Ole Gunnar Solskjaer picked his oldest team as manager of Manchester United in the 3-0 win against Tottenham and unlike last weekend’s massacre against Liverpool, the tactics and game plan proved a success.
A stunning volley from Cristiano Ronaldo and clinical finishes from Edinson Cavani and Marcus Rashford ensured the Red Devils started a crucial week with a morale boosting win.
Alongside switching to a three at the back to shore up a backline that needed urgent protection, here are four other things Solskjaer got right at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium…
Bringing Varane back
After rushing Harry Maguire back against Leicester which he openly admitted was an error, Solskjaer’s decision to immediately recall the fit again Raphael Varane was vindicated.
Playing at the heart of the back three with Maguire and Victor Lindelof either side of him, the World Cup winner brought a much-needed commanding and assured presence to the heart of our defence.
Whenever Tottenham built up the pressure, the four-time Champions League winner was on hand to swat aside the danger.
The 28-year-old made six clearances against Nuno Espirito Santo’s side, which was more than any other player on the pitch (WhoScored).
Keeping faith with Fernandes
There couldn’t have really been any arguments if Solskjaer had decided to make 10 outfield changes to the starting line-up, following the atrocious performance against Liverpool.
But the Norwegian made just two changes which meant Bruno Fernandes kept his place in the side.
United’s number 18 gave a timely reminder of his creative qualities by picking out Ronaldo at the back post, who opened the scoring with a phenomenal finish.
Unlike last week against Jurgen Klopp’s side, Fernandes fulfilled his defensive duties and cut out a quick throw in and through ball to Son Heung-min at crucial times.
The Portuguese international was once again the game’s outright leader for the number of key passes made (3).
Starting Ronaldo and Cavani
The decision to change to a 3-5-2 gave Solskjaer the perfect opportunity to unleash Ronaldo and Cavani as a strike duo from the start for the first time.
It’s safe to say that neither of his predatory goalscorers disappointed on their first audition playing together.
The legendary forwards led the line and caused Tottenham’s vulnerable defence all sorts of problems due to their clever, explosive movement.
Although United’s team looked a lot more defensive on paper, having Fernandes, Ronaldo and Cavani playing close together with crosses coming into the box from the wing-backs, meant that United actually posed a greater threat.
Ronaldo and Cavani won’t start together every game, but when they do in this system – they could torment any defence if they are given the supply.
Leading 2-0 thanks to goals from Ronaldo and Cavani, Solskjaer had one eye on Tuesday night in Bergamo.
He brought off Ronaldo, Fernandes and Cavani for Marcus Rashford, Nemanja Matic and Jesse Lingard.
With the Tottenham crowd’s discontent growing with every passing second, the Spurs side didn’t really have any other choice but to become more adventurous, as they grew increasingly desperate for a route back into the match.
Matic and Rashford combined to pick Nuno’s side off for United’s third and Lingard ensured that he hassled and harried Spurs from the front.
On a day that had so much riding on the line for Solskjaer, judging by the 14 players he used, it’s clear who is trusted personnel are in the squad.