Ole Gunnar Solskjaer claims his current Manchester United side is a “different group” to the one that suffered a heavy defeat away to Everton last season, as they prepare to face the Merseyside outfit once again.
The Toffees thrashed the Red Devils 4-0 at Goodison Park in their last meeting on April 21, which marked the lowest point of Solskjaer’s tenure to date.
The result ended United’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League and piled pressure on the Norwegian, who was handed the permanent manager’s job at the end of March.
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Old Trafford chiefs opted to keep faith with Solskjaer despite a sixth-place Premier League finish, but his struggles have persisted at the start of the 2019-20 campaign.
United are five points adrift of the top four after 16 fixtures, despite having strengthened in the summer window by bringing in Harry Maguire, Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
Signs of improvement have been shown recently, however, with 2-1 wins over Tottenham and Manchester City in the space of three days lifting the mood around the club and silencing speculation over Solskjaer’s future.
A 4-0 home win over AZ Alkmaar in the Europa League on Thursday extended United’s winning run, with Everton now due to arrive at the Theatre of Dreams on Sunday.
Solskjaer feels his squad has taken great strides forwards since their shocking loss to the Toffees last term, as he told a press conference on Friday: “We lost quite clearly against Everton last season.
“We’ve spoken enough about what happened that day and how we looked like a team. It was more or less a shambles, but I’ve said too many times this year as well, we’re not that group anymore.
“This is a different group, a group that’s ready for the fight and is ready for the football. Mentality sometimes is strange to explain. The mood is the camp is different, definitely.
“The group is going in the right direction now. They’ve got a chance every single day in training. There won’t be any leeway.
“You don’t play here if you don’t want to go in the same direction as the majority of the group or the whole group. If you’re the one or two odd men out, you’d probably know.”
When asked if United’s chances of finishing in the top four no longer sound ridiculous, Solskjaer responded defiantly: “It’s never been ridiculous! It’s never ridiculous in October or November. This club has never ever won the league by then.
“We’re not talking about winning the league now, but I’ve said all along this group needs time. We need to develop as a group and a team – and we are going to because they have the right attitude.
“I don’t think about it in December, not at all. There are too many games in December, January, February, March, April. You can’t start looking at the result and outcome.
“We just need to keep doing what we’re doing, keep developing this team, keep sticking to what we believe in, improving day by day. I believe then that the results will come.”
After facing off against the Toffees, United will prepare for a Carabao Cup quarter-final clash at home to Colchester United on Wednesday.