Nobody expected to see Ole Gunnar Solskjaer pick Matteo Darmian as a centre-back against Reading.
Yet that’s exactly what the interim Manchester United boss did and the Italian was a pleasant surprise.
United were short of options with Victor Lindelöf rested, Eric Bailly suspended, and Chris Smalling and Marcos Rojo injured.
We had even wondered if it might mean a debut for youngster Ro-Shaun Williams.
It was a bit underwhelming to see Darmian in the makeshift role on the teamsheet, but he proved why Solskjaer trusted him.

(Photo by Tom Purslow/Man Utd via Getty Images)


Darmian was composed and steady against an admittedly poor Reading side as United kept a clean sheet in a 2-0 win at Old Trafford.

Positive performance

It was a disjointed performance from United, which often happens when so many changes are made to the team at once.
Darmian’s efforts were one of the few bright spots to emerge from the game and he could end up being used in the position in an emergency in the future.

(Photo by Tom Purslow/Man Utd via Getty Images)


Solskjaer praised him, telling the club website he saw him as the biggest positive.
He said: “He was the biggest plus today you have to say. Of course Romelu got the goal, but Matteo looked like he had played centre-back for a while.
“He’s a cultured Italian and very calm on the ball. He was one of the few who settled us down and tried to pass it and I don’t think he put a foot wrong.”
Here is a look at how United fans reacted to Darmian’s performance…
 
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