Manchester United’s Champions League match with RB Leipzig was a tough watch for 80 minutes before a brief stretch of hope for the final 10.
Ultimately it was not enough as United lost 3-2 and an earlier defeat at Istanbul Basaksehir in particular came back to haunt us.
David de Gea and Harry Maguire were at fault for the crucial third goal United conceded, combining for a defensive mix-up which was hard to stomach.
As part of our reflection on the defeat, we have three more questions which need to be asked…
Is there a problem with Aaron Wan-Bissaka
Aaron Wan-Bissaka looked totally lost in the first half against Leipzig. United even used up one of the substitutions to replace him for the final stages.
His positioning looked off all night. It would be easy to point to the change in system as reason for it. Leizpig were able to exploit him easily.
It would be too easy to pin it on the formation, however. Wan-Bissaka has looked vulnerable this season, right back to the away game at Brighton at the end of September, where his positioning was all over the place on crosses.
From an attacking perspective, Wan-Bissaka does not offer enough. Against Leipzig he did not even attempt a single cross.
So was the £50 million spent on Wan-Bissaka a bad investment? Not necessarily. The problem may be that United are not helping him.
Wan-Bissaka has no help in front of him, with right winger a position ignored by United for far too long.
This leaves him trying to do too much. He has the pressure of trying to create, when it is a weak point, to add to his defensive duties. The set up amplifies his deficiencies.
If United can sign a right winger and play with a more a balanced system, then we should start to see a better Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
A lack of rest is also a contributing factor. A move touted by SkySports for Kieran Trippier could help him long-term.
Should Ole put his faith in Axel Tuanzebe?
It was a little sad at the end seeing Axel Tuanzebe come on for the final 15 minutes.
Tuanzebe played such a pivotal role in United’s big win in Paris and has barely been used since.
This season on some levels like a failure on United’s part, not to get such a talented young defender more game time.
Tuanzebe did have one other start, and played poorly in the defeat in Turkey, but it would be unfair to pin that one on him when Harry Maguire also started the game.
Lindelof and Maguire are Solskjaer’s first choice, that is established. Tuanzebe still deserves more game time than he has been getting.
He should get chances over the festive stretch, and in the Europa League next year.
We really need to see more of him. Tuanzebe looked like a world beater in Paris, and this has not been built on at all.
Eric Bailly is in the mix too, although at present he looks like fourth choice.
Why wasn’t Juan Mata used?
Solskjaer’s late double substitution to bring on Tuanzebe and Fosu-Mensah was perplexing with United chasing a goal.
Odion Ighalo’s snub was not particularly surprising as he has fallen right down the pecking order.
It was more of a surprise to see Juan Mata not given the chance to change the game, and it was probably a mistake.
Mata was United’s catalyst to beat West Ham at the weekend, coming on at 1-0 down in the 62nd minute before United won 3-1. He provided a sublime assist for United’s third.
Only Bruno Fernandes (7) and Marcus Rashford (4) have more assists than Mata (3) this season. Surely it would have been better to have one of the team’s best creative players on the pitch for the last stretch?
Mata was the one who changed the game late in the Europa League quarter-final against Copenhagen when nobody else could break the Danes down.
There is no guarantee Mata would have made the breakthrough, but it was more likely he would have done so than the three late substitutes, Williams, Tuanzebe, and Fosu-Mensah.
It was a perplexing decision from Solskjaer, and in hindsight a real error when United needed to go for broke and attack.
- Anthony Martial faces fitness battle for Manchester derby
- Five things we learned as Manchester United draw with Crystal Palace
- Manchester United line-up v Crystal Palace
- It’s getting harder to see Manchester United keeping Juan Mata
- Report: Erling Haaland will consider United but not Chelsea
- Luke Shaw has been ‘unbelievable recently’ says Dan James
- Some United fans react as Solskjaer predicts a quiet summer transfer window
- Predicted Manchester United line-up v Crystal Palace
- Teden Mengi’s first loan start at centre-back for Derby proves to be a tough one