Darren Fletcher said that Manchester United United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer produced a ‘tactical masterclass’ in the 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley on Sunday.
Much has been made of Solskjaer returning the feel-good factor to within the Manchester United camp after a number of players had become disillusioned under Jose Mourinho.
However, Sunday’s clash against Spurs was the first real test of his managerial career and having had a week to work on a system during their warm weather training camp in Dubai, Solskjaer and his backroom staff identified a perceived weakness among their opponents, and made good on his promise to play attacking football.
Former Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher said that Solskjaer’s decision to use Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford as a front two and exploit the space left in behind the Spurs full-backs showed the Norwegian’s tactical nous.
“The first half is a tactical masterclass,” Fletcher told Match of the Day.
“The plan early on in the game was to run into the channels and turn spurs around. Every opportunity they got the ball they looked to exploit the space.
“They were taking the game to Spurs early in the first half. They did it because Spurs’ full-backs like to play high and wide.
“So their plan was for Martial and Rashford to stay wide and run in the channels either side of Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen. They did it all day.
“No defender wants to be left two v two against Martial, Rashford and Lingard because they have got pace, they have got ability and they are dangerous.”
While Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford were occupying the central defenders and exploiting the space left by the full-backs, Fletcher pointed out how crucial Jesse Lingard’s role was at the point of the diamond, breaking up play in the centre of midfield.
“A key part of being at the top of the diamond was Lingard,” Fletcher added. “He was all around the central midfielders winning the ball back, putting them under pressure and reading the passes. That is what leads to the winning goal.
“You can see by the reaction of the staff to the goal, that is a gameplan coming together and working perfectly.”
It was Lingard’s interception from Kieran Trippier that gave Pogba the opportunity to play his inch-perfect, raking ball into the path of Marcus Rashford, who duly scored the only goal of the game.