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‘Solskjaer got it really spot on' - Neville applauds Man Utd boss for tactical shift against Liverpool

8:35 PM GMT+8 21/10/2019
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Manchester United 2019-20
A former Red Devil has praised the under-fire Norwegian coach for a change in formation which helped the Red Devils frustrate their arch-rivals

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer set his Manchester United team up perfectly for Liverpool's visit to Old Trafford on Sunday, according to Phil Neville.

The Red Devils became the first team to take points from Jurgen Klopp's side in the Premier League this season, after a tense encounter which ended in a 1-1 draw.

Marcus Rashford finished off a superb Daniel James cross to give United a 36th-minute lead, which was no less than the home side deserved after an impressive start to the match.

Liverpool struggled to exert their usual control on proceedings until the last quarter of the game, when Solskjaer's men retreated deep into their own half and began to soak up pressure.

The Reds eventually found a breakthrough in the 85th minute, as substitute Adam Lallana swept home an Andrew Robertson cross after a lapse in concentration from Marcos Rojo.

Despite dropping another two points to slip to 13th in the Premier League table, United were much improved overall, utilising a new 3-4-1-2 formation to great effect.

And Neville felt Solskjaer got his tactics "spot-on", but singled Rojo out for criticism for his part in Liverpool's equaliser.

"Tactically, Ole got it really spot on," the England women's manager told Optus Sport.

"Five at the back, they defended the middle of the pitch really well, the three centre-backs, in particular, defended the goal really well, every cross that came in from wide areas they were set.

"Just that cross at the end when it gets fired across the box. Rojo just lost a little bit of concentration and it got punished.

"Liverpool did finish really strong and United will feel like that’s two points dropped."

Neville also expressed his belief that the "momentum" of the match began to swing after Liverpool's three substitutions, with Lallana, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita helping to inject extra "energy" into the visitors' line up.

The ex-United defender also questioned Solskjaer's decision not to bring Anthony Martial and Brandon Williams on until the dying minutes of the match, leaving them little to time to make an impact.

"The momentum did change. I thought the substitutions of Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lallana and Keita just gave them a bit of impetus in terms of energy and United didn’t make the substitutions," he added.

"They brought Martial on… I thought maybe just five or 10 minutes too late to change the momentum.

"You could see that United were camped in. I don’t know what Rojo was doing for the goal.

"He had no need to go ahead of the other centre-back, he stays in his slot and he picks up Lallana. But I thought it was an outstanding performance from United.

"Full of energy, they played a more direct style and at the end, the fans were dead because of the effort the players put in. They didn’t get their just rewards."

United are back in Europa League action away at Partizan Belgrade on Thursday, before taking in a trip to Norwich in the Premier League three days later.