Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has received a lot of credit for leading Manchester United up to the top of the Premier League table. So when it goes wrong he must also accept some fairly apportioned blame too.
United’s 2-1 defeat to Sheffield United was a woeful result which could allow City to open up a four point gap at the top of the table.
The players let him down with a lack of creativity and terrible defending. But Solskjaer is not immune from criticism. Here is a look at four things he got wrong…
No half-time changes
Solskjaer’s team selection did not cause too much controversy before kick-off. But within half an hour it was apparent that the players were not ‘on it’ and the night was going to be an uncomfortable one.
Edinson Cavani was seen warming up in the first half and it seemed inevitable there would be a couple of half-time changes, like there were in the comeback win away to Southampton.
It was a shock to see all the players come out for the second half. There was not much improvement and it took until the 65th minute for a change.
Solskjaer’s last two changes were his usual desperate throw of the dice with eight minutes to go. It was too late.
Martial stayed on
Anthony Martial did not have a good game at all. The Telegraph described his performance as ‘abysmal’.
It was utterly bemusing to see him survive all three substitutions and complete the game.
Mason Greenwood was taken off for Cavani, despite having looked more threatening. Alex Telles and Axel Tuanzebe came off late on as Solskjaer reshuffled tactically.
The idea was to leave Martial on in the hope he could grab a goal. Let’s be honest, it never looked likely. He has now been caught on two Premier League goals by Harry Maguire.
Playing Marcus Rashford
The one controversial selection from Solskjaer was to pick Marcus Rashford, despite him dealing with a knee injury in the lead up to the game.
This was a chance for Solskjaer to use his other options. Could Juan Mata or Dan James not have been brought in to make their first league starts of 2021? Or could Donny van de Beek not have played out wide?
United have options, yet it feels like we don’t, with Rashford continually played without rest.
With the defeat, Solskjaer has served to further tire out Rashford, while also snubbing United’s other options. The United boss gets it right a lot, but this doesn’t feel like good squad management.
Not taking Matic off at half-time
By half-time it was very clear this game was not going United’s way. We needed energy and bite in midfield, and Nemanja Matic was not providing it.
This was a game where Solskjaer should have taken the quick decision to bring Matic off and get Fred on.
The Brazilian’s energy in the middle was sorely missed. United were too passive and this was shown up after we equalised. Nobody was making things happen, winning the ball back and driving the team forward, and this led to Sheffield United grabbing the winner.
Matic was among the players at fault for the second goal. He should not have even been on the pitch at this point.
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