Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has warned Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial they will have to continue improving to keep their places at Old Trafford.
Rashford and Martial have both scored 19 times this season — the best individual tallies of their careers — but Solskjaer insists their form will not stop United, linked with summer moves for Jadon Sancho and Jack Grealish, scouring the world for the best forwards.
“You need competition for places at Man United,” Solskjaer told a news conference via Zoom on Monday. “If you think you’ve got a divine right to be playing every game and are doing so well that we’re not going to look for players to replace you, you’re in the wrong place.
“I’ve been here myself for so many years as a striker and Teddy Sheringham comes in, Dwight Yorke comes in, Ruud van Nistelrooy comes in, Wayne Rooney comes in.
“We’ve always got to look at improving, and if they don’t improve, we might have to look somewhere else to get better because we have to be better. We’re too far away from where we need to be and want to be.”
Solskjaer’s decision to sell Romelu Lukaku to Inter Milan last summer and put his faith in Rashford and Martial was questioned by some supporters, but the pair have repaid the Norwegian and should ensure two forwards pass 20 goals in all competitions in the same season for the first time since Dimitar Berbatov and Javier Hernandez achieved the feat in 2010-11.
“Romelu is a very good goalscorer, he’ll score goals in any team that he plays in,” said Solskjaer. “It was time now for him to move on and pursue other dreams.
“For us as a group it was time to allow our forwards to feel that confidence and feel that demand of playing and being demanded to play every game, two, three, four games, five, six, seven games on the bounce and perform.”
Rashford and Martial are set to return to the starting XI for the trip to Brighton on Tuesday after they were named on the bench for the FA Cup quarterfinal victory over Norwich on Saturday.
The game at the Amex Stadium marks the start of what should be a kind run-in for United with five of their seven remaining games against teams in the bottom eight, but Solskjaer has warned his team against complacency with a place in the top four up for grabs.
“We have loads of games against teams who have lots to play for which is of course not an easy run-in,” said the United boss.
“Complacency, that kicks you somewhere you don’t want to get kicked in football, and any game is a difficult one and we’re playing against teams…Brighton, we’ve lost the last two when we’ve gone down there.
“We’ve got Bournemouth, who we’ve lost to. We’ve got Aston Villa, who we drew with at home. We’ve got Palace, who we lost to at home. We’ve got West Ham that we’ve lost to. We’ve got Leicester, which is a very good team. Every game is one we have a point to prove in.”