Edinson Cavani may turn 34 next month but his work rate in matches and the humility he shows in training is an example to his team-mates, Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said on Tuesday.
The Uruguay forward has been a crucial part of United’s resurgence this season which sees them top the Premier league table.
Manchester City can overtake their city rivals later on Tuesday if they beat struggling West Brom — United next play on Wednesday when they host bottom club Sheffield United.
“When a striker of that age runs almost 12 kilometres (seven miles in a game), chases down the keeper, back-tackles midfielders, is a threat in the box, shows humility to come in every day to do his best, his experience and attitude has given every one of us a lesson,” the Norwegian said.
Solskjaer said Marcus Rashford would be fit to play against the Blades having “tweaked” his knee in Sunday’s FA Cup win over Liverpool.
However, unlike Chelsea who fired Frank Lampard on Monday after just 18 months in charge, the United board have kept faith with their former player.
He said he had been surprised by Lampard’s sacking but was keen to emphasise he and the United board had always had a long term vision for what he was doing.
“I’ve said it many a time, we looked at the squad, looked at the situation we were in and we put a longer term plan in place,” said Solskjaer, who has less than 18 months remaining on his contract.
“We knew there would be some patchy periods and that we would have to stay strong mentally but the leadership they have shown has been very strong and steady.
“I’m very grateful for the communication that has been open and honest all of the time.”
There is growing anticipation amongst pundits and fans of United winning their first league title since Alex Ferguson’s final season in 2013.
“We are not getting carried away. We have to get more consistency into our performances,” the 47-year-old said.
“The two teams at the top of the league for the last three seasons have been amazing (Man City and Liverpool).
“In any other season you would have won the league with 20 points less than they have won it with. This is the start of something but we want to keep improving.”