Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insists Nigeria’s Odion Ighalo has improved Manchester United’s attacking football after his brace in the FA Cup fifth round win over Derby County on Thursday night.
Ighalo made his third start for United and now has three goals in six games since he joined on loan from Shanghai Shenhua on transfer deadline day. The 30-year-old squandered a presentable chance with the game goalless but struck either side of half-time to help United extend their unbeaten run to nine games in a 3-0 win.
United have plundered 15 goals in six games since Ighalo arrived and the Nigeria international has not struggled for chances in matches he has failed to register in. “He’s doing what it says on the tin and what we asked for when we signed him,” Solskjaer said. “Coming in, playing, up front, different type of striker, gets chances every game.
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“Today he could have had another couple, delighted, very happy with him. It gives us a chance with Mason [Greenwood] and Antho [Martial] to be kept fresh as well.
“He’s experienced and he’s scored goals his whole career, in and around the box, he reads and sniffs out where the chances come. It’s a combination maybe, but maybe more him than us [improving in attack]. That type of striker is vital for the team.”
Ighalo deputised for the rested Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood ahead of Sunday’s Manchester derby at Old Trafford, where both could be recalled.
Ighalo is six-and-a-half years Martial’s senior and 12 years older than the teenage Greenwood, and Solskjaer feels both younger forwards can learn from the former Watford frontman.
“There’s more to come,” Solskjaer added.
“He’ll improve, he’ll get sharper, more used to us, I’ve got no doubt he’ll only get better and better. I would think [he could help Martial and Greenwood]. I would think you look at him, his physical presence; we can play the ball up to him and he’ll get hold of it, it’s hard to play central defender against him when he’s looking for you first and buys half a yard by just that movement.
“Sometimes our young boys aren’t used to that from the academy, they’re used to ‘you’re not allowed to tackle me’, more or less. Of course, I’d like them to look at him and learn a couple of things.”