famous treble-winning side in 1998-99.

United's run started on December 5 and lasted until the following September, therefore playing a major role in the Red Devils securing the Premier League title ahead of Arsenal, pipping Arsene Wenger's men to the crown by a point.

They scored 34 goals and claimed nine wins in those 17 games and conceded 16.

Should United avoid defeat to Fulham, statistically they appear set to improve of the 1998-99 team's run, as the current crop have already scored 36, conceded just 13 and won 12.

But even if they ultimately fall at the final hurdle at Craven Cottage, they are safe in the knowledge that no other post-Ferguson United side registers in the top seven for the club's all-time top-flight unbeaten away runs.

Whether or not this run would have occurred if fans were in the stadiums is another matter, but it's unquestionable that progress is being made at Old Trafford - or, you know, away from Old Trafford...

RESILIENT REDS

A key factor in United's impressive run has been the character and resilience shown by them.

They have rescued 18 points from losing positions on the road in 2020-21, which is already a record for a single Premier League season, bettering the 17 accumulating by Aston Villa (1993-94) and Newcastle United (2001-02). The previous best posted by United was 16 in 2002-03.

Certainly the pick of United's away comebacks this season was the 3-2 win at Southampton on November 29, as they fell 2-0 down before Edinson Cavani inspired a brilliant turnaround with two goals and an assist off the bench.

A WAYS TO GO

As laudable as United's current away form is, they are still some way off matching the Premier League's all-time record, however.

Arsenal's 'Invincibles' hold that honour, having gone 27 matches unbeaten away from home in the top flight.

That stretched from April 2003 to September 2004, spanning well over a full season as they comfortably beat the 23-game record they themselves set between August 2001 and September 2002.

The closest any team has got to either streak is Liverpool, who between January 2019 and February 2020 went 21 away games without defeat before they suffered a shock 3-0 loss at Watford.

Could Harry Kane land in Paris?

With Kylian Mbappe tipped to join Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly eyeing replacements.

Mauricio Pochettino has a familiar face in mind…

 

TOP STORY – POCH WANTS KANE IF MBAPPE LEAVES

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino wants to sign Tottenham striker Harry Kane, according to El Chiringuito de Jugones.

That is if PSG star Kylian Mbappe leaves the Ligue 1 champions for LaLiga holders Real Madrid.

Pochettino coached Kane for five years at Tottenham before he was sacked by Spurs in November 2019.

 

ROUND-UP

- Sky Sport Germany claims Bayern Munich star David Alaba will not decide on his future until he has spoken to Barcelona. Marca reported that Madrid had struck a deal to sign Alaba on a free transfer at the end of the season. However, Alaba is reportedly holding out for Barca as the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United and PSG try to lure the Austria international.

Martin Odegaard has asked to leave Madrid on loan due to his lack of game time, reports Marca and Diario AS.

Romelu Lukaku has no intention of leaving Inter for City, says Express Sport. Lukaku spent two years at United before moving to Italy in 2019. Pep Guardiola's City have also been linked with Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland amid doubts over Sergio Aguero's future.

- Mundo Deportivo claims Manchester City defender Eric Garcia could join Barca this month or at the end of the season.

Milan are eyeing Barca's Junior Firpo on loan, while Serie A rivals Napoli are also interested, according to Calciomercato.

- Eurosport reports Tottenham are looking to prise Danny Ings away from Southampton. Ings is reportedly stalling on a new contract as he eyes a Champions League club.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insisted the Premier League giants only sign players that fit the club's long-term strategy amid ongoing transfer links.

With the January transfer window open, United have once again been linked to Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, Bayern Munich's soon-to-be free agent David Alaba and Lens defender Facundo Medina among others.

During the previous window, United signed 33-year-old forward Edinson Cavani, Donny van de Beek, Alex Telles, Facundo Pellistri and teenage sensation Amad Diallo – who arrived from Atalanta this month.

As United eye their first Premier League title since 2012-13, Solskjaer discussed the club's transfer plans.

"Whenever you get the chance to speak to players or learn about their personalities, what you get through a chat when you've been put together, that is very important," Solskjaer said ahead of Wednesday's trip to Fulham.

"And of course, we've been here, we know where we want to get to at Manchester United. Do you want to be part of bringing us back to the successful times - that's always been one of the topics that we've discussed.

"We're not here for a quick fix, we have players who have a long-term role to play. Even if it's, say Edinson [Cavani] coming in at the age of 33, he still has a part-long term by who he is, and how he comes in and what he does to the club and to the players."

United are second in the Premier League but can reclaim their two-point lead atop the table with victory at Fulham midweek.

Solskjaer's United are unbeaten in their last 16 Premier League away games. In their top-flight history, they have only once gone longer without defeat on the road – 17 matches between December 1998-September 1999.

Luke Shaw has played a key role for United following his man-of-the-match display in Sunday's 0-0 draw against defending champions Liverpool at Anfield.

Form and fitness have hampered Shaw since his big-money arrival from Southampton in 2014, but the 25-year-old full-back is returning to his consistent best.

"Luke has immense quality," Solskjaer said. "He has a very good technique, good quality. You see against Liverpool, he takes the ball and drives forward, that is something that I have pushed him more to do because we know he can do it.

"It is generally down to the boy himself, mentally he is very good at the moment, he has become a dad. He is physically very good, his fitness is so much better and he keeps beating his high-intensity stats and his total distance stats. He has been consistently up there with what a full-back should be doing.

"When you have the talent of Luke, when that fitness and the mental bit is sorted then you are always going to get good performances."

United are the only side without an away defeat in the Premier League this season (W7 D2), while the Red Devils have picked up the most points (23) and scored the most goals (22) on the road in the competition this term.

The Manchester team are unbeaten in their last eight Premier League games against promoted sides (W6 D2), scoring 25 goals in those games since a 2-0 loss to Cardiff City in May 2019.

Meanwhile, of all clubs to have played more than two Premier League games on Wednesdays, United have the highest win rate (62 per cent - 70/113).

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Manchester United's rapid climb up the Premier League table has shown why the Old Trafford board stuck with him.

United will go top of the standings again if they beat Fulham on Wednesday, in the game that will see the Red Devils reach the 19-game halfway mark in the 2020-21 campaign.

Despite relinquishing top spot to Leicester City after the Foxes beat Chelsea on Tuesday, United have played one fewer game and can go two points clear of Brendan Rodgers' men.

The transformation in United's Premier League fortunes has been astounding since early November, with a 3-1 win at Everton coming at a time when Solskjaer was looking on rocky ground.

Although a Champions League exit in December was a jolt, on the domestic front they have taken 30 points from the last 36 available in the Premier League to hurtle up the table, and United have been rewarded for the faith they have shown the manager.

They had stood a lowly 15th after six games, with only seven points, and Solskjaer said on Tuesday: "Hopefully I have proven that I can help the club going forwards.

"Personally I have felt very strong backing and leadership from the club, which has made the journey that we've been on - ups and downs - clear.

"The position we are in now is due to loads of hard work by everyone. We are halfway through the season and we are up there."

Solskjaer, given his 11-year playing career with United, knows that sustained excellence is demanded at the club, and he accepts that the hard work is just beginning.

United have shown they can hit a hot streak and barrel their way up the league, but now comes the challenge of showing they belong in the upper reaches.

The size of the club is not in doubt, but the team have only exceeded 70 points once in a Premier League season since Alex Ferguson left almost eight years ago.

"It is not about getting there once," said Solskjaer, whose United have not won the Premier League since 2012-13. "That is the easy bit, to go up the league.

"Staying there is the challenge and that is the challenge we are looking forward to - focusing on every game and building this squad and hope that in the end we can lift the trophy. That is when you can talk about moving the team where it should be."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Amad Diallo has made a "quite remarkable" impact in training and could be given his Manchester United debut soon.

The 18-year-old completed his move to United from Atalanta, which was originally agreed in October, this month.

Diallo did not start a competitive game for Atalanta, only making a handful of substitute appearances.

But Solskjaer has been impressed by how the winger has adapted so far and suggested he could be on the pitch for the first team within a month.

Solskjaer has previously praised Diallo's training performances and went even further ahead of Wednesday's game with Fulham.

"Very good [first impression]," Solskjaer said about Diallo.

"He can handle the ball, he has enjoyed training, makes a difference in training, which is quite remarkable at his age.

"Some adjustment to settle into the hustle and bustle of the Premier League but I can't see it's too long until he’s in the squad."

Asked if it might be four or five weeks until his debut, Solskjaer added: "It might be quicker than that, he has definitely settled down well.

"Players have taken to him, he is a good character, polite, smiley boy who works really hard.

"He is doing his sessions, getting used to us, there is always a period of adjustment needed but he is settling in well."

United boss Solskjaer expects one or two more players to depart before the January transfer window concludes.

He said: "I don't want to go into individuals but we can probably allow one or two more to go out.

"But the strength we have is we have a deep squad, strength in depth, we don't want to give our advantage away by easing off on our players, I can't give you a better answer than that."

Defenders Brandon Williams and Phil Jones were the only players who did not train ahead of the Fulham clash.

Solskjaer added United were still waiting for their latest batch of coronavirus results 30 hours after undergoing tests and hoped to receive them soon.

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has no concerns over Bruno Fernandes' form or fitness ahead of the clash with Fulham.

Fernandes has not registered a goal or an assist in his last three appearances for the Premier League leaders.

He showed his frustration when being substituted late in Sunday's 0-0 draw against champions Liverpool at Anfield.

Much has been made of United's reliance on Fernandes and how much of a risk it would be to rest him.

And Solskjaer has no plans to do that ahead of the away game with Fulham on Wednesday, having launched a staunch defence of the Portugal international's recent displays.

"His form is very good, he was just voted [Premier League] Player of the Month," Solskjaer said about Fernandes.

"He is not tired, no, no chance. 

"He is one of the players that runs and covers the ground every single game, very good at recovering, very good at recharging his batteries.

"If he scored his free-kick [against Liverpool], if it just had a little air on the ball when Luke [Shaw] put the cross in, he would have been lauded as best player in Premier League again.

"Since he came in, he's been absolutely immense. He is not tired and if I ask him he will say there is no chance he is tired."

Fernandes only completed 11 of his 20 passes in the Liverpool half on Sunday and crafted a solitary chance, but Solskjaer believes such performances come with the territory when a player shoulders so much of a team's creative burden.

"He is expected to create goals, score goals and sometimes the margins are against him," he said. "That free-kick, thought that was in, some passes he plays are marginal, on or offside.

"So he's always on the verge of creating something even when he loses the ball.

"That's the position I want him in and what he's been told to do, he has to be the creative one. I want him to play the passes he sees."

United are unbeaten in their past 11 league games against Fulham and have scored 29 goals in the process.

The have also not lost any of their previous eight Premier League matches against promoted sides, winning six of them.

But Solskjaer is wary of a team who have improved since a miserable start to the season, drawing with Liverpool and Tottenham recently as well as running Chelsea close with 10 men.

"I think they have had a good turnaround from a slow start," he said.

"They have made some very good signings towards the end of the window and they are very well coached. 

"Scott [Parker] and the team trust their own organisation, team shape, and it is one of the hardest teams to break down.

"It's hard enough to go to Craven Cottage anyway but at the moment they are really well structured on and off the ball, quick strong players defensively and players that can make the difference."

United are the only side without an away defeat in the Premier League so far this season, having won seven of their nine games. 

Solskjaer's men have the most points (23) and have scored the most goals (22) on the road in the top flight this term.

Thiago Alcantara does not play the "Liverpool way" and they should be cautious about how influential he becomes, according to former Reds midfielder Dietmar Hamann.

Liverpool signed Thiago in September in a deal that is not expected to cost them more than £25million even when add-ons are factored in.

It was seen as a real coup for the club such were the talents he had displayed during his time at Bayern, with many of the opinion he was the missing piece of the puzzle for Jurgen Klopp's Reds as they had been lacking the sort of midfielder capable of dictating the team's tempo.

Injury has restricted him to just five Premier League appearances since the move, the latest of which was in Sunday's 0-0 draw with Manchester United.

In that match Thiago showed flashes of his class, with his dribbling abilities standing out several times, while he also had more touches (122), attempted passes (96) and completed passes (83) than anyone else on the pitch.

But Hamann is not convinced Thiago is the sort of player Liverpool need in their midfield, suggesting the Spaniard likes to take control and slow the play down whereas the Reds have been at their best in recent years when utilising a quick tempo established by hardworking players rather than technical playmakers.

"Liverpool in the past have had hard-working midfielders, they were not as skilful as Thiago, but they gave the ball to [Sadio] Mane and [Mohamed] Salah early," Hamann explained to talkSPORT.

"If you get the ball early on the wing, and these guys can run at players they are very hard to stop.

"I just feel with Thiago, everyone was raving about him coming to Liverpool – he's hardly played. He came on against Chelsea and had the most passes in the second half, against a Chelsea team that was down to 10 men.

"He came on against Newcastle in the last 25 minutes, Newcastle were dead on their feet, everyone was raving about how good he is.

"I can tell you, he's a good player, a skilful player. But there was never a time in Munich where people said, 'oh he's the first on the team sheet'. So, I'd be very cautious when it comes to Thiago.

"And the other thing is, as other people alluded to earlier, he plays a different style of football. He likes to be in possession.

"Liverpool were always good when they weren't in possession, won it and played quickly forward.

"He's not that type of player, so it will be very interesting when he does play more often now how it's going to change the dynamics of the team."

Although Thiago looked bright, Liverpool's front three – particularly Mane and Salah – were quiet against United, with neither able to consistently get the better of the visitors' full-backs Aaron Wan-Bissaka or Luke Shaw, lending credence to Hamann's concerns.

However, Mane, Salah and Roberto Firmino all produced two key passes each and Thiago did prove rather effective without the ball, despite Hamann's claims to the contrary.

His three tackles were matched by only Georginio Wijnaldum among Liverpool players, while his six interceptions was the most of anyone on the pitch.

Paul Pogba is 20 per cent short of his physical peak and still has so much more to give Manchester United, says the club's former striker Louis Saha.

A revived Pogba has been crucial to United going on a 12-match unbeaten run in the Premier League.

He scored in last week's win over Burnley and earned praise from manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for playing in an unfamiliar right-wing role in Sunday's 0-0 draw against Liverpool.

That point against the champions at Anfield kept United top of the table, with this being the first time they have held that status at this stage of a season since Alex Ferguson's final campaign in charge.

"I still think he is got a good 20 per cent [more] to give to the team, fitness-wise," Saha told United's website about Pogba.

"He had to recover from COVID-19, he had to fight a lot to be back technically to where he can be.

"Tactically, now with the two sitting midfielders it allows him to bomb forward, whether he's on the left or the right.

"I think he's done really well to read the game better. He has to be a pain for the opposition. 

"Sitting too deep is not good for him, but sitting too high is not good either.

"He needs to have that drive to allow him to bombard and give us another option other than Bruno Fernandes. I think it's a good balance."

The draw with Liverpool was not always pretty, but Saha was encouraged by what he saw.

The two-time Premier League-winning Frenchman added: "You need to make sure you hang in there and are tough to beat, that is the main thing.

"You could see the spirit of the guys [on Sunday], the things that we want to see week in, week out.

"We know they have the talent and, when on song, they can do the magic, but this is the foundation that needs to come. Then you have all the confidence to express yourself.

"The lack of organisation before, the lack of confidence, maybe fitness, all this combined was the reason why we were not able to compete but I think it was a good response.

"If you look at how far we’ve come since Ole joined, you can see those players getting more and more direction – concrete decision-making – which is what made us very proud on Sunday I think."

Next up for United is an away game against Fulham on Wednesday.

Real Madrid have reportedly agreed a deal with Bayern Munich defender David Alaba.

With his contract expiring at the end of the season, Alaba, 28, has been linked with Europe's biggest clubs.

And the Austria international looks set for the Santiago Bernabeu.

 

TOP STORY – ALABA AGREES FOUR-YEAR DEAL WITH MADRID

Alaba has agreed a four-year deal with Real Madrid, according to Marca.

The Bayern defender will make the move to the LaLiga giants ahead of 2021-22, the report says.

Alaba was also linked to the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea.

ROUND-UP

- Staying at Real Madrid and the news is not so good when it comes to Lucas Vazquez. AS reports the midfielder has rejected the club's first contract offer, with his current deal expiring at the end of the season.

- Dele Alli is wanted by Paris Saint-Germain. The Sun reports the Tottenham midfielder is confident of getting a loan move to the Ligue 1 giants in January.

- Jesse Lingard's future at Manchester United is uncertain. ESPN reports the midfielder wants regular game time but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is eager to keep him at the Premier League club. Lingard has made just three appearances in all competitions this season.

- After leaving the club in 2017, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar looks set to return to Schalke. SPORT1 reports the Ajax striker has undergone a medical ahead of a return to Schalke, who are bidding to avoid relegation from the Bundesliga.

Marcus Rashford still has 5-10 per cent improvement to make as he approaches the prime of his career, according to former Manchester United and England captain Bryan Robson.

Rashford made it five games without a goal in 2021 as Premier League leaders United played out a goalless draw with champions Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday.

Nevertheless, the England forward is enjoying a productive season with 14 goals and six assists in all competitions.

The 23-year-old has only bettered that goal tally once across the course of an entire campaign, with 22 last term bolstered by six conversions from eight Premier League penalties - duties that now lie with Bruno Fernandes.

He netted one spot kick in the 4-1 Champions League win over Istanbul Basaksehir this time around and his 12 open-play goals in Europe's elite competition and the Premier League came from shots with a cumulative xG value of eight - highlighting some impressive efficiency in front of goal.

"Marcus is getting to an age where he’s maturing and will come to his prime soon," Robson told Stats Perform News.

"I think he’s really improved over the last two years. He's worked really hard on his physique and fitness. But I do believe there’s another 5-10 percent in Marcus.

"When things get easy for him in games he becomes a little bit lazy on the ball and gives it away more than he should.

"But that’s probably because we know he can create with a great pass, and sometimes when you're that little bit younger you don't have that real strong mentality to go further.

"I think he can go on to be a great player for Man United and England."

Although Anthony Martial opened the scoring in the 2-1 New Year's Day victory over Aston Villa, Rashford's fellow forward has found the going tougher in front of goal overall this season.

The France international has five goals in 22 games, with just two in 14 in the Premier League.

Robson believes the 25-year-old can sometimes struggle for confidence, while also highlighting his heavy workload as United's 2019-20 schedule ran on until the Europa League semi-final defeat to Sevilla in August.

"It was a long season for a few of the lads," he said. "It took a few of them quite a time to get going, they had no pre-season after Sevilla loss.

"I think it affected [Martial]. I don't think he's a totally confident lad.

"I think he needs encouraging, but I'm sure as the season goes on he just needs a run of games with a couple of goals."

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