Manchester United caretaker boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says he warned his players that they “should never be outworked” before Saturday’s thrashing of Cardiff City.
The Red Devils claimed a 5-1 win in south Wales courtesy of two goals from Jesse Lingard and one each from Marcus Rashford, Ander Herrera and Anthony Martial.
It was the first time since Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013 that United had scored five in a Premier League match, and marked an ideal start to life for Solskjaer, who replaced the sacked Jose Mourinho on Wednesday.
It was put to Solskjaer that this is the first league game in 2018-19 in which United had outrun their opponents – they covered 104 kilometres compared to Cardiff’s 99 – and the former Norway star stressed that such work rate is a minimum requirement.
“One of the things I talked about is that a Manchester United team should never ever be outworked,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what team you play: you should run more than them and then your skills will give you a chance of winning again.
“I said the same to these lads as I do back home in Molde: ‘Just work harder than them, enjoy yourselves, pass it forward, run forward, if you lose the ball I don’t mind as long as you work to win it back’, and they did.
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“When you’ve got players like this with quality, they’re always going to create chances.
“There’s quite a few [positives]. The attitude and application of the boys when you go out there and see them, the attitude has been fantastic. The dressing room, the way they approached this game, because it’s been a difficult week for everyone and to get the focus and perform as well as they did impressed [me].
“Now we can settle down and play, because that was key today. The first 15, 20 minutes, we know the energy of the crowd, we knew they were going to come long, first balls and second balls.”
Cardiff boss Neil Warnock was left to rue what he described as Sunday-league defending as they suffered their heaviest defeat of the season since a 5-0 loss to Manchester City in September.
“I thought we started the game quite well but to concede a goal like that was Sunday league, really,” he told BBC Sport.
“It was very disappointing the way we conceded those goals. You can’t keep shooting yourselves in the foot like we did.
“Having said that, if you told me at the start of the season that we wouldn’t be in the bottom three at Christmas, I’d have taken that.”
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