Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hailed a new dawn in Manchester United’s 2020-21 campaign after they accelerated away from Newcastle United in the closing stages at St James’ Park on Saturday.
United had been thrashed 6-1 at home by Tottenham in their previous match before the international break and looked set for another testing outing when Luke Shaw’s own goal gave Newcastle a second-minute lead.
However, the Red Devils responded impressively to win 4-1, with Harry Maguire’s equaliser followed by late goals from Bruno Fernandes, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Marcus Rashford, even allowing for the scorer of the second to miss a penalty.
Solskjaer was delighted with his team’s character as they now look to build on this result and picked out Maguire – under-fire after poor performances with club and country – for special praise.
“It’s a great result and great character to come back, led by a very inspirational captain,” Solskjaer told Sky Sports.
“The boys came together really well. They are looking forward to every game. Today I rested a few and they have come on and done the business for us.
“Harry scored and leads by example. He showed good character, I am happy for him. He had a couple of difficult weeks since he last played for us.
“The season started for us today. We have come up to the speed of the game and that showed today.”
Through the good times and the bad.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) October 17, 2020
With Paris Saint-Germain to come on Tuesday, a United team already weakened by the enforced absences of Anthony Martial and Edinson Cavani saw some big names start on the bench.
Paul Pogba was chief among them and was joined by Donny van de Beek and Alex Telles – two new signings – while Mason Greenwood did not even make the 18.
Solskjaer revealed Pogba was restricted to a role as a second-half substitute partly due to fitness complaints while away with France.
“Paul had hip and back problems when he was away with France, so it wasn’t right to start him,” the manager explained after bringing on both the World Cup winner and Van de Beek with the game still level.
“We have got big games coming up. Everyone has to perform when they come on. I am delighted for him.”