Ole Gunnar Solskjaer presided over another cup exit on Sunday as Manchester United lost to Leicester City.
It was a frustrating loss, with United’s loss meaning a semi-final date against Southampton has gone begging.
There are plenty of negatives to get into. United were sloppy in midfield, again.
The team defended poorly at a set piece, again. The first goal conceded was amateur hour defending, giving the ball away cheaply from a backpass.
United struggled to create chances too, with Greenwood, Martial and Cavani attempting two shots on goal combined.
While it is important to focus on those shortcomings, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wanted to talk about the positives from the game too. And yes, he did find some.
Speaking to the club website, Solskjaer picked out three reasons to be positive.
Solskjaer highlighted Mason Greenwood’s goalscoring ability, the quality of the build-up for the team move for his goal, and the progression in terms of getting injured players back.
He told the club website: “A top goal and great to see Mason having that instinct again. It was a good finish and good by Paul, Donny creates the goal without even touching it. It was clever and something to build on.
“There were positive moments as well and it’s great to see Paul and Donny back on the pitch and Edi back and Anto completed 90 minutes. It means a lot for the next two months.”
United need momentum
The international break comes at an awkward time for United now. Nobody wanted to head into it on the back of a defeat.
On one hand it provides some respite and a fresh start upon the return. There are some big fixtures upcoming, with Tottenham, Leeds and Liverpool three of the next five league games after the break, mixed in with the Europa League.
United need to finish the season strongly to build momentum for next season and get some positivity going into the summer, rather than limp over the line and scrape fourth place, or even miss out entirely.
Solskjaer is right that it is important to get players back. What we don’t know, is the condition they will return in after the international break. There could even be fresh injuries to contend with.
Mason Greenwood is off with England’s under-21 side, and perhaps he can build some momentum there. This goal will do him some good, and he could still finish the season with a flourish.
None of these things mask the frustration of missing out on a FA Cup semi-final and probably a final. United blew it.
It feels like the club’s season rests on Europa League success now. To many, a trophy is the only thing which matters, and can make up for this defeat.
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