Solskjaer explains substitution that led to Fernandes strop during Man Utd’s draw at Liverpool

Bruno Fernandes Liverpool vs Man Utd Premier League 2020-21
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The Red Devils boss opted to replace the Portuguese midfielder late on at Anfield, with that decision not going down too well with the player involved

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says his decision to replace Bruno Fernandes during Manchester United’s draw at Liverpool was a “tactical one” and he has no problem with the Portuguese airing his frustration at having to come off.

A talismanic presence for the Red Devils saw his number held up in the closing stages of a cagey clash at Anfield.

He was reluctant to head from the field, with an angry exchange of words taken in with Georginio Wijnaldum before both men were forced to head for the touchline.

Fernandes made his feelings known as he trudged off the pitch, with there plenty of theatrical arm-waving and murmuring under his breath before patting hands with his manager.

Solskjaer is reading little into a show of petulance, with no player wanting to make way, and sticks by his call to send Mason Greenwood on in pursuit of a late winner against the defending Premier League champions.

“It was a tactical decision,” the United boss told reporters on his late change.

“Bruno has been running his socks off for us in every single game since he came here. Running, more or less, every game.

“Towards the end, I felt Paul [Pogba's] physical presence in there might be a chance for us.

“Mason, you know if he gets a chance he can score in the blink of a second. But it was a throw of the dice to get Mason on, even though he had to defend against [Andy] Robertson.”

United ultimately drew a blank in a goalless encounter on Merseyside, but Solskjaer was pleased with the effort on show from his side and the experiment of putting Marcus Rashford back in a central striking berth.

The Norwegian added: “I wanted Marcus up top. Because of his pace. We just missed a few moments in both the first half and the second half to play that ball a little bit quicker or with a bit more quality.

“It was there that we could hurt them a bit because we knew about their problems at centre-back.”

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Solskjaer added on potential areas of improvement for the Premier League leaders: “We can be more composed, we can have the ball more, we had to defend really often and I thought we gave the ball away too often.

“Maybe some moments we missed, when Marcus makes his runs in behind – maybe sometimes we don’t pass it every time he runs and sometimes we missed it when he should have had it. So a couple of things that we need to improve on.”

United will be back in action on Wednesday when they put a 16-game unbeaten run away from home on the line against Fulham.