Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Manchester United need to harness the spirit shown against Paris St Germain and put in a “perfect performance” if they are to navigate their way past Manchester City and reach the Carabao Cup final.
United face an uphill battle in their attempts to reach March’s Wembley showpiece after a chastening 3-1 home loss in the semi-final first leg against Pep Guardiola’s men three weeks ago.
Marcus Rashford’s goal in that Old Trafford encounter gives United a glimmer of hope heading to the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday, but Solskjaer is under no illusions about the task that awaits them.
Despite that, the Norwegian believes last year’s stunning comeback success against PSG – United won 3-1 in Paris to reach the Champions League quarter-finals on away goals, having lost 2-0 in the home leg – can act as inspiration, along with December’s impressive 2-1 triumph at City.
“Well, it looked like it was over at half-time,” Solskjaer said, reflecting on the first leg. “I have to say the second part of that first half, they outplayed us for a while and it’s hard.
“But then when we got the goal, of course you’re back in it, we hope for another one.
“But now we’ve got to go into the memory bank and think PSG because we’ve done it against good teams before and it gives us some hope, and the game in December of course gives us hope that we can do something there.
“It has to be a perfect performance to win with two goals against such a good team away from home, so for us it’s not about away goals, we just need to score two more than them.
“When they happen and how it happens, if we concede two we need to score four, so it would be good not to concede first because that makes it less difficult.”
Key men Paul Pogba, Scott McTominay and Rashford will be absent at the Etihad Stadium, where Nemanja Matic is a doubt after picking up a knock in Sunday’s 6-0 shellacking of Tranmere in the FA Cup fourth round.
That was the only mention of that match in the pre-City preview press conference, where there was plenty of transfer talk.
The PA news agency understands Sporting Lisbon midfielder Bruno Fernandes remains a target, while a number of enquiries have been made as United look at possible attacking options.
“I haven’t got any updates for you on transfers,” Solskjaer said with a laugh. “I think it was a waste (of a question) – I gave you the option (not to ask it)!
“I haven’t got anything to say now. My mind is just on the game.”
Alexis Sanchez would have been a welcome option at this point, despite his struggles since his high-profile switch from Arsenal in January 2018.
And despite not including a recall clause in his season-long loan deal to Inter Milan, Solskjaer expects him to have an Old Trafford future when he returns in the summer.
“We’ve got players here we’re working hard to get back as well and if there is something out there, then the club are pursuing that and looking at it,” the United boss said.
“Of course it is a difficult window. It always has been. I can’t remember how many good ones we’ve brought in, good deals that we’ve brought in in January.
“Henrik (Larsson) was good, Nemanja (Vidic) and Patrice (Evra) were two good ones.”
When Sanchez was mentioned, Solskjaer said: “It’s very hard because the clubs don’t want to lose their best players. Alexis will come back in the summer and prove youse all wrong.”
There continues to be talk about possible outgoings, with Marcos Rojo linked to former club Estudiantes having not played for two and a half months.
Asked if the Argentina defender could leave, Solskjaer said: “I wouldn’t think so. Marcos has been injured and has been working to get back and get fit again. At the moment it doesn’t look like it, no.”