Ole Gunnar Solskjaer talked up the importance of Manchester United getting the best out of Edinson Cavani next season in a possible hint over the striker’s future.
Cavani came off the bench to score United’s third as they rallied from a goal down to beat Aston Villa 3-1 on Sunday and prevent Manchester City from being crowned champions.
A defeat would have guaranteed the trophy for Pep Guardiola’s side and the Red Devils were losing at half-time thanks to a brilliant strike from Bertrand Traore.
However, a Bruno Fernandes penalty and a Mason Greenwood finish turned the game on its head in the second half before Cavani nodded home his eighth goal in seven games.
Cavani also became the third United player to score five Premier League goals in a single season as a substitute, following in the footsteps of Javier Hernandez in 2010-11 and manager Solskjaer in 1998-99.
As yet, there has been no confirmed agreement between the Uruguayan and the club over extending his stay at Old Trafford by another 12 months, but Solskjaer appears optimistic of keeping the 34-year-old.
“His movement, his desire to score goals… A great cross from Marcus [Rashford],” Solskjaer told Sky Sports when asked about the qualities that Cavani brings to the side.
“We’re getting to learn Edinson as well, and hopefully, we can use him more next season.”
Greenwood’s goal took him to 16 in the top flight, surpassing the previous record of 15 for a Red Devils teenager in the competition set by Wayne Rooney.
“He’s top,” said Solskjaer. “I was thinking maybe curl it far post, but he goes near post. He’s got all the finishes. Mason had a long night on Thursday [against Roma] and worked really hard today.
“You think maybe you could take him off at half-time, because the boy needs some rest, but it just shows that he can do the best.”
While United’s win ensured the title race will continue for now, the 10-point gap to City at the top means they must realistically win their remaining four matches and hope their rivals pick up no more than a point from their final three games.
With fixtures to come against Leicester City and Liverpool between now and next weekend, United’s chances of prolonging City’s wait for the trophy appear to be slim.
Solskjaer, though, was delighted to prevent City from celebrating on Sunday, especially given his players had been on duty for the Europa League semi-final second leg against Roma three days ago.
“That’s a good thing, that’s the best thing with today. At least I don’t drive into a blue army tonight,” he said. “We’ll try to deal with it as long as we can.
“[It is a] massive result; it takes a little bit of the pressure away, we can go into the next one confident, enjoy it. I’m delighted. It was always going to be difficult after being in Europe; [we] didn’t come back until half four in the morning on Friday.
“Great reaction at half-time again, even though I felt first half we were the better team, created the better chances but couldn’t find the goal.
“The advantage of being fresh going into a game like this is quite high. We could have scored the first goal, they scored from nothing, with a good goal by the way, but I’m pleased with everyone. I know how hard it is towards the end of a long, long season.”