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'Fitter' Manchester United won't repeat last year's dip in form - Solskjaer

Manchester United canters past Derby County winning 3-0 at Pride Park. Watch the FA Cup on ESPN+.
Shaka Hislop points to Man United's nine-game unbeaten streak as a sign of progress for the club.

DERBY, England -- Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is confident there will be no repeat of last season's disastrous dip in form.

Victory over Derby in the FA Cup fifth round stretched United's unbeaten run to nine, their best sequence since going undefeated in Solskjaer's first 11 games as caretaker.

But despite a positive start under the Norwegian last season, United's form dipped towards the end of the campaign and they won just two of their final 12 games.

Solskjaer, though, is confident that will not happen again as his team chases a top-four finish in the Premier League and silverware in the FA Cup and the Europa League.

"They're fitter with a better mentality [than last season]," said Solskjaer after the 3-0 win at Pride Park. "They've had a winter break, we've added a few signings and we're getting players back. The whole squad is ready to go.

"I've got a big squad. [Last season] we had I don't know how many hamstring injuries because we weren't ready to do what we asked them to do."

United have hit form at the right time ahead of Manchester City's visit to Old Trafford on Sunday followed by a trip to LASK Linz in the Europa League and another to Tottenham three days later.

"It's just what happens in football at times," said Solskjaer. "We're defending well with clean sheets. That's massive for us. It's seven in nine and that's important. I've got good players and they're hitting form."

Solskjaer had loan signing Odion Ighalo to thank for securing a quarterfinal tie with Norwich after the Nigeria striker scored twice against Derby following Luke Shaw's opener.

Ighalo has got three goals in two starts since arriving from Shanghai Shenhua on deadline day and the United manager has been delighted with the 30-year-old's impact.

"He's doing what he says on the tin," said Solskjaer. "He's a different type of striker and he gets chances every game. Today he could have had another couple. I'm very happy with him.

"There's more to come. He'll improve and get sharper. No doubt he'll only get better and better."

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