Football

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: Season starts now

Pundit Shearer commends United boss for making line-up changes in 4-1 win over Newcastle

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer declared Manchester United's season "starts today" after Bruno Fernandes and Harry Maguire enjoyed sweet moments of redemption in their side's 4-1 win at Newcastle United yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Solskjaer's side suffered a humiliating 6-1 defeat against Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford just before the international break.

But they made partial amends for that embarrassment with a much-needed second win of the English Premier League season.

The Red Devils recovered from an early own goal by Luke Shaw to secure a comfortable victory with late strikes from Fernandes, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Marcus Rashford after under-fire skipper Maguire levelled the contest at 1-1.

"Great result and great character to come back, led by a very inspirational captain," Solskjaer said.

"The boys came together really well. They are looking forward to every game. Today I rested a few and they have come on and done the business for us.

"We don't want to use it as an excuse, but we needed pre-season... now we know our season started today, because we've come up to the speed of the game and that showed today."

After labelling the Spurs rout as the "worst" day of his career, Solskjaer made five changes - Eric Bailly, Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba, Mason Greenwood and Anthony Martial (suspended) were replaced by Victor Lindelof, Scott McTominay, Fred, Daniel James and Juan Mata.

Former Magpies striker Alan Shearer praised Solskjaer for his man management.

"From United's point of view, Solskjaer deserves credit for changing the team (after the Spurs game)," said the BBC's Match of the Day pundit.

"It had to be changed after that last performance. They played very, very well and they absolutely battered Newcastle.

"United kept on getting at it and running and running. They never gave up at the Newcastle defence. (So) well done to Solskjaer after that debacle."

Shearer was also impressed with midfielders Fernandes and Mata for being the orchestrators of the win at St James' Park.

"Mata and Fernandes were so clever, they just went into the pockets in front of Newcastle's front four," he said.

"If you give those two the right amount of time, they will cause problems and they did that. They were too good on the ball, they showed a lot of creativity that Newcastle didn't have.

PRAISE FOR MAGUIRE

Solskjaer took time to acknowledge his captain's display as well.

Maguire's first EPL goal since February was a cathartic moment after a troubled few months marred by poor performances on the pitch and his Greek court case off it.

"Harry scored and leads by example. He showed good character, I am happy for him. He had a couple of difficult weeks since he last played for us," the 47-year-old Norwegian said.

Meanwhile, Newcastle manager Steve Bruce blamed defensive lapses for his side's loss.

"We were beaten by the better team," Bruce said.

"The disappointment was we were naive in the end... we left wide open spaces in behind us... do that against top players it becomes very difficult."

Shearer, however, laid the blame on Bruce's tactics.

"Newcastle set up to soak up the pressure after their goal and they just sat back (which meant) they couldn't get anyone on the ball. I thought they were really poor," he said. - AFP, REUTERS

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