Following the huge disappointment of last weekend when Manchester United were thrashed 5-0 by Liverpool, there were plenty of people surprised that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer still had a job for Saturday’s game against Tottenham Hotspur.
The manager made adjustments to the formation that has struggled over recent weeks, starting Raphael Varane alongside Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof at the back. We reaped the rewards from those changes with a comfortable and convincing win away to Spurs.
They were excellent. In the first six or seven minutes we let them have too much of the ball but our experience came through. I was told that’s the oldest team I’ve picked for Man United. It was time for it. I’ve been here for more or less three years now as a manager and Tuesday’s training performance from Edinson Cavani was probably the best performance anyone has put in to a training session here. The old men led from the front. They [Cavani and Ronaldo] play well together. They have loads of respect for each other. We’ve got loads of talented players, so for them to learn from those two, they’ve got to learn as quick as they can. The work rate they put in, the quality they put in, is second to none.
There had been suggestions from some that maybe the players had downed tools, but it was put to Ole that the squad played for him today.
They’ll play for the club no matter what. This is not about me. It’s about us improving as a group together. If one of them don’t give everything to play for Man United, they won’t play. It’s as simple as that. You know your under pressure from day one when you walk in here. This past week has been a difficult one for the players, the fans haven’t been happy, but this is one game. It’s the next one now, Atalanta. For me, there are so many things out there, horrible things, that you have to look at yourself and be happy that you are where you are and have the responsibility that you have. You have to enjoy it. It would have been a different interview [if we hadn’t won] and a different atmosphere in the dressing room, but that’s football. When you win, everyone’s up, you feel good, but when you lose, you’re so down. But you’ve got to wake up the next morning and look forward to the next game. We need consistency. We need that type of performance again, and again, and again.
Solskjaer changed the formation for this game, with the hopes of being more solid at the back, and the manager says that’s exactly what we got.
Solidity. We got experience together, with Cristiano and Edi as a front two. We got more control. And we probably got a Man of the Match performance from Scott McTominay. I thought he was outstanding out there. For me, unplayable. I thought they all [the defence] played really well and they had the experience of Raphael Varane right in the middle.
Ronaldo scored the first and assisted the second, with a sublime finish and a perfect pass to set up Cavani. Solskjaer was full of praise for the Portuguese forward.
What a goal. What a man. Great pass from Bruno, if I’d scored that one I’d have said it was put on a plate. But the quality of the finish was great.