Solskjaer encouraged by improving Man Utd after Europa League rout
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes his players demonstrated signs of their ongoing improvement after an emphatic Europa League victory over Club Brugge.
The Red Devils booked their place in the last 16 of the competition with a 5-0 second-leg win over 10-man Brugge at Old Trafford to progress 6-1 on aggregate.
A Fred brace and goals from Bruno Fernandes, Odion Ighalo and Scott McTominay inspired United on Thursday, although Brugge played most of the game with 10 men after Simon Deli was sent off for deliberate handball.
Nevertheless, Solskjaer was pleased to see United head into Friday's draw on the back of a comprehensive victory with several impressive individual displays.
"I think there are loads of players out there who have improved," Solskjaer said in his post-match media conference after United extended their unbeaten run to seven matches across all competitions.
"Scott McTominay is back and I think he’s improved. Fred, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be alive for the next time he was going to score!
"Fred's had so many attempts. One with his right and one with his left. It’s been an on-going joke between us, of course, but he got those goals and I’m very pleased for him.
"Obviously, we're in a moment now that we rotate a bit, players are getting games. But when you score goals and you play like this, you're going to get more confidence.
"When we got 1-0 and they had a man sent off it helps, but you're still playing against players in and around the box, our imagination there was good."
Solskjaer praised the willingness of Ighalo after the Nigeria striker – on loan from Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua – scored his first goal for United on his full debut.
He added: "I think, as a fellow striker myself, I know important that first goal is and he’s been close a couple of times.
"You can see he sniffs goals, he wants to be there, where it sometimes hurts.
"That goal, he was sharp in his head and, as that ball is played over to Juan, he spins and was on the six-yard line when Juan puts it there. That’s a natural striker."
Brugge goalkeeper Simon Mignolet said Deli's sending off made United's task significantly less taxing.
"United deserved to go through," he said. "It was a little easier for them after the red card, but we can have no complaints with the result."