Ole Gunnar Solskjaer started life as permanent Manchester United manager with a win against Watford.
Here, Press Association Sport’s Simon Peach takes a look at how the Norwegian got on in Saturday’s 2-1 triumph.
Solskjaer scarves were selling well as fans descended on Old Trafford, where the newly-appointed manager used his programme notes to thank everyone from family to fans for their support. The United boss said it did not feel any different walking into the ground as full-time boss, but the pre-match reception showed how much the news meant to the Old Trafford faithful. Solskjaer applauded all four corners of the ground as he emerged to chants of his name along with a huge ’20LEGEND’ surfer banner in the Stretford End.
“This is the start of the start – now the hard work starts for all of us,” wrote Solskjaer in the matchday programme. The United manager made four alterations from the poor FA Cup loss at Wolves before the international break. Anthony Martial was among those and also part of a four-strong group that pulled out of international commitments due to injury only to start on Saturday. Marcus Rashford, Nemanja Matic and Luke Shaw were the others, allowing United to name close to a first-choice line-up in a 4-3-3 formation.
Impact from the sideline
Solskjaer underlined the need to defend well ahead of the match – a task made harder by Victor Lindelof’s absence. United looked unsettled behind an unusually sloppy midfield as Watford attacked strongly. They rode their luck, but the three-pronged attack and high-flying full-backs paid dividends in the 28th minute as left-back Shaw won possession and superbly sent Rashford through to score. Solskjaer’s side started the second period as badly as they had kicked off the game. After a few close shaves and some deliberation on the bench, Solskjaer turned to Jesse Lingard and Andreas Pereira in the 64th minute in a bid to change things.
That double substitution did the business, with both players involved in the build-up to Martial’s key second goal. The late switch to a five-man defence could not prevent Abdoulaye Doucoure from netting a late goal, but this was an important show of resilience after back-to-back defeats. United are a work in progress but now everyone is reading from the same hymn sheet.
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