Manchester United produced an uncharacteristic off-form display at home to Championship strugglers Reading in the FA Cup third round tie on Saturday afternoon, but still managed to engineer a comfortable 2-0 victory thanks in part to a controversial VAR decision.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who was celebrating a record five wins in his first five games as United manager, made no delusions of his side’s performance, admitting they were below the standard he would expect.
"The way we played wasn't the best - But we got the goals and managed to get through," Solskjaer told BBC Sport.
The Norwegian pointed to the nine changes he made to the squad that faced Reading as the reason for a lack of cohesion adding: "We made nine changes, so I made it hard for the boys because they hadn't played together too much.”
He also defended his decision as a chance to get a better look at his squad players in competitive action ahead of a tough trip to Tottenham next weekend. Solskjaer claimed the game gave an "opportunity for everyone to put themselves in the frame" for that crunch Premier League clash.
The big talking point of the tie against Reading was, of course, Manchester United’s opener which was controversially awarded via a VAR intervention. The Red Devils initially had a goal chalked off for offside, which went to a VAR review. During a three minute interval, the officials also flagged up a potential infraction on Juan Mata.
The goal was ruled out but United were awarded a penalty which Mata converted to give United the lead. Later replays showed the offside infraction to be before the penalty appeal meaning the correct decision should have been a free kick to Reading that nullified the later play.
Solskjaer wouldn't be drawn into comments about the offside call, instead claiming the foul was "clear and obvious and factual" and added, "I didn't need VAR to see that Mata was fouled."