Ole: Reds need a rapid start on Saturday
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has urged his Manchester United players to bare their teeth from the first whistle, starting with Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off against Aston Villa in the Premier League.
The Reds have not scored in the first 10 minutes of any game in the League, Champions League or Carabao Cup so far this season.
In the league, it has taken United at least half an hour to find the net.
In the season opener at home to Leeds, Bruno Fernandes scored after 30 minutes to set down a marker for the eventual 5-1 win. And although the goals flowed again when Newcastle United visited Old Trafford, it wasn’t until injury time in the first half that Cristiano Ronaldo famously marked his return with the opener.
Mason Greenwood, who almost scored with his first touch as a substitute in our midweek defeat to West Ham, has three goals to his name this season and all of those have come in the second half, including a 55th-minute equaliser at Southampton and 80th-minute winner against Wolves at Molineux.
At West Ham last Sunday, Solskjaer’s side were 1-0 down before Ronaldo equalised after 35 minutes.
Only against Young Boys did United grab an early goal, with Cristiano scoring after 13 minutes, although that was ultimately overturned as the Swiss side won 2-1 in the Champions League group opener.
Against West Ham in the cup tie, the Reds started coldly and were behind after nine minutes to what proved to be the winner by Manuel Lanzini.
It is a sluggish opening trait that the manager wants to eradicate. He feels United need to sprint out of the blocks to gain the best platform for success, as highlighted by the cup defeat.
"The first 10 minutes we were slow, pedestrian both in possession and out of possession," the manager told a press conference, following the defeat by the Hammers.
"That is something we have to address and we do address. I wasn’t very pleased with the start at all, no. The response was great again but we can’t find ourselves in these situations and expect to get the wins that we have done, fantastically in the last year and a half.
"We need to start games better."
There can certainly be no complaints about the crowd being right behind the team from kick-off. Against West Ham, the stadium was rocking, with over 72,000 fans in attendance. The Theatre of Dreams has been an electric HQ since fans returned fully after the pandemic restrictions were lifted.
Their support for the Hammers game was certainly recognised by Reds right-back Diogo Dalot.
"We tried our best but unfortunately it wasn’t enough tonight," the Portuguese tweeted after the match. "Thank you to the fans for your massive support as always. We’ll keep working hard for what’s coming."
The Reds will certainly get that vocal support again when Dean Smith's Villa side visit Old Trafford on Saturday, and Ole will hope his players can capitalise on that quickly.