Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made a pointed reference to Tottenham Hotspur’s EFL Cup bye on Tuesday after Jose Mourinho’s jibe at Manchester United’s knack for winning penalties.
United required a late penalty – awarded after the final whistle had blown – to record a fortuitous 3-2 win over Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday, having seen Graham Potter’s side hit the woodwork five times.
It was the second penalty that United have been awarded in three games this season, and Solskjaer’s side won 22 spot-kicks in all competitions last season.
Mourinho poked fun at United’s penalty-winning at the weekend, suggesting that Solskjaer would “never accept to play with a 17-yard box” and “would prefer a 22-yard box”.
Solskjaer has now nibbled back ahead of United’s return to Brighton in the EFL Cup and alluded to Tottenham’s fourth round bye. Spurs’ third round tie was declared as a walkover due to a coronavirus outbreak at opponents Leyton Orient.
When asked whether one of the positive of the EFL Cup was that teams do not have to play many games to go far in the competition, Solskjaer said: “It depends how you want to get there, you’ve got teams getting there even without playing, even to this round!
“It’s a competition you always want to go far in and you always want to try to give experience to the young kids as well and the squad needs to feel that we’re together,” Solskjaer added.
“If you only play one XI that’s not great at times. So for us we want to win and give that feeling that it’s important this season.”
The United manager also demanded more clarity on the change to the handball law which has seen several controversial penalties awarded at the start of the new Premier League season.
Solskjaer added his voice to the growing chorus of managers asking for the rule to be reviewed. Mourinho’s Tottenham conceded a last-minute equaliser against Newcastle after Eric Dier was judged to have handled the ball.
“The new handball rule… you never know what’s going to happen,” Solskjaer said. “You can discuss it all day long but we need some clarity on what’s a foul and what’s a penalty because now it looks like you can chip the ball up into someone’s hand like what happened to us against Palace for example and Victor [Lindelof] got a penalty against him.
“And then the header against Tottenham, he’s got no idea the ball hits him. You see the goals scored against West Brom at the end, is that not handball? We need to get that clarity. It’s a whole spectrum of things that aren’t normal.”
Tottenham play Chelsea in the EFL Cup fourth round on Tuesday night, before travelling to play United at Old Trafford in the Premier League on Sunday.
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