MAN UNITED 0, WEST HAM 1
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scored an own goal as Manchester United exited the Carabao Cup following a home defeat by West Ham.
The Reds’ manager admitted pre-match it was a “risk” making 11 changes from Sunday’s Premier League win at the Hammers.
Solskjaer’s reasoning was squad players needed to get match fit in readiness for a long season. But on the evidence of this display, there were few players whose performances merited promotion.
“If you are going to be successful at the end, you need the whole squad and minutes to be shared out,” he said.
But their hopes of a first piece of silverware in the current campaign ended as David Moyes made a triumphant return.
It was the first time Moyes had beaten United since his sacking seven years ago and it was also the Hammers’ first win at Old Trafford in 18 attempts, their previous success coming in 2007.
It was a frustrating night for the Reds who had 27 goal attempts to the Hammers’ nine, but they failed to find a route to goal as their cutting edge was decidedly blunt.Embed from Getty Images
Not even the introduction of Mason Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes and Anthony Elanga in the latter stages was able to turn the tide United’s way.
“Mason made a positive impact. He was fresh and sharp, but it was too little, too late,” said Solskjaer.
Indeed, the Hammers had three gilt-edged chances late in the game to win by a more comprehensive margin.
“In the last six or seven minutes we had to go gung-ho and West Ham could have scored more,” admitted Solskjaer.
The Reds’ manager thought his side ought to have had a penalty following Mark Noble foul on Jesse Lingard.
“You cannot pull the shirt and shorts on the way down as Mark Noble did when he was falling,” he said.
Solskjaer was unhappy with his side’s “pedestrian” opening.
“It was a poor start but, when we decided to join the game, we had lots of shots and a lot of pressure, but there was definitely something lacking, a cutting edge,” he said.
“I cannot fault the attitude but maybe we were lacking a bit of good fortune, quality and decisions which we are not getting at the moment.”
The two sides met again three days after the dramatic Premier League game which United won 2-1.
It was a completely different team for United from the one that won at London Stadium.
Dean Henderson, who had recovered from Long Covid, returned in goal and there were rare starts for Eric Bailly, Diogo Dalot, Alex Telles and Donny van de Beek.
Phil Jones returned to the squad for the first time in 20 months and the defender said he has “been through hell and back over the last couple of years” after struggling with injury and lockdown.
Jones, 29, missed the entirety of last season with a knee issue and last played for United’s first team in January 2020.
He is now returning to fitness and completed two 90-minute games for the U23s in as many weeks.
Moyes made 10 changes from Sunday’s defeat to the Reds, Jarrod Bowen the only survivor.
Noble, who missed the injury-time penalty after coming on, was handed a start and there were Hammers’ debuts for goalkeeper Alphonse Areola and Czech midfielder Alex Kral.
The Hammers made a lively start as Bowen fired wide and Kral had a goalbound shot blocked by Bailly before they took a ninth minute lead.
Ryan Fredericks dribbled his way to the by-line and cut the ball back for Lanzini to sweep home.
The goal jolted United into action and the Hammers had an escape when United had a penalty appeal rejected. Replays showed Noble cleared pulled Lingard’s shirt and short.
Juan Mata struck the bar with an angled shot, Anthony Martial poked a shot narrowly wide after being set up by Nemanja Matic and Lingard forced Areola to turn his shot round the post for a corner.
Telles, Martial and van de Beek all fired wide as United kept probing in search of an equaliser, but they lacked a cutting edge.
Jadon Sancho had a chance for United early in the second, but his audacious chip narrowly cleared the crossbar. Dalot then shot wide as the Reds just could not find a route to goal.
After an hour, Solskjaer made his first change as Mata was replaced by Mason Greenwood who almost struck immediately as he had a low shot blocked by the legs of Areola.
That was soon followed by two further United substitutions as Lingard and Telles made way for Bruno Fernandes and Anthony Elanga.
Greenwood and Fernandes livened United offensive, but still an equalising goal proved elusive.
United were forced to throw caution to the wind late on and, with players pushed forward, they left themselves open at the back.
And three times in as many minutes, the Hammers had the chance to seal victory.
Andriy Yarmolenko raced clear onto a punt forward and rounded Henderson only to somehow hit the upright when he looked certain to score.
This was followed by Henderson making big saves to deny Mark Noble and Bowen as United lived dangerously.