Man Utd boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s admission proves Jose Mourinho right about one star
Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer might have proved former boss Jose Mourinho correct about one player after revealing who impressed him the most in the Red Devils’ 3-0 thumping of Tottenham on Saturday evening. Goals by Cristiano Ronaldo, Edinson Cavani and Marcus Rashford earned Solskjaer an important win.
The Norwegian desperately needed a positive result after overseeing a disastrous run of results. That was compounded by the embarrassing 5-0 thrashing by Liverpool last weekend.
Several changes were made by Solskjaer in an attempt to win a first Premier League fixture in five attempts.
United switched from a back four to a back five to give themselves more defensive solidity. Raphael Varane was put back into the backline after missing the last month with a groin injury.
Goalscorer Cavani was handed a rare start and rewarded Solskjaer’s faith by scoring the second goal. The United boss praised both Cavani and Ronaldo for their involvement.
However, Solskjaer surprisingly handed midfielder Scott McTominay the Man of the Match award.
“Solidity, we got experience together with Cristiano [Ronaldo] and Edinson [Cavani],” Solskjaer told Sky Sports about what impressed him about his side’s performance.
“We got more control and we probably got a man of the match performance from Scott McTominay. I thought he was outstanding out there and, for me, unplayable.”
It echoes praise aimed at McTominay by former boss Mourinho. The 58-year-old handed the Scotland international his senior debut in 2016 and, at the end of the 2017-18 campaign, he made up an award just to present to the player.
Mourinho created the Manager’s Player of the Year award and gushed about McTominay at the club’s annual awards ceremony.
At the time, handing a player who made just 13 Premier League appearances during the season was perceived as a dig at the club’s more senior stars.
“He started the season in the academy and ended it playing big games in the Premier League,” Mourinho said of the then-21-year-old.
“I thought this kid cannot go home without an award. It was between him and [Nemanja] Matic, because Matic last March, 2017, told me: ‘I want to play for you and I want to play for Manchester United’, and he made it happen.
“He has been very consistent and very important for the balance of the team. I was going for him, but then I understood, in two awards for young players, Scott was not getting one. I changed my mind because it wasn’t acceptable.
“He is the one who has done everything. I always say that, for me, there are not young players or old players, it is just about the quality of the personality and this kid has everything that I want.”
McTominay revealed in October 2019, almost a year after Mourinho’s departure, that he remains in touch with the Portuguese.
He told Sky Sports: “Jose is very special to me. He still keeps in contact with me now and keeps in touch after some games.
“He’ll always have a special place in mine and my family’s heart because he’s the one who brought you in, he was the one who trusted you, he was the one who had belief in you.
“I owe a tremendous amount of credit to him because if it wasn’t for him I might not necessarily be sitting in this seat.”
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