Bruno Fernandes’ positioning has been highlighted after he provided an assist in Manchester United’s 3-2 win over Atalanta in the Champions League on Wednesday night
United came from 2-0 down at half-time to beat the Italian side 3-2 at Old Trafford in the Champions League on Wednesday night.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer ’s side looked disjointed in the first half as Mario Pasalic’s close-range finish from a low cross and Merih Demiral’s header from a corner put Atalanta 2-0 up.
But they fought back well after the break, with Fernandes sending Marcus Rashford through to score before Harry Maguire smashed in an equaliser at the back post.
The hosts secured the victory when Cristiano Ronaldo powered in a header from Luke Shaw’s cross in the 81st minute.
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It was a crucial victory for Solskjaer, who had been under mounting pressure following the 4-2 loss to Leicester, and Crouch believes the United manager deserves credit for his half-time alterations.
“When Bruno attached himself to the midfield it was a much better plan,” the former Liverpool striker said on BT Sport.
“He was one of the [front] four in the first half, left to his devices. The way they got into the game was an unbelievable pass into Rashford and I much prefer him in that deeper role more connected to the midfield.”
Fernandes played high up the pitch in the first half, with the United formation closer to a 4-2-4 than the expected 4-2-3-1.
That left a big gap in the centre of the pitch and exposed holding midfielders Fred and Scott McTominay to the Atalanta counter-attack.
The Portuguese playmaker was positioned further back after the break and provided a brilliant outside-of-the-boot pass for Rashford to make it 2-1.
Does Ole Gunnar Solskjaer deserve credit for his in-game management against Atalanta? Have your say in the comments section below.
While Crouch was complimentary of Solskjaer’s in-game management, former United midfielder Paul Scholes was more critical of the Norwegian.
Solskjaer insisted his side “played well in the first half” despite the scoreline, but Scholes admitted he was worried by what he saw.
“Ole was emotional, but the shape was all wrong in the first half and I thought they had too many chances and, to be fair when a team is getting beat 2-0 at half-time at home I wouldn’t say the performance could be that good,” he said.
“Like I said, he’s emotional. He’s just won a game but I didn’t like the first half and it’s worried me.”
United host Liverpool in the Premier League on Sunday and Scholes thinks a big improvement is needed from his former side.
“If we play like that against a proper team it’ll be disastrous,” he said. “He (Solskjaer) said before the game 4-2-4 and it was exactly what it was.
“If they play like that they’ll get destroyed. There was no connect between the team. Fred gets pushed out and McTominay didn’t know where to go. If that happened could you imagine Kevin De Bruyne playing against that?”