Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has called on his team to be “streetwise” as they gear up to host Barcelona for the first leg of a quarterfinal tie in the UEFA Champions League tonight.
In the previous round, United pulled off a miraculous comeback, recovering from a 0-2 defeat at home in the first leg against Paris Saint-Germain. The Red Devils triumphed 3-1 in the French capital to draw the tie 3-3 overall and advance on away goals.
Solskjaer believes his team learned a lot from their clashes against the Ligue 1 heavyweights.
“Some of these players will have some tricks up their sleeves, streetwise players. We’ve learned from that PSG game – the mood was a little bit different because they had won so many games,” said United’s Norwegian manager.
“But we’ve learned from that PSG game. Players have talked about it – how we got dragged into making fouls, how European football is. You’ve got to be more patient in tackles. I can feel the tension, excitement. At training today and yesterday, you can see players wanting to play.”
Solskjaer has backed Paul Pogba to have an important role in this quarterfinal tie: “It’s not about one player, everyone has to perform at their best level and at Paul’s best he can run a game like this and that’s what you expect from him: that he really puts his stamp on a game like this.
“Paul’s job is to be the creator, and when we win the ball that he drives forward, so I expect him to perform.”
Solskjaer reiterated the club’s stance that Pogba will not be leaving in the summer, reports having again linked him with Real Madrid: “He’s a Man United player. He’s one of our big performers and on a big stage.
“He knows the game against PSG was not his greatest moment. So he is only focused on playing well against Barcelona and I cannot see him not playing for Man United next season either.”