Ole Gunnar Solskjaer praised his substitutes after Manchester United booked their place in the FA Cup semi-final following a hard-fought 2-1 victory against Norwich.
United had struggled against the Canaries in the quarter-final clash at Carrow Road after Solskjaer made eight changes to the side that easily beat Sheffield United in the Premier League on Wednesday.
The rhythm and fluidity to United’s attack had disappeared and the Norwegian explained it was the result of making so many changes.
“We’re really happy with going through, Jesse (Lingard) and the others that hadn’t played and needed another game, they needed minutes to get the sharpness back and in that respect this worked out really well,” he said after Harry Maguire’s extra-time winner saw off 10-man Norwich.
“The difference between training and games, the competitive edge, will help them in the next few months.
“This team, they played together against Derby in the last round, it took us too long to get into rhythm of trusting ourselves passing between the lines, one and two touches, we moved the ball a little bit too slowly. We kept prodding and we got the goals we needed.”
Solskjaer became the first manager to utilise the option to use six substitutes, after the game had headed into extra time, and they needed the firepower off the bench and a red card for Timm Klose to push them to victory.
While Solskjaer praised the impact of all the substitutes, he was particularly impressed with Anthony Martial.
“I thought Anthony came on and did really well, he made a little bit of a difference, runs down the channel, some great sprints and turns, he was positive, with 10 men we knew we had 30 minutes, we had to keep prodding and take our chances,” Solskjaer said.
“With them being down to 10 men and us having dominated it was time to put all hands to the pump, get the forwards on, get Nemanja (Matic) playing centre-back, we only ended with one centre-back with Harry. Sometimes it doesn’t work as hoped, in training it looks great and on paper it looks great, they were really organised and they tired towards the end.”
Solskjaer also praised Odion Ighalo after the striker scored his fifth goal in four starts for the club.
“It was very important (to keep him at the club), that was important for me and we worked hard to do it, Odion knows how much we value him in and around the dressing room, he’s a goal scorer, a poacher, he’s strong, we can play the ball into him, he showed for the second and Paul (Pogba) found him,” Solskjaer said.
“He’s performing well but it also gives me the chance to rotate with Marcus (Rashford), Anthony and Mason (Greenwood) so they can get a rest and we’re fresh for every game.”