An early brace from Paul Pogba set the tone for the game, with Marcus Rashford’s goal aiding the first half festivities. Substitute Romelu Lukaku was able to net United’s fourth in the second half, after which the Red Devils went down to 10 men following Eric Bailly’s red card.
Here are the 5 things we learned from the game:
1. Solskjaer In Elite Company
When he was first given the job of caretaker manager, there were a few who put doubts on his lack of experience and previous disastrous spell in the top flight with Cardiff City. However, with three back-to-back wins, an inaugural period he shares with Sir Matt Busby and Jose Mourinho, the club legend has swiftly made the position his own.
In fact, it now isn’t unfathomable to think that the club may be in good hands if United continue with the Norwegian next season as well, his brilliant attacking ethos in tow. Of course, all three of these teams have been relatively weaker sides, and the true test of his management will follow in the months to come.
2. Rashford vs Lukaku
Both men found the net on the night, albeit substitute Lukaku scored his from a missed offside position. However, that won’t win the Belgian his spot in the starting lineup.
This is particularly true, as the manner in which Rashford set up Pogba’s opener, taking on defenders and being firm with the ball – that is a feat that Lukaku, despite his size and experience, simply cannot ape.
The price tag and wage package the Belgian dots around will indeed make it a tough choice for Solskjaer to bench him, but the fact remains that Lukaku simply doesn’t fit as well in the present system as Rashford does. Will the role of an impact substitute be his for the next five months?
3. Howe’s Style Is Countered By Solskjaer
Eddie Howe is one of the men that are reportedly in the running to take over from Solskjaer when the season comes to an end. However, on the night, the Norwegian gaffer clearly outdid the Cherries boss.
The opposition’s usually brave and fast-paced counterattacks often came short in the face of an equally dynamic and fluid United team. Tactic for tactic, the Red Devils outdid the visitors.
One place where the home side did appear flawed is in the movement of their defense, with the renewed attacking style often leaving open spaces unprotected. Even here, Howe’s boys were often rendered toothless, and their sole goal of the night came when United were beginning to slack a tad bit.
WATCH: Why United Should Hire Eddie Howe
4. Pogba Is Truly Back
In three games under Solskjaer, Paul Pogba has netted 4 goals. In contrast, in Jose Mourinho’s last 14 games with the Frenchman, only 3 goals were scored. There is no denying that his vocal spat with Pogba was a strong contributing factor in the Portuguese tactician being sacked.
The present-day Frenchman is at the heart of nearly all forward runs that the team deploys, and the obvious freedom given to him upfront sees him enter the box much more often than Mourinho would have ever allowed him.
While the previous gaffer saw Pogba juggle his offensive and defensive duties, often failing at both, what Old Trafford has witnessed in the past two games is a force to be reckoned with. This is the player United broke the world record to bring back home.
5. Still No Clean Sheet
In what is becoming a recurring theme, David De Gea will return after the full-time whistle without a clean sheet to his name.
While it is certainly a bad sign for the club’s defensive record, having conceded 32 goals already this season, it is even more damaging to the Spaniard’s image as one of the best in the world.
United seemed to have sorted their offensive woes quite well. Now, they will be tasked with retaining their defensive discipline. If Solskjaer is indeed looking to bring the club back to the swagger with which it functioned under Sir Alex Ferguson, then he must certainly work towards plugging the flaws that are afflicting their backline.