Four Manchester United decisions Solskjaer got wrong against Everton
Manchester United fans and management have plenty of time now to stew on another poor Premier League result.
A 1-1 draw at home to Everton goes down as two points dropped especially considering the farcical nature of some of the defending.
Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has questions to answer about his own selections.
One decision paid off spectacularly, the call to bring Anthony Martial into the side.
And just as Solskjaer deserves credit for the decision which worked out, there should be scrutiny on the ones which did not.
A lot of the criticism from the media centred on Solskjaer leaving out Cristiano. That’s the low-hanging fruit, the easy target, to say Ronaldo wasn’t in the team was the reason United lost.
But Ronaldo was ineffectual at home to Aston Villa the week before, showing that United’s problems lie deeper than that.
Ronaldo is 36 and it is unreasonable to expect him to start every single game. United have a perfectly able deputy in Edinson Cavani.
Here is a look at three decisions Solskjaer got wrong in the draw at Old Trafford…
Alex Telles not starting
Alex Telles was one of Manchester United’s heroes in midweek in the win over Villarreal, scoring his first ever goal for the club.
His reward was to be dropped to the bench. This sends the wrong kind of message.
It showed Solskjaer will always have his favourites, and players like Telles will never be regular starters even if they earn a prolonged opportunity.
Luke Shaw suffered an injury just a week earlier and only resumed training on Friday, shortly before the game.
Shaw’s performance showed a player who appears to be ‘not completely there’ right now.
He was dragged out of position for Everton’s goal, and was nowhere to be seen when Tom Davies had a late chance.
Alex Telles could not possibly have done any worse if he had been given the starting spot.
Jesse Lingard omission
Jesse Lingard was another of Manchester United’s heroes in midweek. He made up for his error at Young Boys by assisting the winner against Villarreal.
Like Telles, Solskjaer chose not to reward Lingard for his impact and put him straight back on the bench.
Lingard may be wondering what he needs to do to earn a Premier League start.
Not only did he not start this game, he was an unused substitute.
United do have a wealth of options in attack, but this was a snub which made little sense.
Lingard has been productive with very few minutes this season and Saturday’s game will have been the most frustrating yet for him after the way he impacted the match on Wednesday night.
Fred and McTominay start
How many times do we have to see this one play out? Fred and McTominay may be a useful combination away from home, but at Old Trafford, it is too defensive a shape.
Paul Pogba could have replaced one of them, while Donny van de Beek and Nemanja Matic were unused entirely.
This will have been particularly frustrating to both players, considering they both started at Old Trafford in a 4-0 pre-season win over Everton in August.
Van de Beek and Matic would have been a preferable combination for this game to McTominay and Fred. But alternatively United could have mixed just one of them in.
Predictably, Fred’s limitations were exposed as United conceded the equaliser as he was bundled off the ball in a way Nemanja Matic would never have been.
The double change
Don’t fall for the media narrative. The reason United lost was not because Ronaldo was brought on. Instead the double change to bring him on had more of an unsettling effect than a galvanising one.
Anthony Martial had to come off due to injury. Fine. But as usual there is no middle ground with Solskjaer’s substitutions, it’s usually all or nothing.
Solskjaer brought off Edinson Cavani against a side he had scored three goals against in three games last season, when he was playing well and stretching the defence.
United changed too much at once and Ronaldo would have been better brought on 15 minutes later.
Solskjaer is usually criticised for making changes too late. In this case it felt like he went too early, making one change was enough at that time, but two was too many.
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