LONDON — After criticism of his tactical strategy through the Champions League defeat to Younger Boys on Tuesday, Manchester United supervisor Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was in no temper to get into the finer factors of his soccer philosophy forward of the journey to West Ham United.
“Soccer is a straightforward recreation,” he stated. “Typically we glance an excessive amount of into the intricacies to elucidate it, but it surely’s about ardour and need.”
If nothing else, Solskjaer’s crew has sufficient of these qualities, with Sunday proving the most recent instance. In a recreation they could have misplaced on the London Stadium, Man United ended up with a 2-1 win.
It helps, too, when you might have a striker of the standard of Cristiano Ronaldo and so many choices in your squad that you may change Paul Pogba and Mason Greenwood with substitutes like Jadon Sancho and Jesse Lingard.
It was Lingard who scored the winner in opposition to the membership for whom he impressed on mortgage final season, though Man United additionally wanted David De Gea to save lots of Mark Noble’s stoppage-time penalty to verify they returned residence with all three factors.
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The dramatic win maintained an unbeaten begin to the Premier League season for Solskjaer’s males and marks solely the second time in 10 years that Man United have been unbeaten after 5 video games. They’ve additionally gone 29 away video games with out defeat within the league, relationship again to January 2020.
“We’re very proud of the win and we deserved the win,” Solskjaer stated afterward. “We performed some superb soccer, created good possibilities and we pressed them into making a great deal of errors.”
Throughout his dialogue of ways at a information convention on Thursday, Solskjaer insisted video games are extra commonly determined by “which one of many strikers has the will to get on the tip of crosses.” On Sunday, Ronaldo once more stepped up in that regard.
There could be little doubt that Man United should enhance earlier than being thought-about real title challengers alongside Manchester Metropolis, Liverpool and Chelsea, however whereas the Norwegian tries to work out a means of getting Ronaldo, Pogba and Bruno Fernandes to jell, the Portuguese ahead is proving helpful at papering over cracks.
Of the seven targets Man United have scored since his debut, Ronaldo has received 4 and, whereas his equaliser in opposition to West Ham is not going to bother judges of the Puskas Award, it was the kind of purpose they’ve missed. He’s in the fitting place on the proper time, so much.
That Thirty fifth-minute strike coated up a disjointed first-half efficiency. As was so usually the case final season, Man United began slowly and deserved to go behind after half an hour, even when the style of the purpose was unlucky.
Jarrod Bowen had already gone close twice — once after Harry Maguire had been robbed of possession inches from his own penalty area — when Said Benrahma’s shot hit Raphael Varane and sent De Gea the wrong way.
But Solskjaer had promised a reaction to the shock Champions League defeat to Young Boys, and Man United, to their credit, responded well. Fernandes clipped a cross into the penalty area and Ronaldo ran off Aaron Cresswell and, having seen his goalward flick saved by Lukasz Fabianski, stayed alert to tap in the rebound.
Subjected to boos and jeers by the home fans all afternoon, Ronaldo collected the ball out of the net and gave a “calm down” gesture toward the stands. Baiting him rarely works, and he remained Man United’s most likely threat.
Moments after his goal, Ronaldo was played in down the right and forced Fabianski into a good save. West Ham defender Angelo Ogbonna, having tried to keep up, puffed his cheeks as he picked himself off the floor, wearing the look of a man who realised it could be a long afternoon.
It is bound to be when your opponents have Sancho, Lingard, Donny van de Beek, Juan Mata and Anthony Martial on the bench, and despite West Ham stifling Man United’s attack for the next 40 minutes or so, Solskjaer’s squad depth was too much in the end.
Having come on with Sancho after 73 minutes, Lingard collected a pass from another replacement, Nemanja Matic, before cutting in from the left side of the penalty area to launch a shot into the top corner. The goal was redemption for a player, who not only became a favourite for West Ham fans last term, but was looking to respond after a poor backpass led to United’s midweek defeat.
Solskjaer, meanwhile, had some vindication of his own game management, given the role of his substitutes, and was especially effusive of Lingard following the 28-year-old’s difficult week, which came after he opted not to leave Old Trafford.
“Jesse was quite clear [in the summer] he wants to fight for his place and be part of a Man United team that is going places; he’s really contributing,” Solskjaer said. “I’m so pleased he handles the highs and lows really well. He’s becoming a grown man and is a very good player.”
But despite such a late goal, there was time for more drama as the game drew to a close. Deep into stoppage time, having waved away repeated claims from Ronaldo for penalties, referee Martin Atkinson went to the video screen before deciding Luke Shaw handled Andriy Yarmolenko’s cross.
De Gea, who was criticised for his failure to save any of the 11 penalties he faced against Villarreal in the Europa League final shootout in May, guessed right and saved from Mark Noble, who had been brought off the bench to take the spot kick.
Noble’s previous penalty miss and De Gea’s last save both came in 2016 but, in a high-pressure moment, the tables were turned and Man United — players and manager alike — mobbed their goalkeeper at full-time. Football can sometimes be hard to explain.