Solskjaer knows all about the importance of using your substitutes and so it proved as Romelu Lukaku came off the bench to help earn Manchester United a fourth victory in the first four league matches under the caretaker manager.
In fact only one other United manager has achieved that feat in the club’s illustrious history – Sir Matt Busby, no less, in 1946, who went on to win his first five league games – which is some achievement by Solskjaer considering the confidence-shredded desperation he inherited at Old Trafford.
The club’s former super-sub striker, who so often came on to devastating, goal-scoring effect himself throughout his career at the club, will regard this as the hardest-earned of his four wins and it is all the more important because of that.
Lukaku was only on the pitch for 38 seconds before he scored with his first touch, following up Marcus Rashford’s free-kick before Rashford added a second, and this result also came with a first clean sheet for Solskjaer even if his team did give up chances and will have to play far better than this against better opponents – starting with Tottenham Hotspur away a week on Sunday. “Walking away with one of those doughnuts is great,” the Norwegian said, nonetheless, and while he will be pleased again with Victor Lindelof his centre-half partner Phil Jones was far less convincing.
Importantly for United it closed the gap on fourth-placed Chelsea to six points in that vital race for a Champions League place. Not so long ago it had been 11 points. Then Solskjaer took over. For Newcastle it means it is just one win in seven and they are in clear and present danger of getting sucked down into the relegation dog-fight not least because, curiously, their home form is so wretched.