Manchester United Interim Boss Solskjaer Passes First Major Test!

Manchester United suffered from a few nervy moments as they held on to beat Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 at Wembley this evening.

It was interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first major test against one of the Premier League’s top five sides and he managed to guide his side to a very important victory. Ole has now won six out of six as United’s gaffer and that’s the first time any Man Utd boss has managed that feat.

In truth, it was a game of two halves as United edged the first period before Spurs dominated the game in the second half.

At times after the the break, it was more like Tottenham versus David de Gea rather than Man United. The Red Devils goalkeeper was in sensational form as he constantly thwarted the Spurs attack.

According to Whoscored, the Spanish goalie made eleven saves and collected the ball on four occasions.

While the United backline looked uncomfortable at times during the second forty-five minutes they were strong in the opening half. They were compact, got in front of shots and made tackles. The defence were helped out by midfielders Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera. They would drop deep whenever Spurs ventured into their half and that restricted space in the final third.

Tottenham actually performed better when Christian Eriksen played a bit deeper in midfield. That allowed the Dane to get onto the ball and have space to look up and pick out a good pass, allowing Spurs to get the ball into dangerous positions quicker.

United’s defence became more settled again for the last ten minutes or so, a big part of that was down to Solskjaer throwing on another defender in Diogo Dalot. They became tighter again at the back and throwing themselves into blocks and challenges.

In fairness to the defence, they’ve managed to keep three cleansheets in their last three fixtures and that’s a big improvement on their early season form.

When the Norwegian coach arrived at Old Trafford, he stated that he wanted to see Man United attacking again (Via The National):

“So why should we stop them? The attacking philosophy is in the walls of Man United. That’s tradition, that’s history, that’s how we play and want to play.”

That mentality brushed aside Cardiff City, Bournemouth, Huddersfield Town, Newcastle United and Reading but it was always going to be different against Spurs.

Ole’s tactics in the first half against Mauricio Pochettino’s side worked a treat. As I said the defence were compact and solid, with the help of the holding midfielders. While the attackers offered good runs and an impact in the final third.

It did change in the second period but United still managed to see out the win and they collected themselves in the last ten minutes. You need luck in the biggest games and United had that too.

It was also noted that Solskjaer had to get the best from his attacking talent. Former boss Jose Mourinho restricted his forward-line and they weren’t as effective as they should’ve been.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has given his forward players more freedom and they’ve flourished.

In particular, Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba have shone since the caretaker bosses arrival. The duo combined brilliantly to grab the game’s winner; with Pogba producing a word class pass over the top for Rashford to latch onto and finish brilliantly with a stunning strike.

The interim manager has made young English striker Rashford is main attacker and Marcus has rewarded him with four goals in six games.

French World Cup winner Pogba has also been in scintillating form since Solskjaer’s arrival. The midfielder is thriving with his new attacking responsibilities and is playing with a swagger and a smile again. He’s played in Ole’s first five Premier League outings and has contributed with four goals and four assists. Paul looks to be bossing the engine room and becoming the match-winning performer everyone knew he could be.

Make no mistake, under Mourinho, Manchester United would have lost that game today. Yes The Red Devils rode their luck in the second half but they managed to create and take the chance that mattered. They looked hopeless in their earlier games against the other top English sides this term. Getting a win away to Tottenham Hotspur keeps the confidence at a high level and it also shows the rest of the league that Man Utd aren’t a soft touch anymore.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been terrific since coming in. United are now level on points with fifth placed Arsenal and are getting closer to the top four.

Ole has passed his first big test as a Man United manager and now has a strong foundation to build upon!

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