Gary Neville insists Manchester United’s defenders defied Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s instructions against West Bromwich Albion on Sunday afternoon.
West Brom stormed out of the traps and found the net within two minutes and Gary Neville couldn’t help but recall the pre-match message from Solskjaer.
On commentary duty for Sky Sports, Neville explained how Solskjaer planned to utilise a high line against West Brom but United’s defenders immediately dropped deep against the Baggies.
West Brom are off to a flying start! 🛫
Diagne puts the Baggies ahead within the first 90 seconds. In the words of @gnev2 he 'mauls' Lindelof!
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) February 14, 2021
After Mbaye Diagne headed home from a Conor Gallagher cross, Neville gave his assessment of United’s early defending.
“I watched Ole Gunnar Solskjaer talk about his defenders pushing up the pitch in his pre-match interview, well that was exactly the opposite,” Neville said.
“West Brom were always going to put pressure on the United defence and put the ball into the box as early as possible.
“They don’t shift – (Victor) Lindelof, (Harry) Maguire – I said it two or three weeks ago, if you don’t shift the two or three yards when the ball goes back then you’re going to end up on top of your goalkeeper.
“It’s a brilliant ball in, Diagne attacks it really well and he mauls Lindelof and heads it brilliantly past De Gea.”
Some felt that Diagne fouled Lindelof as he positioned himself to head past De Gea as the West Brom centre-forward appeared to put his hands in the face of Lindelof.
Maguire hit out at suggestions that Lindelof should have dealt with Diagne’s aerial threat, with the United captain adamant that the visitors should have been given a free-kick.
“It’s a big frustration,” Maguire said. “We know the first goal is crucial when you come to this place. But it’s a foul. I’m fed up of hearing ‘Vic can do better’. Of course he can do better, and I know he can.
“But I’m fed up of hearing ‘people can do better’. ‘David can do better on the cross’. It’s a foul. It’s a foul from Billy Sharp on David [in the recent Sheffield United game].
“If you get someone in the back, and if the big striker’s wrestling Vic and then puts his arms all over him, heads it in the back of the net, of course he can do better, but it’s a foul.”