Sunday, December 5, 2021

Cavani set the tone for Man Utd response with ´best training performance´ Solskjaer has seen

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 30 Oct 2021

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Edinson Cavani set the tone for Manchester United’s response to humiliation at the hands of Liverpool by producing the best training performance Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has seen in his three years as manager.

United were crushed 5-0 at home by Liverpool last Sunday, a defeat that for a time looked to have cost Solskjaer his job.

The Norwegian was given more time by the club’s hierarchy and United responded well on Saturday, beating Tottenham 3-0 on the road in what was the Red Devils’ biggest away win over Spurs since February 2007 (4-0).

Solskjaer switched to a back three and partnered Cavani up front with Cristiano Ronaldo, both of whom found the net. Their combination for the Uruguayan’s strike was the first time two players aged 34 or older linked up for a Premier League goal for United since Paul Scholes set up Ryan Giggs in August 2010.

The average age of United’s starting XI (28 years, 325 days) was the oldest Solskjaer has named for the club in the Premier League, but it did the trick, and he was glowing in his appraisal of the two experienced strikers afterwards.

Asked if it was a conscious decision to turn to experience, Solskjaer told Sky Sports: “I’ve been here more or less three years as manager and Tuesday’s training performance by Edinson Cavani was probably the best anyone’s put in here, so the old men led from the front.

“They play well together, they have loads of respect for each other. Of course, we have loads of talented players, and to learn from those two, they’ve got to learn as quickly as they can because these two, the work rate they put in, the quality they put in is second to none.”

The victory will have eased the pressure on Solskjaer somewhat, though he did not see it as an example of the players specifically playing for him.

“They’ll play for the club no matter what, this is not about me,” he continued. “As I said before the game, it’s about us improving as a group and if anyone doesn’t give everything for Man United, they won’t play, it’s as easy as that.”

United have not been strangers to playing three at the back under Solskjaer. While results in the past have been mixed when deploying such a set-up, he felt it was important to use it on this occasion to ensure greater defensive stability.

Asked why he went for a back three, Solskjaer said: “Solidity. We got experience together, with Cristiano and Edi; we got more control and we probably got a man-of-the-match performance from Scott McTominay.

“For me, he was unplayable. I thought they all played really well, and of course we had the experience of Raphael Varane to put in the middle of the defence. It helped.”

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