Sunday, June 16, 2019

Solskjaer pays tribute to fringe players after injury crisis

SoccerNews in English Premier League 24 Feb 2019


Manchester United caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer saluted Scott McTominay and Andreas Pereira for their performances as the Red Devils endured something of an injury crisis in Sunday’s 0-0 draw with Liverpool.

United saw Ander Herrera, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard all forced off in the first half – the latter having come off the bench himself to replace Mata – while an early kick to Marcus Rashford’s ankle saw him struggle for much of the match.

McTominay had been selected in the starting XI with Nemanja Matic unavailable and Pereira was introduced when Herrera was unable to continue midway through the opening period.

Both Pereira and McTominay have come in for criticism from some sections of fans but were busy in midfield when United found themselves under pressure in the second half and Solskjaer applauded their performances, likening the latter to a former Old Trafford favourite.

“I learnt a lot about the players today,” Solskjaer told reporters. “I learnt a lot about Scott McTominay. I’ve been waiting to give him a chance in a more attacking role. He can get into the box, he’s dangerous.

“He was a Darren Fletcher for us today. He’s an absolutely fantastic guy. He’s not played since Reading, that’s six weeks ago, so it’s a great performance.

“And Andreas, with the criticism he’s had lately, he had to come on early and I thought he did fantastic.

“I learnt a lot about the character of the team as well, because we knew that first half wasn’t good enough with the ball. I’ve never seen us so sloppy with the ball, giving so many easy balls away, but we got through it.”

United secured a fourth clean sheet in five games across all competitions, and David de Gea’s 100th in the Premier League, as they put in a solid defensive display.

Luke Shaw in particular impressed Solskjaer, dealing commendably with Mohamed Salah.

“I’m very happy with it [the clean sheet],” Solskjaer said. “That’s the foundation. If you keep clean sheets, and if you keep David not very occupied, you know you’ve got something going.

“All teams have to be built from that foundation. Victor [Lindelof] and Chris [Smalling], they were fantastic.

“Luke Shaw, that was his best performance for me, definitely, and it’s one of those things, you want him to go forward more, but Salah and [Sadio] Mane, they’re not bad either.

“So, we had to take a little bit of caution. You’re never happy not winning, but this was a good performance.”


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