A manager’s success is often brought about through his substitutions. Bringing the right player on at the right time can make a coach look like a genius.
And then there are times when it does not look so smart. It is hard to say Ole Gunnar Solskjaer got it right for Manchester United last night.
Withdrawing Paul Pogba seemed logical based on his poor display over the first 62 minutes against Southampton.
Fred also seemed like a good replacement. So the Brazilian’s lack of impact was really disappointing.
Instead of providing the extra energy United needed to help get control of the game, Fred looked lost and barely got involved.
In half an hour on the pitch, Fred managed only 12 touches. He didn’t create any chances or attempt any shots, and he failed to make a single tackle or interception.
United have come to expect more from Fred. His last substitute appearance at Old Trafford against Bournemouth was the total opposite, he looked lively and involved, managing more than 40 touches in the same amount of game time.
James and McTominay struggle too
Dan James and Scott McTominay were brought on as tactical switches late in the game, minute 83, and ended up playing 15 minutes as stoppage time went on and on.
Neither player were able to impact the game, and the substitutions actually helped to give initiative to Southampton.
As part of the switch, Bruno Fernandes was taken off, and United were deprived of the team’s key attacking outlet.
James managed only one touch during his time on the pitch, and McTominay also touched the ball just once. Both players gave away fouls.
To see neither get involved at all was really disappointing, and while you can give credit to Southampton for the way they played and made life difficult for United, we expected more from our substitutes.
United’s back-up players are under pressure to show what they can do, and we need them to ease pressure on the first XI. We saw a bit of tiredness and sloppy play all around last night.
So it would be nice for one of United’s bench players to really step up. While there was not much time for McTominay and James to get involved, you would expect they do more than make a solitary touch each.
Along with Fred, their contribution was clearly not what Ole Gunnar Solskjaer intended when he brought them on.
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