Manchester United were forced to turn to their big guns to finally break down Norwich
Manchester United were forced to turn to their big guns to finally break down Norwich… Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will know his supporting cast is not as strong as he’d like after making EIGHT changes for FA Cup quarter-final
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer relies on the strength of his first team to maintain resultsHe made eight changes to his team during their FA Cup quarter-final this weekMan Utd have had a run of 13 games unbeaten dating back to Tranmere Rovers
No-one could blame Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for trusting the depth of his Manchester squad at the moment.
A run of 13 games unbeaten stretching back to a 6-0 win over Tranmere Rovers in the FA Cup in January was testament to United’s form and confidence coming into this quarter-final against Norwich City, whatever changes Solskjaer has made.
The United boss decided on another eight of them at Carrow Road yesterday, reverting to the cup side that won 3-0 at Derby County on the last round with the exception of Harry Maguire who was ill that night.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said he relies on the strength of his first team to maintain his sides results
‘They played very well against Derby and did a professional job,’ said Solskjaer before kick-off. ‘We’ve got a big, strong squad and a lot of games. There are many reasons to give these another chance.’
Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial – on a high after his hat-trick against Sheffield United on Wednesday night – were left on the bench, which was a surprise given the importance of this competition to United’s season. Maguire and Bruno Fernandes, the mainstays of this team, were two of the three players retained from that game.
However, there was sufficient evidence at Norwich to suggest that United’s supporting cast is still not as strong as Solskjaer would like. Would he, for instance, keep/have kept faith with them again and make/made the same number of changes for the semi-final? Or the final even? It seems unlikely.
Anthony Martial scored his first hat-trick for United against Sheffield United on Wednesday
Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford started Manchester United’s most recent game on the bench
Norwich, bottom of the Premier and heading for relegation, were the more purposeful team in the first half. Only Maguire’s block from Lukas Rupp stopped them going in front. For once, even Fernandes was off the boil, giving the ball away cheaply several times.
Suddenly a United team that has been flying since the Portuguese star signed in January were flagging against a Norwich side that had conceded seven goals against them in two Premier League fixtures this season.
It was a peculiar spectacle and not least because this was the first ever FA Cup tie in June, and one that was played out to the sound of voices echoing around an empty Carrow Road.
Solskjaer resisted the temptation to make changes at half-time and seemed to have been vindicated when Odion Ighalo put United ahead six minutes after the restart.
Rashford, Mason Greenwood and Brandon Williams were introduced just after the hour mark but what followed was an excellent – and deserved – Norwich equaliser from Todd Cantwell, so on came Pogba and Nemanja Matic.
Having failed to hold into a one-goal lead, United struggled to make the most of a one-man advantage as well after Timm Klose was shown a straight red card for hauling back Ighalo.
Martial finally made it on in the first period of extra-time, but Solskjaer would not have anticipated calling on so many of his big guns.