The Red Devils need to back up their strong performances and tighten up at the back, according to their English defender

Harry Maguire has highlighted the importance of regular clean sheets as Manchester United seek to establish a period of consistency under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The Red Devils have endured their worst start to a Premier League campaign in 33 years, slipping to seventh after 19 fixtures with just 28 points on the board.

Solskjaer’s men are in danger of missing out on Champions League qualification for a second successive season, but they did manage to bounce back from a disappointing 2-0 defeat at Watford last weekend by beating Newcastle 4-1 at Old Trafford on Boxing Day.

United showcased their attacking prowess once again and ran out comfortable winners thanks to an Anthony Martial double and goals from Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford.

Newcastle did, however, take an early lead in the contest, as Matty Longstaff took advantage of some sluggish defending from the hosts to fire past David de Gea.

United haven’t recorded a top-flight clean sheet since a 1-0 victory at home to Leicester on September 14, despite the presence of summer signing Maguire.

The England centre-back acknowledges that the Red Devils must continue working hard behind the scenes to solve a defensive conundrum, with it his belief that gradual improvements are already being made.

“We want to get back to clean sheets; we’re working hard to get clean sheets,” Maguire told reporters post-match.

“We’re not conceding many chances in many games, but it’s something that we’re going to work on. We’re going to improve.”

When asked if consistency will be needed for United to maintain a top-four push ahead of a meeting with Burnley at Turf Moor on Saturday, Maguire responded: “That’s the key. You’ve got to put performances together, put wins together.

“It’s really important that you go on runs in this league. We haven’t really found that consistency to put three, four, five wins together. It’s something that we need to work on.

“We’re a young group, we’re learning, [and] there are positives to take from today but now we’re focused on Saturday.”

Solskjaer will have less than 48 hours in total to prepare his squad for this weekend’s trip to Burnley, as a hectic festive period finally moves towards its conclusion.

Maguire is confident that United will be able to negotiate their way through a congested fixture list unscathed given how much importance was placed on fitness levels in pre-season.

“We’re a fit bunch. The boys worked tirelessly in pre-season and this is what it’s for,” he added. “We’re fully focused now on Saturday and that’s how it should be.

“It’s tough, there’s no doubt about it. A 90-minute game in the Premier League takes a lot out of you, but it’s the same for every team.

“There’ll be a few teams out there that will probably get that extra day’s rest. But Burnley have played today as well, so we’ve got to make sure our mentality is right going in to the game.”