Manchester United overcame West Ham United 2-1 in a thrilling affair at the London Stadium.
The Hammers were the better team in the opening half-an hour and took the lead courtesy of Said Benrahma’s deflected strike.
But, Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo combined brilliantly, with the latter reacting to his saved header from Fernandes’ cross, to poke home at the second time of asking.
Jesse Lingard scored a powerful strike into the top corner that saw both sides threaten to score a winner.
Andriy Yanmolenko crossed over Luke Shaw’s shoulder, giving David Moyes’ team a late penalty. Mark Noble, West Ham captain, was called up from the bench in order to take the spot kick. But David De Gea saved his spot-kick.
Daily Star Sport takes a look at three things Solskjaer got right and two that were wrong…
Fred and McTominay’s midfield struggles
Where will Manchester United finish this season? Comment below
Solskjaer deployed Fred and Scott McTominay as a midfield pivot for the first time since the opening day 5-1 victory against Leeds United.
It is presumed the Norwegian boss opted to partner the two lynch pins to cut out West Ham’s fast counterattacks.
However, both players seemed to be overwhelmed in the middle of the park as they struggled to hold on to the ball, and deal with West Ham’s attacking options on the break.
While his defensive attributes are perhaps not as refined as those of McTominay and Fred, United seemed to miss Pogba’s passing range and ability to play through the lines.
At times, the Frenchman became impatient and began to dive deeper and deeper for the ball.
McTominay and Fred were not present when Benrahma was awarded the ball at 25 yards from the goal. McTominay’s deflected attempt put the Hammers ahead.
Sometimes creativity needs to be sacrificed to provide extra defensive solidity; however, it did not appear to work in United’s favour at the London Stadium.
Greenwood’s day to forget
Greenwood began the season in electric fashions, leading the line at centre forward, scoring three goals in United’s opening three matches.
However, Ronaldo’s return means he has had to be shafted out onto the right-hand side to make way for the imperious five-time Ballon D’Or winner.
Ronaldo has been a shining light for United but Greenwood hasn’t had the chance to display the same cutting edge and penetration he showed earlier in the season from wide areas.
Greenwood can use both his left and right feet well, but prefers to work inwards on his left foot.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka, full-back, doesn’t move forward as often as Shaw. This means that Greenwood has to face both opposing full-backs, as well as covering wingers and defensive midfielders.
He ran on the left side of the defender to finish the match against Leeds United.
His strike against Leeds and his problems at the right-wing might suggest that he is more comfortable on the left-wing.
While Solskjaer needs to maximise Ronaldo’s qualities as much as possible, there may also be a way to get Greenwood in amongst the goals as well.
Sancho on the bench
The £70m man has struggled since joining the club this summer.
Although he has yet to score a goal or assist for Red Devils, this could have been his breakthrough game.
Shaw’s high positioning stretched the Hammers and created lots of gaps for Ronaldo, Fernandes, and Bruno.
Ronaldo often drifted over the left-hand side, but Sancho was there for the exploit.
Sancho’s ability to run in behind and operate in-between defences could have been devastating for United, particularly if Pogba was supplying him from the midfield.
As Solskjaer tried to inject some energy and freshness into the team, he was eventually replaced by Greenwood after twenty minutes.
Shaw’s marauding runs a boost for United
With Pogba moved back out to the left-hand side West Ham defender Vladimir Coufal probably thought he was not going to be troubled with many runs in behind him.
He was penned back in his half by Luke Shaw who seemed to be moving forward much more than usual.
His overlapping runs were a constant threat for the Czech Republic International, who didn’t have many opportunities to drive forward.
The England international was arguably United’s danger man in the first half hour, as he was a constant menace to the Czech Republic international.
Pogba was relieved of defensive responsibility by his darting runs from behind. Pablo Fornals preferred to drift inside, rather than exploiting the space left open by Shaw.
Pogba had more freedom to look for the ball on the pitch, which allowed him to network with Fernandes, Ronaldo and Greenwood.
Bruno and Ronaldo’s partnership
Bruno and Ronaldo did not appear to be on the same page when they were deployed together for Portugal in Euro 2020.
Fernandes was made to play the role of an impact substitute during the summer because Fernando Santos didn’t feel comfortable playing both players simultaneously.
The Portuguese couple appear to have formed a telepathic alliance, bringing United back into the contest.
Fernandes did not even need to look up when he swung in an inch perfect cross onto Ronaldo’s head.
Fernandes, a former striker for Real Madrid and Juventus, also instinctively knows where he has to be in order to score.
They dug United from a hole at London Stadium. If this performance is any indication, it will not the first time.