Bruno Fernandes’s successful retake earned Manchester United their first Premier League home win of the season against West Brom and took him above Denis Irwin for penalty goals.
Fernandes has netted 19 times in 34 appearances for United and 12 of them have come from 12 yards since he assumed the spotkick responsibility against Watford in February.
The 26-year-old has only recorded one failure for United – at Newcastle last month – and his potency from the penalty spot means Fernandes has surpassed Irwin’s haul of 11 penalty goals.
Irwin took his first United spotkick in regulation time against Southampton in May 1995 and his final effort was at Anderlecht in October 2000. Although Irwin was a reliable taker, he was second-choice behind Eric Cantona and after the Frenchman retired in 1997 Teddy Sheringham took over at the start of 1997-98. Only Sheringham squandered his first two penalties against Tottenham and Derby County, so Irwin replaced him.
Fernandes needs to convert only six more penalties to match Eric Cantona’s haul of 18 for United across four-and-a-half years and Solskjaer felt his insistence on stepping up a second time spoke volumes of Fernandes’s character.
“It says everything it should be saying,” Solskjaer said after Sam Johnstone was penalised for straying off his line. “If you play for Man United you should never be afraid of taking a penalty. There aren’t many better opportunities to score a goal and we want players to take responsibility for both good and bad.
“And if some penalty takers change their mind after missing one I’d be disappointed but I know Bruno would want to take every penalty as well, so I was never worried.
“It’s much worse doing speech in front of 15 people inside a room. They’ve been playing football their whole lives, it’s a kick from 12 yards.”
United hung on for a 1-0 win against West Brom, still winless in the Premier League after nine matches and in the relegation zone, and Solskjaer felt the victory would have been more comfortable if United’s finishing was sharper.
“We know we can play better than this and certainly could have made it more comfortable with taking our chances earlier on and when you don’t so that there’s always an edge to the game and it was edgy towards the end,” he added.
“It was important to get that win, you could see that, we didn’t have composure or quality to get the second goal that would have made it more comfortable.
“You could see towards the end it meant a lot for us to win and maybe then we were a bit too edgy. We hadn’t had a win at home in the league this season, so of course there’s been a lot said and written about it and probably affected the players more than I’d have liked and than it should have but it certainly has.
“But we got a win, a clean sheet, three points and we’ve got another game here (against Istanbul Basaksehir) on Tuesday night at Old Trafford.”