Manchester United coasted their way into the FA Cup fifth round with a comprehensive 6-0 win away at Tranmere Rovers on Sunday.
Having been under pressure throughout the opening ten minutes, United got their noses in front in spectacular fashion as Harry Maguire took his time on the edge of the box to unleash a thunderous effort into the top corner to stun the hosts.
Tranmere barely had time to recover as Diogo Dalot doubled the lead with a sumptuous solo effort, before Jesse Lingard curled a fine effort into the far corner to put the hosts three up after 17 minutes. They
Starting XI: Davies (4); Caprice (4), Clarke (5), Monthe (5), Ridehalgh (3); Danns (4), Perkins (4), Morris (5), Jennings (4), Blackett-Taylor (7*); Ferrier (6)
Substitutes: Gilmour (5), Mullin (4), Hepburn-Murphy (6)
Key Talking Point
A strong lineup against a struggling League One outfit? It’s fair to say it was a bold move from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to field a near-full strength side, but one that ultimately paid off.
One thing it clearly does demonstrate is that the FA Cup is high on his list of priorities this season. There is still a Carabao Cup semi-final second leg to contend with – despite that looking beyond their reach – while a top four spot and Europa League success remain in their sights. However, while a return to the Champions League is imperative, the FA Cup must be seen as an important target in order to appease their disgruntled fans.
Solskjaer seems to agree with that, and being so comfortably in front allowed him to make early substitutions and rest key players. On the day it was a performance in which everything United did seemed to come off, whether it was shots from distance or cross-field passes. Barring the opening ten minutes they were in cruise control, and the manner with which they coasted their way through the second half will have been hugely pleasing.
5 – Manchester United have netted five goals in the first half of a game for the first time since February 2001 (6-1 v Arsenal) – current manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær scored the fifth goal for the Red Devils that day. Update. https://t.co/Cx4BcYeHAH
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 26, 2020
There were genuine fears ahead of kick off that an upset could be on the cards, but as soon as the first goal went in the confidence permeated throughout the team, and they’ll likely not have an easier game all season.
Starting XI: Romero (7); Lindelof (7), Maguire (8*), Jones (7); Shaw (8), Matic (8), Pereira (7), Dalot (7); Lingard (8), Greenwood (8), Martial (7).
Substitutes: Chong (7), Fred (7), Williams (7).
The world’s most expensive defender has come under plenty of criticism this season for some under-par performances, but all it all seemed to come together on Sunday.
Granted, Tranmere are nowhere near top flight level, but every time Harry Maguire carried the ball out from defence he looked assured and confident, finding the attacking players in the pockets and starting attacks from deep. Not to mention, he scored a screamer himself in one of his better matches this season. Yes, it was against League One opposition, but you’ve still got to perform, and he did.
Maguire’s passing has being good today. Seems like this pitch suits him more
— GGiiiiJ (@gonen88) January 26, 2020
Maguire has done very well and been pushed up with the wing backs to be fair, very attacking but I just didn’t think he should of been risked, can admit when I’m wrong
— Bradley (@MUFCBradleyP) January 26, 2020
Playing well. Given loads of time on the ball in midfield. Maguire bossing the place. City aren’t giving them these kind of spaces
— Pete Chapman (@kangenwelluk) January 26, 2020
Tranmere are at home to promotion chasing Sunderland on Wednesday, hoping to avoid relegation themselves with crucial points needed in League One. For United, they’re back in cup action in midweek as they take on Manchester City in the second leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final.