Cardiff City 1-5 Manchester United: 5 Talking Points and Tactical Analysis | Premier League 2018-19
For the first time since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson, the Red Devils struck five goals in a match, courtesy Marcus Rashford, Ander Herrera, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard (2).
Moreover, the away supporters were lifted by the positive approach followed by their players. There was more energy, pace and purpose in the way Pogba and co. applied themselves. There is a long way to go for the club after having seen such a dark phase of late, but the first step of this new era was certainly a very bright one.
On that note, let's take a look at the major talking points from Manchester United's 5-1 rout at Cardiff City.
#1 Ole names his first playing XI
Ole Gunnar Solskjær named his first playing XI as Manchester United boss, and the structure and personnel he charted out only underlined pace, pace and pace. His 4-3-3 setup was very different from that of Mourinho's and arguably, to any other manager's three-man midfield or attack.
Starting at the back, Ashley Young was occasionally asked to surge forward. On the other side, Shaw was constantly seen drifting infield, allowing Martial to operate from his favored wider positions and bombarding crosses into the box. The left-back definitely thrived on the freedom.
Speaking of freedom and liberty, Paul Pogba's role simply cannot go unmentioned. In the three-man midfield, Nemanja Matic was asked to play in a very deep position. Either the shape shifted to a 4-1-2-3 or at times, a 5-2-3 - with Matic almost playing as a center-half in order to allow Jones to commit to challenges.
While Matic foiled the defence and hit sweeping passes, Pogba and Herrera plied their trade from positions closer to the forwards. The Frenchman worked down the left, while the latter was on the middle/right side of the pitch. What was interesting to see was how freely they were allowed to move and tackle or create chances.
Usually, a free role is given to wingers, but Ole granted it to two of his midfielders.
Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard completed a pacy attack. The former played centrally and worked as a focal point at times. Together, they were simply menacing.