Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Manchester United’s dressing room is being “driven to success” by Bruno Fernandes, Edinson Cavani and Paul Pogba.
United sit top of the Premier League table on 40 points, six clear of defending champions Liverpool, who Solskjaer’s team face in the FA Cup fourth round on Sunday, seven days on from a 0-0 draw at Anfield.
Liverpool have been eliminated from the FA Cup by United more than they have any other opponent in the competition’s history, though the Red Devils have lost two of their past three against the Reds in the competition.
Integral to United’s recent success has been the form of Fernandes, who has scored 19 league goals and created a further 14 from 33 top-flight appearances since joining from Sporting CP last year.
Veteran campaigner Cavani, meanwhile, has netted five times in all competitions since arriving as a free agent in October, while United’s club-record signing Pogba has enjoyed a resurgence after a difficult start to the campaign, and scored a superb winner against Fulham last time out.
Buoyed by the performances of Fernandes, Cavani and Pogba, Solskjaer sees his squad having experienced a drastic shift in mentality, comparing the trio’s influence to that of his former United team-mates Roy Keane, Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs.
“I think that runs through the squad and that’s part of my thinking when you bring players in,” Solskjaer told a news conference.
“You don’t just bring big talents in, you research their character as much as you can to have the right types.
“Because there are always players who think ‘there’s a game next week and I’ll still get my wages’. That’s the mentality we had to get away from.
“I wanted players to come here to push the boundaries, the levels and drive it on from the inside. It can’t come just from the outside. With players like Bruno, Edinson and Paul Pogba, I feel I have a dressing room that is driven to success. That makes my job easier – 100 per cent.
68 – Since Bruno Fernandes’ Premier League debut for Man Utd in February 2020, the Red Devils have won at least six more points than any other side, with the Portuguese international having a hand in 33 of their 64 goals during this time (19 goals, 14 assists). Catalyst. #LIVMNU pic.twitter.com/MbatnEPH5P
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 17, 2021
“When you talk the talk, you have to walk the walk. We had players here when I played – Roy Keane, Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs – they drove it on.
“When they spoke you knew you had no leg to stand on to argue, because you knew that they did it every single day.
“That’s what we need from our players. Many of us in the game have been in dressing rooms where people talk – but you think what are you talking about?
“They talk the talk, but don’t really walk the walk. But the players we’re talking about – Pogba and Cavani and Bruno – they’ve been there, they know what it takes and they demand it off their team-mates.”
The omens are good for United ahead of Sunday’s encounter with their bitter rivals, who have reached the FA Cup fifth round only once during Jurgen Klopp’s tenure.
United are also unbeaten in their past seven home games against Liverpool in all competitions (W3 D4) since a 3-0 loss in March 2014. They last had a longer unbeaten run against the Reds at Old Trafford between 1990 and 2000 (12 games).