Solskjaer should take plenty of encouragement from PSG scouting mission

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wasted no time in embarking on a scouting mission in the wake of Manchester United’s 1-0 win against Leicester yesterday.
Within hours of full-time at the King Power Stadium, Solskjaer and his assistant Mike Phelan were spotted by BT Sport at the Stade de Lyon, where Lyon hosted Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain.
With United of course set to host PSG next week in the last 16 of the Champions League, Solskjaer was on the look-out for clues as to how to get the better of Thomas Tuchel’s side.

(Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Moussa Dembele, formerly of Fulham and Celtic, shone for the hosts as they inflicted a first league defeat of the season on the reigning champions, by coming from behind to grab a deserved 2-1 victory.
As Solskjaer would have expected, PSG were electric going forward at times, with Kylian Mbappe impressing and former United man Angel di Maria opening the scoring after seven minutes.
But Lyon roared back and exposed PSG’s three-man backline time and again, with Alphonse Areola forced into action on numerous occasions before Dembele levelled the scores late in the first half.

(Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images)

PSG were unable to handle Lyon’s pressing in midfield – with a central duo of defender Marquinos and playmaker Julian Draxler swamped – and that pairing looked likely to struggle against Ander Herrera, Nemanja Matic and a reinvigorated Paul Pogba.
Dani Alves left Thiago Silva exposed beside him and if Marcus Rashford is able to get on the ball as regularly as Dembele did, United have every chance of beating PSG at Old Trafford next week.
Tuchel’s men toiled when chasing the game, showing the familiar, disjointed hallmarks of a group of individuals who are not yet a team, as their league unbeaten record deservedly disappeared.

Midfield pressing, pace on the counter attack and defensive diligence will be key for United next week, but Solskajer should have seen plenty on his scouting mission to convince him that his swift hop across the channel was worthwhile.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.