Caretaker manager Michael Carrick has explained how Manchester United have been trying to implement the press in certain situations, after it came off to break the deadlock at Villarreal.
Etienne Capoue was put under severe pressure by Fred when receiving the ball from keeper Geronimo Rulli, and it broke loose for Cristiano Ronaldo to loop the ball into the net for the key opening goal in Spain. Jadon Sancho added a late second and, after the game, Carrick was asked in his press conference about the two strikes.
He paid tribute to Fred and suggested the Brazil international is one of the best around at harrying opponents in possession and forcing them into mistakes.
“Yeah of course it did impress me, the pressing one,” he said of the first goal. “If you look back over time, we have pressed as a team, especially on goal kicks and when the goalkeeper got the ball, we do try to press.
“Sometimes, it hasn’t worked and we haven’t been good enough to do it, but certainly the intention is to do that. When we have changed our approach and, certainly over the last few years, we have tried to implement that the best we can.
“Fred is one of the best around at doing it and I thought he played a massive part in the first goal. Cristiano finishes it off but Fred has done terrific.”
Carrick was also pleased with the second goal, scored by Sancho, which finished off a flowing move and sealed the three points.
“The intercepting for the second goal is what we’ve got in the team,” he added. “To be able to hit teams on the break and to have those little moments has always been in the DNA of this club and that’s still within the players we have got.
“I’m delighted with both goals, I’m not going to take any credit for that, it’s not about my ideas that one, it’s about the lads working hard together and pulling it off. The efforts, endeavours and application tonight, when they put that together, we’re a good team.”