Diogo Dalot believes Manchester United face FOURTEEN finals as they try to salvage their hopes of playing Champions League football next season.
Despite a dramatic win at Villa Park on Sunday, sixth-placed United still trail Unai Emery’s side by five points and have a vastly inferior goal difference. Fourth-placed Tottenham are a further two points ahead.
And Dalot – one of Erik ten Hag’s outstanding performers in the 2-1 victory over Villa – says every remaining Premier League fixture is, more or less, make-or-break for United.
He said: “It was a really important win (at Villa). We knew that it was like a final for us – pretty much every game will be for us now if we want to get into the top four.”
Dalot has not always been an Old Trafford favourite but is enjoying one of the best spells of his United career and came in for special praise from his manager after the victory over Emery’s team.
“Everyone gets criticism,” said Ten Hag, “but he is a fantastic player who is developing very well. He can score and his defending is improving. He can play in so many positions and he is improving on crosses.”
Indeed, it was Dalot’s wonderful cross that set up United’s sensational late winner on Sunday but the Portuguese full-back preferred to heap praise on Scott McTominay for heading home the assist.
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“Every time he (McTominay) comes onto the pitch, he has that mentality of trying to score goals and trying to help the team,” said Dalot. “We need this type of mentality at this club, and I think he is the perfect person to show this season that even coming from the bench, he always has a good impact.”
But even though Ten Hag had to turn to McTominay to provide the winning moment, Dalot says there is a growing belief and confidence in United’s attackers, particularly Rasmus Hojlund, who has now scored in each of his last five Premier League games.
Dalot went on: “He has adapted to the team really well, and we have adapted to him really well. Hopefully, he can score a lot more goals. That’s what brings calm, and that’s what brings games and gives you more confidence.
Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
“When we start scoring goals, you can see how fresh they (the front three) are and how motivated they are, and we are very happy that they are scoring goals.”
After his team enjoyed long spells of pressure, Emery considered Villa to be unfortunate to lose the game but Dalot insisted United deserved the valuable victory.
He said: “We had a full week of concentration and everybody tuned into what we could expect. It was exactly how we prepared and how we tried to be. We fought until the end and we really deserved the three points.”
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