Manchester United’s Champions League campaign got off to a terrible start against Young Boys.
A 2-1 defeat leaves United with a lot of work to do to get back on track and qualify for the knockout rounds.
Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must accept his share of the blame for the result despite the awful individual errors from Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Jesse Lingard.
Here is a look at five things Solskjaer got wrong which played a part in the defeat…
Leaving Varane on the bench
Raphael Varane is a four-times Champions League winner. There was no reason to bench him for United’s opening game of the group.
Solskjaer set the wrong tone for the match by leaving Varane out of the starting line-up.
With United down to 10 men at half-time, Solskjaer panicked.
Had Varane and Harry Maguire been the two centre-backs, would Victor Lindelof have been brought on to make it a five?
It was clear Varane needed to be on the pitch to try and help United hold out, he should have just been on from the start.
If game time was the reason for Varane being benched, then perhaps Solskjaer should have prioritised this match over the Newcastle fixture.
Shifting to five at the back
United have not played five at the back since the 3-2 loss away at RB Leipzig, and never with Varane. So this mid-game switch was not an ideal scenario to make the shift.
The tactical change left the team unbalanced, as United had too many defenders and not enough midfielders.
United failed to create a single chance after the red card and Young Boys had too much possession in the second half. Their equaliser felt inevitable.
Donny van de Beek was doing a decent job in midfield and he will have been disappointed to go off.
Ronaldo off and Lingard on
United don’t want to ask too much of Cristiano Ronaldo, who had little service, but taking him off for Jesse Lingard felt odd.
It left United without an outlet in attack, and when United had a free-kick minutes later, there was no Ronaldo in the centre for Diogo Dalot to try and aim for.
Ronaldo is known for scoring late goals and delivering in key situations. Solskjaer did not give him the opportunity to show that.
The Lingard change proved doubly disastrous with the England international giving away the key pass for Young Boys’ injury time winner.
Fred off and Martial on
One positive change Solskjaer did make was bringing on Nemanja Matic. United’s control of the midfield began to improve afterwards.
Then this was undone with Fred going off in the 88th minute for an attacker, with Anthony Martial coming on.
Martial like Ronaldo was able to offer little, with no service, and United’s midfield was just weakened.
Martial on for Ronaldo would have been a more sensible call, if United wanted the Frenchman on the pitch.
No pace on the pitch
Without Mason Greenwood, United’s lack of pace was noticeable. He could have been an important change to stretch the Young Boys’ defence.
Another option United ignored was Anthony Elanga, who is a rapid young player with an eye for goal and strong dribbling ability.
He could have been a game changer who would have taken pressure off United’s defence, just like Greenwood, who could have supported Ronaldo and created space for him.
Instead of making ambitious attacking changes, United were too cautious and played for a draw. As usual when attempting to do so, the end result backfires.
Solskjaer had the players on the bench who could have changed this game positively, and opted not to use them.
- Is Man Utd vs Villa on TV? Kick off time, team news and prediction
- Solskjaer says de Gea has been smashing personal bests in United’s fitness tests
- Predicted Manchester United line-up v Aston Villa
- Cristiano Ronaldo’s record against Aston Villa
- David de Gea excited by Cristiano Ronaldo’s early impact
- Solskjaer offers update on Cavani ahead of Villa clash
- Aston Villa boss Smith raves about United loanee Axel Tuanzebe
- Manchester United’s top under-23s scorers and assist leaders for 2021/22
- Manchester United’s top under-18s scorers and assist leaders for 2021/22
- Manchester United have doubts over signing Declan Rice
- Uruguay negotiating to try and secure Edinson Cavani release for October international fixtures
- Should Solskjaer start Jesse Lingard against Aston Villa and how would he fit in?
- Three players linked with Manchester United transfer moves this week
- Two Manchester United players have turned Cristiano Ronaldo deal from luxury to necessity
- Two Manchester United academy players react after meeting Ronaldo for the first time