Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer liked his team’s effort in a 2-1 Europa League semifinal ouster at the hands of Sevilla on Sunday.
But effort means little without a win, even considering that United was superior to Sevilla in generating 20 chances to Sevilla’s nine, and Solskjaer mused that the side needs more savvy and wisdom to win on the big stage.
United captain Harry Maguire cited inexperience in United’s loss, perhaps hinting at errors from fullbacks Aaron Wan-Bissaka (22) and Brandon Williams (19) on Sevilla’s two goals.
Solskjaer saw that in several parts of the game.
“We have a young team,” Solskjaer said, via ManUtd.com. “We had three years average less than them and I thought some spells today maybe showed that. This group of players will have to learn and get some consistency in the play. When we got the ball down and pressed and created counterattack chances it was scintillating at times. Their keeper had a fantastic game. It’s disappointing we didn’t score because we know we’ve got players who have got that quality.”
Sevilla keeper Bono was marvelous, but the manager ought to admit that his own inexperience has hurt United on the big stage, too. His lineup choice and tactics against Chelsea in the FA Cup semifinal were criticized, and Julen Lopetegui’s subs and changes helped Sevilla find footing after United’s early second-half dominance hit a lull.
Solskjaer didn’t make any chances until three in the 87th minute, and if he was looking for experience he could’ve found it earlier through Juan Mata, Nemanja Matic, and Odion Ighalo. Jesse Lingard’s out-of-form but has had some big cup performances for United as well.
In his defense, Solskjaer’s men did not get the rub of the green from the referees. Solskjaer was vexed by a wrongly-awarded throw-in to Sevilla in the run-up to the winning goal and a possible unawarded second penalty to the Red Devils for a foul on Bruno Fernandes.
“It was our throw-in 100 percent, but that’s what I mean about experience, when you don’t get it you can’t stop, you’ve got to stick with the game,” Solskjaer said. “We know it’s our throw-in but it still ends up on the other side of pitch and they get a cross in so you can’t say that is the reason.”
The loss serves as the club’s third semifinal exit from a tournament this season.
A team has to be good to get to three semifinals, but losses to Man City (League Cup), Chelsea (FA Cup), and now Sevilla show just how far United has left to become a champion.
“I’ve never had three semifinals in one season and that [losing them all] is one of those things you’re disappointed with as well,” Solskjaer said. “We are working to improve what we have. We’ve had spells with injuries and we’ve had spells where players have played a lot. We’re always looking to improve the squad.”