Ole Gunnar Solskjaer savoured a rare “comfortable day” as Manchester United breezed into the fifth round of the FA Cup with a 6-0 battering of Tranmere.
The Norwegian has been under pressure after Premier League defeats to Liverpool and Burnley in the last week and United’s form coupled with the boggy nature of the Prenton Park playing surface were ingredients for a cup upset.
However, a much-changed United team showed the vast gulf in quality between themselves and a side lurching near the foot of the League One table, not looking back after the unlikely source of Harry Maguire put them ahead.
What a performance!— The Emirates FA Cup (@EmiratesFACup) January 26, 2020
The United captain opened his account for the club in remarkable fashion, rifling into the top corner from 25 yards, before Diogo Dalot, Jesse Lingard, Phil Jones and Anthony Martial all found the net in the first half.
Mason Greenwood’s penalty after second-half substitute Tahith Chong had fallen over Tranmere goalkeeper Scott Davies’ trailing leg completed the rout in a performance that left Solskjaer impressed.
“When you score two or three goals early on, it’s a comfortable day. I thought the boys enjoyed it, I enjoyed it, the fans enjoyed it, so a good day,” the United manager said.
“This game was one where everyone apart from Man United fans wanted us to lose. It’s been a bit of pressure on them but they’ve enjoyed it.
“It was a difficult pitch but we went about it the right way; just worked hard, played simple but effective and played the right way.”
The only blemish on Sunday afternoon for United came when supporters in the away end appeared to voice their frustration about chief executive Ed Woodward as well as the club’s owners, the Glazer family.
While Solskjaer did not directly address the chants, the former striker did admit that fans could be appeased if United take this form into the rest of their season.
He added: “We’re just going to keep on working and try to get the results right and keep working to move the club forward.
“Supporters are always happier when you win games and when you’re successful. We’ll just keep on working to get results.”
On Maguire’s screamer, Solskjaer added: “It’s some way to open your account. That’s not the way we thought it was going to happen, but finally! It’s good for him, it’s always nice to get the first goal.”
Tranmere manager Micky Mellon had nothing but warm words for his players, who had come through a replay that went to extra-time against a callow Watford outfit three days ago.
His focus now is on preserving their status in League One, where they sit 21st and three points adrift of safety, albeit with games in hand on those above them.
Mellon said: “We’re playing against Man United! I can only be proud of my players.
“Of course we’ll say there was things that we would want to do better but we’ve come up against some unbelievable quality.
“Their centre-half has come forward and bent it in from 25 yards, it’s definitely a different thing to what we would normally face.
“But we now can stand here and say we’ve got everything and more out of this cup run. Financially and exposure-wise, we got everything we wanted.
“So now it will be about what the season has always been about and that’s keeping Tranmere in this division and keep moving it forward from a team that was non-league two years ago.”
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