Cristiano Ronaldo came to Manchester United's rescue yet again on Tuesday, with a brilliant volley sealing a 2-2 draw with Atalanta.

It was Ronaldo's second goal of the game, and his fifth in the Champions League this season. Three of those goals have come after the 80th minute.

While United have struggled since Ronaldo arrived back at Old Trafford, there is no doubting his quality and ability to stand tall in decisive moments – something that has arguably saved Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's job after a difficult start to the campaign.

Ronaldo's stunning volley set United on their way to a 3-0 win over Tottenham last time out in the Premier League, with the 36-year-old then turning provider for Edinson Cavani.

United's 3-5-2 set-up negated Spurs, albeit the Red Devils face an altogether different task when they host neighbours Manchester City in Saturday's early kick-off.

Solskjaer might have bought himself time, but United have a tendency to drag their manager back from the brink. He has a good record against City, but given United's last home game saw them lose 5-0 to Liverpool, Solskjaer may well not survive another drubbing.

 

Milestone coming up for Ronaldo

United's defensive frailties were exposed again by Atalanta and if not for Ronaldo's lethal finishing, their Champions League progress would have been in significant doubt.

Ronaldo is now on 798 goals, scoring that total from 1,088 matches. The majority (450) came during his nine-year stint at Real Madrid, while he has netted 127 for United, a further 115 for Portugal, 101 at Juventus and five while at Sporting CP.

He has not scored many times against City, however, managing four goals in 13 appearances, with 11 of those coming as starts. His record in terms of wins is better, with Ronaldo tasting victory eight times against the Citizens, suffering three defeats.

When going up against sides coached by Pep Guardiola, Ronaldo has scored eight goals across 16 appearances.

It was not until the fifth game against a Guardiola team that Ronaldo found the net (in April 2011 in a Clasico draw), while he has only scored more than once in such a game on one occasion.

This was, however, in his last appearance against one of Guardiola's sides, which came way back in 2013-14 as he scored twice in Madrid's Champions League semi-final win over Bayern Munich.

A quick turnaround 

"If it was tomorrow, we would play tomorrow," Guardiola said after the 4-1 home win over Club Brugge on Wednesday, which finished approximately 63 hours before City and United are due to take to the pitch on Saturday.

"The schedule is the schedule, sometimes we play Tuesday, sometimes Friday. Sometimes it is 12:30 or sometimes 5:30pm. I am pretty sure at 12:30 on Saturday we will be at Old Trafford. When you are Manchester City you realise nobody helps you – no one."

Guardiola, like Liverpool counterpart Jurgen Klopp has been on many occasions, will likely be fairly irked by the swift turnaround his players face, though it has to be pointed out there will at least be no notable travelling involved for City's stars.

History is also on City's side. Of the 11 times they have played at 12:30 on a Saturday following a Wednesday Champions League match under Guardiola, they have won eight, drawn two and lost just once.

That sole defeat came last season, when Leeds United ran out 2-1 victors at the Etihad Stadium in April.

Does Solskjaer have the edge?

Despite his struggles, Solskjaer can have some confidence heading into Saturday's match based on his own promising record against City and Guardiola.

Solskjaer has lost just one of his five league derbies, winning three of them. The Norwegian has often deployed a counter-attacking set-up in these matches, and has enjoyed success with the likes of Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard picking apart City on the break.

As opposed to the hap-hazard pressing approach deployed in the Liverpool thrashing, Solskjaer reverted to counter-attacking against Spurs, with excellent results. United did press, but kept their shape while doing so, and were happy to surrender the possession to Nuno Espirito Santo's team, seeing just 41.8 per cent of the ball, but managing more shots (10 to nine).

It would seem almost certain that Solskjaer looks to utilise a similar set-up against City, who had 67.6 per cent of the possession and managed 14 attempts in a frustrating 2-0 home defeat to Crystal Palace last week.

United have averaged two goals per game in the league derbies that Solskjaer has taken charge of, conceding just three times in total across the five fixtures. It is a tactic that has proven its worth.

However, it is a risky one. In their seven meetings in all competitions since the start of the 2019-20 season, United have recorded expected goals (xG) values of below 1.0 in all but three games.

A similar lack of cutting edge on Saturday, combined with the type of defending that has left United so vulnerable at the back, could prove Solskjaer's downfall.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer compared Cristiano Ronaldo to NBA great Michael Jordan after the forward single-handedly dragged Manchester United to a 2-2 draw against Atalanta.

Ronaldo twice inspired United to come from behind, cancelling out strikes from Josep Ilicic and then Duvan Zapata as the Red Devils earned a 2-2 draw.

The Portugal international's brace prevented United from falling to a fourth successive away defeat in the European Cup/Champions League for the first time ever and keeps his side top of their group, level with Villarreal and two points better off than Tuesday's opponents.

Ronaldo also became the second-oldest player to have netted a Champions League double after Filippo Inzaghi (37 years and 86 days) in November 2010, and Solskjaer likened his forward's impact to that of former Chicago Bulls superstar Jordan.

"We all have our roles and responsibilities," Solskjaer told reporters at his post-match news conference. "Cristiano is a leader in the group, but that's what he does: he scores goals.

"We're not happy conceding two goals. Both of them are very, very fine margins. The first one I think should be off, the second one is a centimetre onside, probably. He's maybe offside last season, it's fine margins.

"But he does provide those moments. I'm sure Chicago Bulls didn't mind having Michael Jordan either.

"Sometimes the teams have the players they have, and that's why they are at Man United and why they are champions at Chicago Bulls – you come up with those moments."

United have won just three of their past nine games in all competitions, leaving pressure on the under-fire Solskjaer, but the former Red Devils star hailed the support his side continues to receive.

"It's a great feeling, that support for the team and for me personally. It makes you humble," Solskjaer continued.

"They know that all we want is for the team and the club to do well, of course we want to do our best, and I've appreciated the support recently."

Jadon Sancho, whose opportunities have been limited since joining from Borussia Dortmund in the close season, featured as a second-half substitute, and Solskjaer was satisfied with the England international's performance.

"I commit a crime every time I pick a team," he said. "There are always players that get left out. Against Tottenham, it was a different system, here again it was another different system.

"Jadon has got a fantastic attitude, the quality he has, and he was really sharp when he came on – the first header he cleared, and then he was really good on the ball.

"He's got a really big role to play for us for many years as a good player."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer praised the "incredible" influence of Cristiano Ronaldo after the superstar forward struck twice – including another late goal – to once again rescue Manchester United in the Champions League.

Ronaldo cancelled out strikes from Josip Ilicic and then Duvan Zapata in added time at the end of each half as United twice recovered from behind to draw 2-2 with Atalanta on Tuesday.

The first goal rounded off a slick passing move that also involved substitute Mason Greenwood and Bruno Fernandes, while the second was a perfectly executed volley from range that flew away from Atalanta goalkeeper Juan Musso.

Ronaldo has now scored in all four of United's Group F fixtures, having also netted a 95th-minute winner against Villarreal and an 81st-minute winner in last month's 3-2 win against Atalanta in the reverse fixture.

The Portugal international's latest brace prevented United from falling to a fourth successive away defeat in the European Cup/Champions League for the first time ever and keeps his side top of their group, level with Villarreal and two points better off than Atalanta.

Reflecting on the competition's record all-time scorer's match-winning display, Solskjaer told BT Sport: "Cristiano is just incredible. That's what he does. If there's any chance you want to fall to in the last minute, and a difficult chance, then it's him.

"He keeps his eye on the ball and his technique on that volley is incredible. That's football. No one can question the character of these players as they didn't give up, they don't give in and they keep going.

"We had to make a few changes and they worked. The first goal was a proper team goal with great quality in the passing and that was the first moment that we played the football that we should do."

Atalanta's opening goal was awarded after a VAR check for a possible offside infringement against Mario Pasalic, who was stood near David de Gea when the goalkeeper somehow let Ilicic's drive squirm through his grasp.

Zapata's strike was initially ruled out for offside, meanwhile, only for the officials to correctly adjudge the forward was onside following a VAR check lasting two minutes.

Atalanta outperformed their opponents 1.55 to 1.04 in terms of expected goals value, but Solskjaer is pleased with the way his side refused to give up in the eventful draw at Gewiss Stadium.

"Sometimes, you don't plan to concede a goal and we're at a difficult place," Solskjaer added. "The atmosphere was electric and they're a very physical and aggressive side. The character was spot on again. They kept going.

"It was a tight game, flaws both ways. Their two goals are very tight to being offside. I feel for the first, it's very close to a player interfering with David's view, and for the second it's very close."

United were already without defender Victor Lindelof, who sustained a knock in training this week, and lost centre-back Raphael Varane – making his second start since returning from a three-game lay-off – to injury shortly before half-time against Atalanta.

Providing an update on the France international ahead of Saturday's Premier League derby showdown with neighbours Manchester City, Solskjaer said: "He felt his hamstring and that of course you can't take any risks with. 

"Rapha has been such a calming influence when he's on the pitch and we lost him so that's football."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer urged his critics to keep targeting him because he is fuelled by the flak that has come his way since Manchester United's 5-0 defeat to Liverpool.

A Mohamed Salah hat-trick inspired Jurgen Klopp's men to their biggest ever winning margin at Old Trafford on October 24, with United losing by at least five goals without scoring at home for the first time since 1955.

It was a humiliating day for United, and Solskjaer looked as though he was going to pay the price, but Alex Ferguson reportedly played a major role in buying the Norwegian time to turn things around following a four-game winless run in the league.

United followed that defeat up with a comprehensive win at Tottenham on Saturday, Solskjaer's decisions to switch to a back three and deploy a strike partnership of Edinson Cavani and Cristiano Ronaldo paying dividends – they kept a clean sheet and the two forwards each scored a goal.

That defeat ended up costing Spurs boss Nuno Espirito Santo his job as it eased the heat slightly on Solskjaer, but with a Champions League trip to Atalanta to be followed by the Manchester derby, he is only another disappointing result away from being under intense pressure again.

But he says the criticism that comes with such pressure is what keeps him on his toes.

"Criticism can make you doubt yourself or you can stand up for yourself," he told reporters ahead of the clash with Atalanta.

"I've always enjoyed criticism, keep it coming. Journalists, pundits – we've all got different jobs and it's their job to give their opinion. I am not here to fight with them, I don't need a spat with them."

Despite the excellent response against Tottenham, Solskjaer is not getting carried away about United's situation.

"The next one is the one that matters and we've been looking, working together for consistency and when we get that we'll get consistent results. One swallow doesn't make a summer.

"We will keep focusing on what we did well. [The schedule] is relentless. It is a chance tomorrow to prove we can go again."

Bruno Fernandes, sat alongside Solskjaer, was asked about the slightly different role he was asked to play on Saturday, as he featured behind two strikers rather than a lone frontman who was flanked by two wingers.

The Portugal international had a fine performance individually, playing three key passes – including a wonderful assist for Ronaldo's stunning volley – and also had a major role in Cavani's well-worked goal as he robbed Oliver Skipp in the build-up.

But as long as he is able to supply the frontline, he is not bothered who Solskjaer picks in attack.

"I think, honestly, we have such good quality, not just them [Cavani and Ronaldo]," he said. "They scored so take a big part of the result, but honestly I think the quality we have makes it easy to play behind any striker and serve them. All of them can score goals. They're all different but can all score goals many times and from any place on the pitch.

"We have many talents in this team – Edi, Cristiano, Anthony [Martial], Marcus [Rashford], Jadon [Sancho] – it doesn't matter who plays. I know I'm there to try to serve them and make them happy."

United – who had to come back from 2-0 down to beat Atalanta in their last Champions League outing – are aiming to avoid losing four consecutive away games in Europe's elite competition or its predecessor the European Cup.

What does the future hold for Paul Pogba?

Pogba, who re-joined Manchester United from Juventus in 2016, is set to become a free agent at season's end.

Juve are believed to be trying to lure Pogba back to Italy.

 

TOP STORY – JUVE LEAD RACE FOR POGBA

Juventus are in pole position to re-sign Paul Pogba from Manchester United, according to Sportitalia journalist Rudy Galetti.

Pogba is out of contract at the end of the season and is reportedly not prepared to sign a new contract with United.

The World Cup-winning France international left United for Juventus in 2012 before returning to Old Trafford in 2016.

Le10 Sport, meanwhile, claims Paris Saint-Germain are circling amid interest from Real Madrid also.

 

ROUND-UP

- Diario AS reports Xavi wants to sign Bayern Munich star Kingsley Coman if he is appointed head coach of LaLiga giants Barcelona . Barca great and Al-Sadd boss Xavi is favourite to replace Ronald Koeman.

Theo Hernandez is set to snub a move to Premier League champions Manchester City or Ligue 1 powerhouse PSG in favour of re-signing with Milan, per Calciomercato.

- The Mirror says Newcastle United are struggling to prise Ajax head coach Erik ten Hag from Amsterdam. Also linked to Manchester United amid pressure on manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer , Ten Hag is reluctant to move to Newcastle due to their position in the table.

Inter have planned talks with Marcelo Brozovic regarding a new contract amid interest from PSG , Manchester United , Barca and Atletico Madrid , according to Corriere dello Sport.

Cristiano Ronaldo hailed an "unbelievable" Manchester United performance as they delivered for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in a thumping 3-0 win at Tottenham.

While Spurs now clearly have their own problems, United eased the pressure on their Norwegian manager with a resounding result in London.

A tremendous volley from Ronaldo put United in front after 39 minutes, and the 36-year-old played in Edinson Cavani to dink home the visitors' second just after the hour, with substitute Marcus Rashford adding a late third.

It gave United their biggest away league win against Tottenham since February 2007, when they won 4-0 at White Hart Lane. Coincidentally, Ronaldo gave United the lead in that game too, during his first spell at the club.

Last weekend's 5-0 home defeat to Liverpool left United at a low ebb, but this was a marked improvement, with Solskjaer picking three centre-backs and seeing the tactical shift bring about a sturdier display.

Ronaldo told Sky Sports: "We knew before the game that we had a tough week. We had results we didn't really expect. The team was a little bit under pressure, a little bit sad, but we knew that today we would give a good answer. We played good, we started the game really well.

"My job is to help the team with my experience, with goals, with assists, and I did that today. In terms of the team, it was an unbelievable performance in my opinion."

United had taken just one point from their previous four games in the Premier League, and a title challenge has begun to look unlikely even at this early stage of the campaign. Talk of Solskjaer being at risk of losing his job has ramped up, to the point that the Tottenham game looked like a must-win fixture.

"It was tough; we didn't expect the last results in the Premier League. But I hope this time we changed the page," Ronaldo said.

"It is not only the coach, that many people point out – it is the players as well. I believe that some things happen for a reason, and we have to be happy for this amazing afternoon.

"We won 3-0 in an away stadium against a difficult team, and we are so pleased for that and happy. Not only for the coach, for the club, for the players, it's normal. The club is so big and the criticism is always there."

Ronaldo had just three touches in the Tottenham penalty area, Opta match data showed, but he made the best of the half-chance that came his way from a raking ball by Bruno Fernandes.

When it comes to reaction to a team's results, Ronaldo feels he has seen it all. Since the early days of his first stint at United, and through his time at Real Madrid and Juventus subsequently, his performances and those of his teams have always come in for the closest scrutiny.

That will not change because of this outcome, given United have a crunch midweek assignment against Atalanta in the Champions League, followed by next weekend's derby against Manchester City.

"For me, it is not bothering me because I've played 18 years of football," he said. "I know [the perception is that] one day is perfect and another day we are c**p. I know that, and we have to deal with that.

"But it's always better when the people praise you and are happy with you, and you win. Sometimes you have to pass through bad moments, and we have to change, and we changed today."

Edinson Cavani set the tone for Manchester United's response to humiliation at the hands of Liverpool by producing the best training performance Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has seen in his three years as manager.

United were crushed 5-0 at home by Liverpool last Sunday, a defeat that for a time looked to have cost Solskjaer his job.

The Norwegian was given more time by the club's hierarchy and United responded well on Saturday, beating Tottenham 3-0 on the road in what was the Red Devils' biggest away win over Spurs since February 2007 (4-0).

Solskjaer switched to a back three and partnered Cavani up front with Cristiano Ronaldo, both of whom found the net. Their combination for the Uruguayan's strike was the first time two players aged 34 or older linked up for a Premier League goal for United since Paul Scholes set up Ryan Giggs in August 2010.

The average age of United's starting XI (28 years, 325 days) was the oldest Solskjaer has named for the club in the Premier League, but it did the trick, and he was glowing in his appraisal of the two experienced strikers afterwards.

Asked if it was a conscious decision to turn to experience, Solskjaer told Sky Sports: "I've been here more or less three years as manager and Tuesday's training performance by Edinson Cavani was probably the best anyone's put in here, so the old men led from the front.

"They play well together, they have loads of respect for each other. Of course, we have loads of talented players, and to learn from those two, they've got to learn as quickly as they can because these two, the work rate they put in, the quality they put in is second to none."

The victory will have eased the pressure on Solskjaer somewhat, though he did not see it as an example of the players specifically playing for him.

"They'll play for the club no matter what, this is not about me," he continued. "As I said before the game, it's about us improving as a group and if anyone doesn't give everything for Man United, they won't play, it's as easy as that."

United have not been strangers to playing three at the back under Solskjaer. While results in the past have been mixed when deploying such a set-up, he felt it was important to use it on this occasion to ensure greater defensive stability.

Asked why he went for a back three, Solskjaer said: "Solidity. We got experience together, with Cristiano and Edi; we got more control and we probably got a man-of-the-match performance from Scott McTominay.

"For me, he was unplayable. I thought they all played really well, and of course we had the experience of Raphael Varane to put in the middle of the defence. It helped."

A dire defeat against Liverpool proved to be fatal for Jose Mourinho at Manchester United in 2018, but an even more humiliating loss to the Reds didn't – somehow – spell the end for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and he continues to cling on.

That's not to say it was a comfortable week for Solskjaer after that 5-0 annihilation at Old Trafford – if you believe the speculation, he probably wouldn't have been in charge for Saturday's trip to Tottenham were it not for Alex Ferguson coming into bat for his former player in the boardroom.

Solskjaer was afforded time, how much we can't be sure, but it was enough to at least prevent United suffering three successive league defeats for the first time since December 1961, with the Red Devils so effective and clinical in a 3-0 victory that subsequently heaped the pressure on opposite number Nuno Espirito Santo.

Perhaps we should've seen it coming? "Lads, it's Tottenham."

There were a couple of major surprises when Solskjaer's team was announced: firstly, that he was making just two alterations to the side that was humiliated last weekend, and secondly, they were switching to a back three.

While United have played such a system numerous times under Solskjaer before, it's difficult to say that setup has been consistently effective for them, with results ranging from 2-0 wins over Manchester City and Chelsea, to 3-1 and 3-2 defeats to the Blues and RB Leipzig.

But it allowed United to address a couple of key issues from the Liverpool defeat – their defensive frailty and a lack of pressing from the frontline.

After all, precious few of United's pressures against Liverpool came in the opposing half. Edinson Cavani's presence alongside Cristiano Ronaldo at least alleviated that to a certain degree, and it might have paid off early on when the Uruguayan managed to get a tackle in on the dawdling Japhet Tanganga, only for Spurs to be let off the hook by a kind ricochet.

Nevertheless, United's start provided indications of how the opening 45 minutes was going to play out for them, with wing-backs Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka pushing high to good effect and the midfield trio taking it in turns to support Cavani and Ronaldo.

There was a sense that Solskjaer's decision to go with a back three was down to a lack of trust in his team off the ball, which would have been fair on the evidence of last week, but generally the switch worked well for United as Spurs struggled to impose themselves in the first half.

While they managed seven shots and had a goal disallowed for offside, none of those efforts were on target, with Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof and Raphael Varane – absent last week – working well in tandem.

That extra protection at the back allowed for the United midfield to be more aggressive as well, both on and off the ball. Between them, Scott McTominay and Fred combined for seven tackle attempts in the first half, while both routinely helped on the attack – the Scotland international making the run and pass for Ronaldo's own disallowed strike, as an example.

Of course, having a finisher of the standard of Ronaldo in attack is always a bonus and his wonderful volley proved that point perfectly, as he lashed into the far corner from a tight angle as he latched on to Bruno Fernandes' lobbed pass in the 39th minute.

That goal meant Nuno's men had to become a greater threat after the break, and to their credit, Spurs' possession had increased to 59.6 per cent for the second half up to the 70th minute, but United's back three continued to provide a solid foundation – in the same time period, the hosts had just one shot.

The standing of the match was undoubtedly playing even further into United's hands – if there's any feature of their play that has been consistently good under Solskjaer, it's their counter-attacking, and they finished Spurs off just past the hour in a not too dissimilar manner.

Fernandes was the one to rob Oliver Skipp just inside the United half before darting forward and feeding Ronaldo. His clever flick opened up space and the Portugal talisman sliced open the Spurs defence for Cavani expertly make it 2-0.

The average age of United's starting XI (28 years, 325 days) was the oldest Solskjaer has named in the Premier League, and here were his two most experienced players doing the business when he needed them most.

Solskjaer got the players, system and substitutes – spoiler alert – right, with Marcus Rashford wrapping things up on the break towards the end shortly after his introduction.

Of course, it's worth saying that Spurs were always likely to be a potentially kind opponent for a United side desperate for a response. Prior to the weekend, Nuno's side had the second fewest shots (94) and joint-third poorest xG record (9.2) in the Premier League this season.

In the end, everything played into United's hands and Solskjaer got the response he needed – but with a trip to Atalanta and a Manchester derby coming up, the pressure is by no means off.

Manchester United delivered a hugely valuable performance for manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as they beat Tottenham 3-0 in London on Saturday.

A run of one point from four Premier League games, culminating in that embarrassing 5-0 home defeat to Liverpool last week, had left the Red Devils manager knowing a bad result at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium could have left his position untenable.

Solskjaer responded with a change to his system, starting with a back three and partnering Edinson Cavani with Cristiano Ronaldo, who broke the deadlock with a fine finish shortly before half-time.

The front pairing showed their value midway through the second half when Ronaldo set up Cavani to score his first Premier League goal of the season, with substitute Marcus Rashford slotting home a late third to pile the misery on Spurs boss Nuno Espirito Santo.

After something of an anxious start in which a blocked Cavani shot in the box was the best of the openings, Son Heung-min wasted a great chance when he poked the ball over the crossbar after taking down Lucas Moura's ball.

Cavani glanced a header from 12 yards wide of Hugo Lloris' right-hand post before Cristian Romero bundled the ball in from Eric Dier's flick-on at a Spurs corner, although the assistant referee's flag was correctly – if belatedly – raised.

There was no question of disallowing Ronaldo's opener, though, the Portugal star timing his movement to perfection to meet Bruno Fernandes' precise delivery and volley low beyond Lloris.

A spectacular second for Ronaldo after the restart was ruled out for offside, as Spurs showed some renewed attacking endeavour without managing to threaten David de Gea's goal.

United were happy to wait for their opportunities and duly took the next when it arrived. After Fernandes robbed Oliver Skipp in midfield, Ronaldo's clever turn and precise pass sent Cavani through, and his strike partner provided a delicate finish past Lloris.

Nemanja Matic, brought on to strengthen United's grip on the game, provided the telling throughball that sent Rashford into the box where he calmly finished his second goal in three league appearances.

What does it mean? Solskjaer earns a reprieve – for now

United's win lifted them back up to fifth in the Premier League, only three points behind Manchester City, who were earlier shocked at home by Crystal Palace.

Solskjaer is likely to be back in the firing line should his side lose the derby next week when the champions visit Old Trafford, but his job certainly appears safe for the time being.

Spurs, with five wins and five defeats from 10 games, are two points further back in eighth.

Deadly duo keeps Solskjaer alive

There was certainly far more stability about United with their change in system, but another real plus point was the partnership between Ronaldo and Cavani.

Their finishing was immaculate and the interplay for Cavani's goal superb, while the extra body further forward helped to negate the need for the high-risk pressing that left United so exposed against Liverpool.

Trouble builds for Nuno

There were loud boos from the home fans when Lucas was substituted for Steven Bergwijn nine minutes into the second half, which said plenty about the difficult position in which Nuno finds himself.

A third defeat without scoring in four games means pressure is mounting on the Portuguese as Spurs head into what looks to be a kinder run of fixtures.

What's next?

United head to Atalanta in the Champions League on Tuesday before next Saturday's home derby with City. Spurs face Vitesse in the Europa Conference League on Thursday and then head to Everton next Sunday.

Edinson Cavani was paired with Cristiano Ronaldo for the first time as Manchester United reverted to a three-man defence for Saturday's Premier League clash with Tottenham.

Seeking a response from last week's 5-0 home defeat to Liverpool, under-fire United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made two changes to his starting line-up and tweaked formation.

Cavani was brought into attack alongside Ronaldo, with Bruno Fernandes operating just behind the front two in a 3-4-1-2.

After netting three goals in his first two Premier League appearances for United this season, Ronaldo has not scored in any of his past four league matches – his worst run since November 2017 for Real Madrid.

Fit-again defender Raphael Varane was also recalled alongside Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire after missing United's most recent three games, during which time they conceded 11 goals.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw were shifted into wing-back roles, while Scott McTominay and Fred kept their places in central midfield, despite last week's historic defeat.

Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood were the two players to make way for United, who also named Jadon Sancho among their substitutes once again.

As for Spurs, Hugo Lloris, Eric Dier, Lucas Moura and Son Heung-min were recalled from the EFL Cup win at Burnley, with Ben Davies retaining his place for a first league start of the season and his 150th appearance in the competition for the club.

Tottenham had lost two of their past three home games with United in the Premier League ahead of this contest, following a previous run of six games without defeat on home soil in this fixture.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes his Manchester United team can match Tyson Fury's powers of recovery as they look to end their slide in Saturday's clash with Tottenham.

The Red Devils have not won any of their last four Premier League games, culminating in a 5-0 humiliation at the hands of rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford last Sunday.

United have lost three of their last four Premier League matches, as many defeats as they suffered in their previous 37 league games (W23 D11), as they head into the clash at Spurs. They have not lost three Premier League games in a row since December 2015 under Louis van Gaal.

Rumours around Solskjaer’s future have gone into overdrive following the heavy defeat to Jurgen Klopp’s men, and the Norwegian coach wants to see his team show the same spirit as WBC heavyweight champion Fury.

"I've got open and direct communication with the club, with the board, and we're very up front. Of course, I don't expect them to come out and defend a performance like this [against Liverpool], and we're in a poor run of form,” Solskjaer told Sky Sports.

"But my 18 years at the club are not going to be defined by these few weeks. I've had ups and downs as a player, I've had ups and downs as a manager, as a coach in the reserves, and for me, I'll always make sure that I fight back.

"I'm not going to let a period like this define me. I'm going to go all in now for a result on Saturday and that's the only thing we can do. We need a reaction and we need a result.

"I've not seen what's being talked about now or what's being said out there, but we've had two or three, let's call them 'crises', in the two or three years that I've been here. The team and the players have come through it stronger.

"Every team has a bad spell every season. We're in a very precarious and a bad moment, but that's what good players thrive in, that pressure. They're here at Man United because they're good people, good players and can handle these situations.

1 - Over the last 20 matches in all competitions of each current Premier League side, Manchester United have registered the fewest clean sheets (1), with only Newcastle (37) shipping more goals over their last 20 games than the Red Devils (34). Sticking. pic.twitter.com/Y7TwQSSnJ2

— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 27, 2021

"We've had a good training week and sorted some mindsets out because we need to go into the game with a right frame of mind - aggressive and go all out for a win, but also to be calm and composed and wait for the right moment.

"You see, for example, Tyson Fury; he gets knocked down, he stays down for as long as he needs to – calm and composed – then gets up and goes again."

The 48-year-old recalled times as a player at Old Trafford when he experienced similar difficulties.

"When I was here as a player, we lost 5-0 to Newcastle, 6-3 to Southampton, even between that we lost to Fenerbahce 1-0, the first home defeat in the Champions League group stages," Solskjaer added.

"That was my first season at the club, and you learn so much about the club and how strong people – winners – react to adversity. This club has been through so many bad spells and I'm strong enough to know that I won't give up anyway."

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola is not surprised by the scrutiny Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is facing at Manchester United having felt similar pressure during his Barcelona tenure.

Solskjaer's future has been the subject of widespread speculation this week following last weekend's historic 5-0 home defeat to Liverpool in the Premier League.

United lost by five or more goals without scoring for the first time since February 1955 in what was Liverpool's biggest ever margin of victory against their fierce rivals.

The Red Devils are seventh in the table with nine games played, already eight points behind leaders Chelsea, and have won just six of their 13 matches in all competitions

Solskjaer has spoken to United's board but has not sought any assurances about his future, with speculation growing that either Antonio Conte or Zinedine Zidane may be approached.

Guardiola, who took a year sabbatical after a four-season spell at Barca, has sympathy for Solskjaer as he believes the Norwegian is under twice the pressure as some managers.

"At United, everything that happens is doubled," he said. "The influence of them, like Liverpool, they are the greatest teams in England for many years. 

"When it happens, their victories are double, defeats are double. Of course, it's not a surprise.

"If I don't have good results, I'll be treated the same. Every manager. Nobody can survive bad results, no one. So expectations are so high at United, you have to win.

"For a long time the team doesn't win the Premier League, they do and they work to get results in terms of titles because their history demands it. 

"When I took over Barcelona, I knew it. I had to win. Otherwise, another manager will be in this position. I'm saying the most obvious things that everyone knows. 

"In that moment that it happened I'm pretty sure Ole is surrounded by people, family, the staff to be close to them and try to win the next game. There's no more secrets than that."

While questions remain over Solskjaer's future, Guardiola is preparing to take charge of his 200th Premier League game with Man City when they face Crystal Palace on Saturday.

The Catalan coach boasts the highest win percentage of any manager to have overseen at least 20 games in the English top flight since 1992 with 73.4 per cent.

But Guardiola, who takes his City side to Old Trafford next weekend, does not intend to stick around for another 200 league games with the reigning English champions.

"No, I don't think so," he said. "When you are at 200 games, you have many years and that means you won games, no secrets. 

"We are judged for results, not how good or bad we are, just results. If you get this milestone, it's because we have done quite decent with the players.

"I don't have any regrets. I could not demand or ask more than we have done so far. Impossible. 

"I'm delighted what we lived together in this period, hopefully we can continue working and doing well."

City have lost just one of their last 12 Premier League meetings with Palace, going down 3-2 at the Etihad Stadium in December 2018.

Under-pressure Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer revealed he has spoken to the club's board but has not sought any assurances about his future.

Solskjaer's future has been the subject of widespread speculation following United's lean recent run, capped by Sunday's 5-0 home thrashing at the hands of rivals Liverpool.

Senior United officials were said to have held a Monday meeting following the Liverpool loss, with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward joined by managing director Richard Arnold and co-chairman Joel Glazer.

"I’ve had communication with the board and I don’t expect them to come and give me assurances," Solskjaer said. "When you have a performance and a spell like we’ve had, that's not what I call about and say.

"My job is to put things right and that’s what I’m trying to do. I’m not here to ask for assurances."

United, who play Tottenham in the Premier League on Saturday, have only managed one point from their past four league matches and have slipped to seventh, eight points behind leaders Chelsea.

"It’s been a very difficult week. I’ve not had a problem sleeping because when you go to bed at night if you’ve done all your work then you don’t have much thinking there," Solskjaer said.

"You need time to have your decision-making and you need to do that when you’re staying awake. I’ve slept okay but It’s been a hard week in that respect."

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer vowed to try to fight back from another crisis with the club still reeling from their 5-0 loss to Liverpool.

Solskjaer's future has been the subject of intense speculation following their humiliating defeat to Jurgen Klopp's men at Old Trafford last Sunday.

Senior United officials were said to have held a meeting on Monday in the wake of the Liverpool loss, with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward joined by managing director Richard Arnold and co-chairman Joel Glazer.

But Solskjaer remains at the helm as United look to bounce back in the Premier League against Tottenham on Saturday.

And the Norwegian is ready to ensure his players produce the right response.

He told a media conference: "It's been a difficult week, of course, we've had to deal with the result and performance against Liverpool, which we know wasn't good enough and that's something that footballers have to deal with, that's why we're in this game, you have to look forward to the next game, make sure you're ready.

"And when you get to that next game sort it out and challenge the problems. We've had a good week on the training field.

"We definitely need a reaction and it's my job as well to put the players in the right frame of mind. I'm responsible for the reaction, the result, the performance.

"We've worked on the pitch, worked on everything that needs to be sorted for a footballer. It's not just frame of mind, it's the approach strategy, gameplan, tactics, technically, we've had a good week and I feel the boys are ready to give their best as they always do.

"The performance, nothing went to plan and that was nowhere near our best.

"I've been through some very bad moments as a player here and when I've been a manager. I've dealt with setbacks, there have been two or three crises at least since I became manager here and one thing I can say is I'll always give it a good shot and fight back."

Solskjaer will have defender Raphael Varane and forward Anthony Martial available for the clash at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, with both having regained fitness.

And Solskjaer indicated he wants his side to take inspiration from WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury to avoid the kind of disorganised performance they produced in the rout by Liverpool.

"Of course, you have to hold hands up and that performance is not acceptable, and we have to look at why it was not acceptable and why it went as it did," he added. 

"I use the analogy: it felt like we were a boxer being punch drunk, knocked down in the first four minutes or in the first round. We had a chance, we conceded a goal, we wanted to sort it out, and went a bit too open and too frantic against a good team.

"You see Tyson Fury when he gets knocked down a couple of times, it's remarkable how calm and composed he is on the floor, counts to six, seven, eight and he gets up and goes again.

"We got up too early and tried to sort it. Minds have to be better but we've had to look at different things as well, the communication has to be direct."

Dusan Vlahovic has already made it clear he will not re-sign with Fiorentina.

The in-demand Serbia international is wanted by a host of European clubs.

Juventus are reportedly ready to make their move.

 

TOP STORY – VLAHOVIC TO TURIN IN JANUARY?

Juventus are eyeing a January swoop for Fiorentina star Dusan Vlahovic, according to Tuttosport.

Vlahovic has no plans to re-sign with Fiorentina and the Serbia forward has been linked to Juve, Inter, Atletico Madrid, Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham.

But Juve are believed to be desperate to prise Vlahovic from Florence amid their struggles, while Gazzetta dello Sport claims contact has already been made.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Daily Star reports Manchester United have cooled their interest in Antonio Conte as a possible replacement for under-fire manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer due to his expensive demands. Zinedine Zidane, Ajax boss Erik ten Hag and Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino have also been linked.

Real Madrid and Liverpool are considering moves for United midfielder Paul Pogba, says Ekrem Konur. Pogba is out of contract at the end of the season and he has been linked with Barcelona, PSG and Juventus also.

- ESPN claims Chelsea and Newcastle United have been sounded out over their possible interest in struggling Madrid star Eden Hazard.

- Serie A rivals Inter and Juve are set to battle it out to sign Borussia Monchengladbach star Matthias Ginter, per Sport Bild.

Nicolo Barella will sign his new Inter deal next week, according to Fabrizio Romano. Barella had been linked with the likes of PSG, Atletico and Liverpool.

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