Ahead of Manchester United’s 1-0 win away against Tottenham Hotspur, there was the presumption that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s success had come purely because the standard of the opposition was not strong. There was also the claim Solskjaer was benefiting from the players showing up after enjoying the freedom post-Jose Mourinho.
However, the win over Mauricio Pochettino’s team proves there’s lots more in Solskjaer’s locker than just telling the lads to go out and enjoy themselves.
Several players have talked in detail about the plan Solskjaer provided for them to work on during the week in Dubai and how that paid off to get us the win.
Marcus Rashford, who now has 10 goals and assists in his last nine league appearances, revealed the plan.
We did a lot of work in training on switching the play. It’s been a tough week in training but that was one of the things we’ve been working on. For it to come out in a game is good for us. We knew that against a team, as Tottenham defend, that the chances were going to come in between the full-backs and the centre-halves.
Pogba, whose excellent pass provided the assist for Rashford’s goal, was praised for his contribution but again highlighted what they had been told about Spurs’ defence.
It’s a great ball but we’ve been training on this. We knew it was a weakness of Tottenham’s when they were attacking on one side. We needed to get high and attack the opposite side.
Ander Herrera, who has looked great since Solskjaer was appointed, echoed this sentiment.
The manager told us that at the beginning of the game it would be difficult to make short passes. He told us that it would be easier for us to switch the play and to look – almost without looking – to the other side of the pitch to switch the ball, because that is where we were going to find spaces. We scored like that, so thank you to the game plan as well.
Solskjaer himself talked about the formation he chose, and the reason why, and was delighted that it worked.
We attacked quickly with pace. Obviously, the goal was fantastically taken by Rashford, but you know the defensive job Jesse did and the pass from Paul is half the goal. The goal is why I put Anthony and Rashford wide of Jesse because Jesse is more of a link player and he can drop in whereas Rash and Anthony are more direct towards goal and that is why we put that plan in place and it worked. We worked on it for a week and we have seen Spurs and we thought that was going to be a good plan and it is good that we have different ways of playing against different teams and I think that we showed that we are ready to compete, especially in the first half when I thought we were excellent. The second half we could have scored two or three ourselves so it wasn’t that one-sided even though they really did put us under pressure. I am happy. I said to the boys to be proud because they followed the plan to perfection in the first half. We thought they were going to come as they did and it worked a treat.