The Norwegian head coach defended his in-game decision making after seeing his team take a giant step towards the Europa League final
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hit back at Paul Scholes and Owen Hargreaves for criticising his midfield selection following Manchester United’s rout of Roma.
United put one foot in the Europa League final by thrashing Roma 6-2 at Old Trafford in the first leg of their last-four tie on Thursday night.
Solskjaer’s side were good value for their comprehensive victory in the end, but had to recover from a 2-1 deficit after being overrun in midfield in the first half.
What’s been said?
Former United stars Scholes and Hargreaves, who were both covering the game as pundits for BT Sport, advised the Norwegian to ring the changes at the interval after he started with Pogba, Fred and Scott McTominay in the middle of the park.
Solskjaer was relayed their comments in his post-match interview with the same broadcaster, and responded by insisting that he stuck with the most balanced team possible to pick up a positive result.
“It’s easy up there thinking who should play … but who should not play?” the United boss asked BT Sport. “That’s a very good team, it worked really good against Tottenham. Mason Greenwood should be disappointed not to be playing but it’s about balance.
“Maybe those two should try to leave players out and pick a team with balance. We know we have got creative players who can create big moments.
“Paul Pogba’s position today was very good in that position, he’s allowed some freedom. He’s got the foundation behind him. The difference today is we took most of our chances.
“The character showed that they came back and didn’t lose their heads. Maybe five or 10 minutes at the end of the first half, we didn’t look great but we got ourselves together.
“The two goals are junior, schoolboy errors that shouldn’t happen at this level.”
United run rampant in Europe
The Red Devils took the lead at Old Trafford after just nine minutes, with Bruno Fernandes racing through to finish off a slick passing move after being played in by Edinson Cavani.
However, Roma hit back via a Lorenzo Pellegrini penalty before Edin Dzeko tapped home from close range to complete a stunning first-half turnaround, leaving Solskjaer stone faced in the dugout.
United regrouped at the break and took their game up a notch after the restart, with Cavani quickly bringing them back level with a brilliant first-time finish following another swift counter-attack.
Cavani doubled his account when he reacted quickest to a rebounded Aaron Wan-Bissaka cross just after the hour mark, and Fernandes made it four with a penalty in the 71st minute.
A powerful header from Pogba and a late Greenwood strike rounded off the scoring for the hosts, who now have plenty of breathing space heading into the second leg at Stadio Olimpico next week.
Asked if United can now start looking ahead to a final date against either Arsenal or Villarreal, Solskjaer added: “No I don’t feel the job is done but it was a good job done. We did well but we know they have quality.
“They scored two goals from the two chances we gave them. They didn’t have loads of chances against Ajax [in the quarter-finals]. The second half was very good.”