Manchester United: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer salutes fitness levels of his squad

By Simon StoneBBC Sport
Manchester United in training this month
Solskjaer's Manchester United have not lost since January

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says his Manchester United players are fitter than they have been for years.

Solskjaer put last season's finish, when they won two of their last 12 games and missed out on the Champions League, down to a lack of fitness.

The Norwegian, who replaced Jose Mourinho in December 2018, feels that hard work on the 2019 summer tour to Perth is now paying dividends.

"We are fit, very fit," said Solskjaer, whose team are currently in fifth spot.

The subject of fitness is one that was addressed in the first days of Solskjaer's first pre-season tour as United boss in Australia last summer.

"It was a big thing towards the end of last season, when we felt our team wasn't fit enough and we got a few injuries," he said.

"We've not had that kind of problem this season. Our lads have not felt as fit as this year."

United will need that fitness over the next 11 days as they cram in three Premier League games, starting with Thursday's trip to Crystal Palace, plus Sunday's FA Cup semi-final with Chelsea at Wembley.

Solskjaer is trying to win his first trophy as United manager but is aware Chelsea have two additional days preparation for the semi-final following Tuesday's victory against Norwich.

"Forty-eight hours is a big difference at this time [of the season] so we've not been handed four aces for the last two weeks," he said.

"But we're going to have to put on a poker face and play the cards well."

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