Solskjaer awakens vintage Man Utd | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 24, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, December 24, 2018

Solskjaer awakens vintage Man Utd

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insisted having "good players" was the key to his instant impact as Manchester United caretaker manager in a 5-1 thumping of Cardiff on Saturday.

Not since Alex Ferguson's final game in charge in 2013 had United scored five goals in a single Premier League game and the Red Devils looked a side transformed from the turgid football of Jose Mourinho's final days in charge.

"One of the things I talked about is that a Manchester United team should never ever be outworked," Solskjaer said, after his team outran the opposition by 5km. "It doesn't matter what team you play: you should run more than them and then your skills will give you a chance of winning again.

"They are very good players, talented players, they've approached the game properly and worked hard."

The Norwegian has been put in charge until the end of the season after Mourinho was sacked on Tuesday and could not have asked for a better start.

As well as getting Solskjaer off to a flying start, victory also sees United close the gap on the Premier League top four to eight points thanks to Chelsea's 1-0 home defeat by Leicester earlier in the day.

"We're eight points behind, so our job is to take one game at a time," added Solskjaer. "We always play well in the second half of the season."

He also credited some messages from the club's all-time leading goalscorer Wayne Rooney.

"I arrived Thursday night and I think maybe all the texts and advice from Wazza [Rooney] helped today. He just told us to make them enjoy football, smile, go forward, be Man United. That's what I asked for because it's been a tough week for them. They've responded fantastically."

Paul Pogba was forced to watch the full 90 minutes from the bench last weekend as Liverpool inflicted the final blow to Mourinho's time in charge with a 3-1 win that left United 19 points off the top after just 17 games.

The French World Cup-winner was restored from the start for the first time in four league games and looked far more like the player United splashed a then world-record £89 million on in 2016 than the one that clashed with his former boss off the field and disappointed on it for much of the past two seasons.

"The performance of the team was great and we are happy that the first game of the manager starts like this," said Pogba. "It's important now to carry on like that. We cannot play like this and win with five goals and then the next game lose."

The visiting fans enthusiastically chanted Solskjaer's name throughout and were enjoying their side moving the ball around with a speed and accuracy more reminiscent of his days as a player when United dominated English football.

Pogba was at the heart of United's best work, earning a free-kick that led to Marcus Rashford's opener, before his intelligent pass picked out Ander Herrera, whose shot flicked off Greg Cunningham to loop over the helpless Neil Etheridge to make it 2-0 inside half an hour.

Cardiff got a penalty and Victor Camarasa's perfectly-taken spot-kick could have sparked a collapse for a team short on confidence in recent times. Instead, United responded resoundingly with a fantastic sequence that saw Anthony Martial score his ninth goal of the season. Lingard then scored another from the spot, before wrapping things up following another defence-splitting pass from Pogba a minute from time.

"I don't think he [new manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer] has stopped smiling. He was like that as a player. He always has a smile on his face and I think that can reflect down on to the team, which is a good thing. Ole has come in and we were preparing in the right way for a game, even though it's been a crazy week. "

ASHLEY YOUNG

MAN UNITED CAPTAIN

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