LONDON (REUTERS) – A week can be an awfully long time in soccer as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer showed on Saturday (Oct 30) with an impressive riposte to those who predicted his Old Trafford days were numbered.
Last weekend’s humiliating 5-0 home defeat by Liverpool produced a typically hysterical response from fans and media alike, but the Norwegian deflected the unwanted spotlight as his side crushed Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 six days later.
Solskjaer’s tactics had been rightly questioned in the aftermath of the Liverpool shocker but a few tweaks in north London, namely the inclusion of Uruguayan forward Edinson Cavani alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, worked a treat.
After conceding nine goals in their last two league games the inclusion of Raphael Varane in a back three alongside Victor Lindelof and captain Harry Maguire also gave Solskjaer’s team more solidity.
Solskjaer could have been excused for gloating after his side’s win that lifted them into fifth spot, only three points behind champions Manchester City.
Instead, Solskjaer was full of praise for his players.
“Of course, when you come off the pitch winning 3-0, keeping the ball away from our goal – David de Gea didn’t have a save to make – that’s pleasing,” he said.
“In football, sometimes, it goes for us and sometimes against. We worked on this this week. The boys were brilliant, they took it on board.
“Raphael Varane is a top player. He reads the game well. He’s quick and so experienced. To get him back was massive.”
Some had even questioned Ronaldo’s place in the starting line-up but the Portuguese scored a splendid opener and set up Cavani for the second.
“I’ve been here three years as manager and Tuesday’s training performance by Edinson Cavani is the best performance anyone has put into a training session here,” he said.
“The old men led from the front. They play well together. They have loads of respect for each other. The work rate and quality they put in is second to none.”
Such is life in the Old Trafford hot seat, however, that Solskjaer knows a poor result away to Atalanta in midweek in the Champions League will put him in the dock once again.
And he knows that it will need more than a win against a poor Tottenham side to erase the taste of the Liverpool debacle.
“Of course, it doesn’t. That’s always going to be in the history books – one of the darkest days. A dark spot on our CV. But football becomes history so quickly,” Solskjaer said.