After securing important Barclays Premier League points against Norwich City, a delighted Ole Gunnar Solskjær offered his thoughts on his side’s performance and win at Cardiff City Stadium. A sustained period of pressure from the Canaries brought back memories of Sunderland’s last-minute equaliser in the Welsh capital at the end of December, but the Bluebirds’ defence held strong for a 2-1 victory.
“I’m not sure if nervous is the right word,” Ole said of the intense period of defending at the end of the game. “But it was a case of almost expecting them to score, as the momentum was with them at the end there. We had the momentum towards the start of the second half, but they had it towards the end.
Luckily we’ve got one of the best keepers in the league. David [Marshall] was wonderful, he kept us in the game and I think all of the players owe him a drink tonight.
“I watched West Ham’s win over Swansea before the game and from seeing that Sunderland also got a good result, it felt even more important that we got the three points today. We wanted a bright start, but again we started slowly - maybe I should do my half-time team talk before the game!”
Ole’s introduction of Wilfried Zaha for his Cardiff City debut shortly before half-time proved to be a pivotal moment in the course of the match. The Bluebirds boss had some words of praise for Zaha and also full-back Fábio da Silva, who also made his first appearance in Cardiff City colours.
“Sometimes you’ve just got to make decisions and I felt it was right to put Wilf on,” he said. “He lifted the crowd, he lifted the players and maybe he frightened the Norwich defenders. He’s such an exciting talent. Going forward he’s one of the best players I’ve seen, but defensively we’ve got some work to do – but he’s a young lad, and he’s shown us already what he can do. To lift us like he did today, that was a great debut for him.
“[With regards to Peter Whittingham] I didn’t have any particular doubts in him. I thought Jordon Mutch had gotten into the game with his forward runs in the centre, and that’s why I felt Peter was the one to sacrifice. Wilfried is young, he’s exciting and he’s one of the best I’ve seen with the ball at pace.
“Just looking at the first couple of touches Fábio had, he’s a great player. He’s Brazilian, he plays attacking football like his brother, but his brother took his place, so why not come and play for me? I know what’s required to play for Manchester United, and David [Manchester United manager Moyes] put trust in me as the person that’s best to take on those two players, to take them one step further and give them games.”
Solskjær also gave credit to Craig Bellamy, who opened his account for the season by grabbing the Bluebirds’ forty-ninth-minute equaliser, the goal creating some Premier League history as Bellamy became the first player to have scored for seven different teams in the top flight.
“It was a fantastically-weighted pass from Zaha, a great timed run by Bellamy, and he slotted it nicely,” he said. “He’s become the first player to score for seven different Premier League clubs which is a great achievement, but he’s not going to get an eighth, that’s for sure – he’ll be staying with us. He makes an impact with us on the training ground – he’s got standards that I was used to when I was playing where I was before – when you’re with players like Gary Neville, Roy Keane and Eric Cantona, they all demanded one hundred per cent every day, and that’s exactly what he does. Craig’s a proud man and he’s proud to play for Cardiff.”
Also making his debut today was Kenwyne Jones, and Ole had some praise left for his match-winner.
“We bought Kenwyne for what we saw today. He’s a big target man who gives us something different. He’s different to Fraizer in terms of style, and it took us at least half an hour to start realising what we can use him for. We played too much nice football in the beginning; sometimes playing a direct ball up to the frontman is the answer.”
With the South Wales derby against Swansea City to come next week, Ole has already begun looking ahead to another crucial Barclays Premier League fixture.
“When I came in I said I wanted to reach the top fifteen. That’s what we’re aiming for, and we’ve got a good chance because it’s so tight in there. We’ve done that today, and we also want to finish ahead of Swansea, so it’s a big game for us next week. We’re looking forward to it. It will be full of passion.”