Three questions for United after the Manchester derby

Manchester United beat Manchester City 1-0 at the Etihad Stadium last night but failed to make it to the final of the EFL Cup.

United ultimately paid the price for their 3-1 home defeat in the first leg as they were unable to beat the odds last night.

The game throws up plenty of questions for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and we’ve picked out three of the most pressing.

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How much can be read into the win?

The history books will show that United have beaten their bitterest rivals on their own patch twice within two months.

That’s the positive Solskjaer will look to accentuate as he aims to lead his side out of a testing period.

But it’s a different type of victory when the opposition are passing it around the back at 1-0, knowing they are off to Wembley regardless.

United played with pride and organisation on the night but perhaps not too much can be read into the victory given the context.

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Why didn’t Mata take late free kick?

Once they were down to ten men, United must have known that they were only going to get a limited number of chances to snatch a second goal.

That opportunity came late on when Harry Maguire was fouled on the edge of the box.

The free kick was perfectly positioned for the left foot of Juan Mata but instead it was Fred who put the ball down.

Fred has not scored once for United this season and has never scored a free kick for the club, while Mata has form from the dead ball over a number of years.

Fred should have had the humility to step aside or Mata or Solskjaer should have pulled rank but the chance came and went.

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Where does Lingard go from here?

Solskjaer has generally backed Jesse Lingard through his poor form and lack of goal return during his reign.

But something seemed to snap last night when Solskjaer berated the midfielder for wasting a counter-attacking opportunity before replacing him with Andreas Pereira.

With Bruno Fernandes, a number 10 with a far, far superior goals and assists output looking set to join imminently, where does Lingard go from here?

He has to step up to the plate in a way that has proved beyond him so far this season. Otherwise he could become a candidate to be sold in the summer.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.