Pereira backed by boss Ole as crit­ics hit out

Manchester Evening News - - SPORT - By SA­MUEL LUCKHURST

OLE Gun­nar Sol­sk­jaer in­sists An­dreas Pereira is ‘im­prov­ing all the time’ amid crit­i­cism of his per­for­mances for United.

The mid­fielder started his 12th Pre­mier League game of the season against As­ton Villa and was cul­pa­ble for Jack Gre­al­ish’s su­perb opener as the Reds dropped more points in a 2-2 draw.

Some United match­go­ers vented their dis­may at Pereira be­fore he as­sisted Mar­cus Rash­ford to force in the equaliser, even­tu­ally cred­ited as an own goal from Tom Heaton.

Sol­sk­jaer has pri­mar­ily played

Pereira as a play­maker or on the right wing this term but in­juries to Scott McTom­i­nay, Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic have left him with a cen­tral mid­field short­age.

United sold Marouane Fel­laini to Shan­dong Luneng in Fe­bru­ary and An­der Her­rera left on a free for Paris Saint-Ger­main in the sum­mer. Nei­ther have been re­placed.

Though Sol­sk­jaer was pos­i­tive about Pereira, he ad­mit­ted he was hav­ing to cover for more ex­pe­ri­enced op­tions.

“An­dreas is im­prov­ing all the time,” Sol­sk­jaer said. “He’s a young boy work­ing hard ev­ery sin­gle day to im­prove his game and he’s played a few games this year. We found, more or less, his po­si­tion. He’s an at­tack­ing mid­fielder.

“Of course, when you lack your three more ex­pe­ri­enced ones with Nemanja, Paul and Scott, An­dreas has to cover that role and he’s do­ing a job for the team.”

United briefly led through Vic­tor Lin­de­lof ’s 64th-minute header be­fore Ty­rone Mings volleyed in to earn Villa a de­served draw.

The Reds have won just four of their 14 league fixtures this term and Sol­sk­jaer has a 48 per cent win ra­tio from his 50 matches in charge.

“First half, it seemed like we couldn’t get to grips with go­ing 1-0 down,” Sol­sk­jaer re­flected.

“But when you con­cede a goal as early as that at Old Traf­ford you’ve got plenty of time to get back into the game.

“But we didn’t deal with that par­tic­u­larly well and were lucky to go in at half-time one each.

“Se­cond half was good, we put pres­sure on them, cre­ated chances.

“Yeah, they had a de­cent chance with Gre­al­ish but we cre­ated loads of big ones and should have won this game.

“But over­all, we didn’t de­serve to. Es­pe­cially af­ter the first half.

“We are a young team, I don’t want to use that as an ex­cuse, be­cause we’re Man United and we want to get a run. As soon as we get a run of three or four games, that’s what these boys need, I feel.

“And we just have to make sure we do ev­ery­thing right now un­til Wed­nes­day, be­cause it’s a quick turn­around.”

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