Ole Gunnar Solskjaer thinks Manchester United’s 3-0 win at Fulham was the ideal preparation for Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Paris Saint-Germain.
The Red Devils eased to a 10th win in 11 games under their caretaker manager on Saturday, thanks to a double from Paul Pogba and a fine Anthony Martial solo goal at Craven Cottage, despite Solskjaer making six changes to the side that won at Leicester City last week.
The win lifts United into fourth place in the Premier League ahead of a daunting run of fixtures, which includes the first leg of their last-16 tie with PSG, an FA Cup trip to Chelsea and home league game against Liverpool.
And Solskjaer agreed the defeat of Claudio Ranieri’s side was the perfect warm-up, telling reporters: “I would have to say so because it’s a tough place to come and we gave them the first 10 minutes, maybe played into their hands, some counter-attacks, they put the ball into the box a few times but then, after we scored the first goal, we played a fantastic last 80 minutes.”
Discussing his decision to change his line-up, which including leaving Marcus Rashford on the bench after he picked up a knock at Leicester, Solskjaer said: “If we are going to be successful this season, we need everyone to contribute and everyone in the squad knows they’ve got chance to contribute if it’s now or next week or the week after. You’ve just got to be ready when you get the chance.
“When I played, the manager was always assuring us that when you’re a part of this squad, you’re important for us.”
Solskjaer says he spoke to co-owner Avram Glazer after the match when the American visited the United dressing room, but he insists the team’s improvement is not simply down to his impact.
When it comes to @AnthonyMartial, Ole speaks for all of us!
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) February 9, 2019
“I’ve just spoken to him outside,” he said. “He came to the dressing room. Of course, they’re all happy after winning the game. Who I meet and when I meet people is not really up for me to tell.
“It’s not me making a difference to the club. It’s the whole team, it’s all of us together. We’ve done really well in the 11 games we’ve played but it’s down to the team effort. It’s the players who play, it’s the staff, how we do things at Carrington, at the training ground, the mood, it’s never about one person when the team is winning games.”
Fulham boss Claudio Ranieri felt his players were too eager to force an equaliser following Pogba’s 14th minute opener, which allowed Martial to exploit them on the break for the second goal.
“We started very well, we created two great chances to score a goal, but suddenly Pogba scored the first goal, and I think, ‘Okay, stay calm, and we can continue to play and find a solution’,” he said.
“But my players are very… not anxious, but they want to score immediately, but against big teams, it’s difficult. We conceded the counter-attack, and at that point it was more difficult.
“When you play against champions, you have to stay calm, don’t lose your composure. That’s the real problem.”
Ranieri understands the frustration of the fans, many of whom chanted ‘You don’t know what you’re doing’ when Ranieri took off Andre Schurrle for Cyrus Christie after 53 minutes.
“I understand the fans. They want to see that their players fight until the end,” he said. “I told my players that it’s important to show our fans we’re alive, we try to do our best until the end.”
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