After a week filled with talk of the sack, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was vindicated on Saturday as Manchester United brushed Tottenham Hotspur aside by winning 3-0.
The Red Devils manager made a bold change of shape for the first time in 37 Premier League matches and set his team up in a 3-5-2 formation.
It saw goalscoring greats Edinson Cavani and Cristiano Ronaldo take the two roles up front – both of whom unsurprisingly netted – before Marcus Rashford came on as a substitute to wrap things up against a limp Spurs side.
But, despite the clean sheet and three points, Owen Hargreaves has sent Solskjaer a warning regarding his decision to switch systems.
The former Red Devils midfielder claims Rashford was “fuming” about being dropped due the 24-year-old, who celebrated his birthday on Sunday, being in good goalscoring form prior to the trip to Tottenham.
Rashford replaced Ronaldo in the 76th minute and tucked home in the dying embers on vintage Solskjaer breakaway.
But Hargreaves spotted something that could been seen as a concern for the United manager in the moment that the points were sealed.
“I think you could see that in his celebration, he [Rashford] was fuming,” the player-turned-pundit told Premier League Productions.
“But when two legends of the game are playing ahead of you it’s hard to complain in a sense.
“He’s never going to drop Ronaldo, he needed somebody else in there and Cavani was fabulous last season – he probably deserved to start sooner.
“Having Rashford and [Mason] Greenwood to come off the bench, as much as it will hurt them, maybe right now for the balance of the team.
“They looked good today and Rashford will get goals coming off the bench, definitely.”
Hargreaves’ mention of Greenwood, too, hints at the wider issue of starting just two forwards, with £73million signing Jadon Sancho and Anthony Martial also not featuring in the much-needed victory.
Instead, Solskjaer opted for a strike force with an average age of 35 to earn the Red Devils’ first Premier League win in four games, coming off the back of their 5-0 humiliation at the hands of Liverpool.
And the United boss believed it was the right time to bring in experienced heads, going against his usual approach in both recruitment and team selection, as Raphael Varane also returned to the starting XI.
“The experience came through. I was told that’s the oldest team I’ve picked for Man United and it was time for it – to put it that way, Solskjaer said to Sky Sports post-match.
“I’ve been here more or less three years now and Tuesday’s training performance from Edinson Cavani was probably the best performance anyone’s put in in a training performance.
“So the old men led from the front.”
It certainly worked in north London, but Solskjaer’s more conservative system will not only be tested by opponents in the coming weeks, but by his own players, too.