Manchester United coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has praised Edinson Cavani’s match-winning performance against Southampton, while revealing the advice former coach Sir Alex Ferguson gave him about strikers.
Cavani came off the bench at half-time on Sunday, with United trailing 2-0 at St Mary’s in the Premier League, and the Uruguay forward assisted a Bruno Fernandes goal before scoring two of his one – the second coming in added time – to ensure a win for the visitors.
“Edinson made a great impact,” Solskjaer said after the final whistle. “He’s one of the best and cleverest movers in the box. He can peel off you, he can get in front of you. Sometimes it works for you and he certainly had an impact today.”
“We’re not the same types of players,” Solskjaer added, though. “[And] I’ve not made him, he’s made himself. He reminds me of Andy Cole by the way, with his movement inside the box; he’s so sharp, clever, great timing.
“He’s not learned off me, because he wasn’t ready when the second half started. I was always ready and had studs on, so he made us wait a little bit too much for my liking!” Solskjaer joked, referencing the moment Cavani had to change boots before stepping onto the pitch.
“Edinson has been around the block and scored so many goals and played football for so long. He’s been between those posts so many times, he’s seen this game before, he’s scored that goal before.
“He knows exactly where to move and his best friend in the box is what Sir Alex always used to tell me: ‘Your best friend in the box is space,’ and he gets into that space with perfect timing.
“He’s got all the attributes for a top-class footballer and human being. He’s had a great career and scored goals wherever he’s been. He’s so professional, so meticulous in his preparation, in his recovery, what he does at meal-times, before the game, during the game. So I was surprised when he didn’t have his boots on when the second half started!
“Also, to have a focal point in the box is important for us, we’ve not really had that since Romelu [Lukaku] left. Anthony [Martial], Marcus [Rashford], Mason [Greenwood], they’re different types of forwards. He gives us a great balance and a mix, so we wanted to mix it up and had an impact.”
Cavani is possibly facing a three-match ban, however, after he used a racial term on social media after the Southampton game.
The 33-year-old took to Instagram to celebrate his match-winning performance off the bench, and while replying on his stories to a message of congratulations, he used the Spanish term ‘negrito’, which translates as ‘black’.
United stressed that the word was clearly used in an affectionate manner and has different connotations in South America, where Cavani is from.