Ole Gunnar Solskjaer did not mince his words after Manchester United lost 2-1 at Istanbul Basaksehir in the UEFA Champions League.
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A shambolic defensive performance piled more pressure on Solskjaer, as United were caught time and time again on the counter and their defensive organization was shoddy. And that’s being kind.
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Reflecting on a shocking defeat in their Champions League group stage campaign, Solskjaer could not defend the, erm, defending.
“The performance wasn’t good enough against a team that worked and ran,” Solskjaer told BT Sport. “They hit us on the break a couple of times and scored two goals like you sometimes do in Europe when you don’t defend well enough.
“The first one we forget about the man up top and that’s unforgivable. The second one, we’re not very well organized to counter-press and win the ball back when we’re playing. So two tough goals to give away and then we didn’t have enough to come back second half.”
This defeat was the last thing Solskjaer needed.
If Man United had nicked a draw, we probably wouldn’t be talking about his future. But now we are. Again. Their game at Everton on Saturday (watch live, 7:30am ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) now becomes massive.
What went wrong for Man United?
Solskjaer made a few changes to his team, but this was largely full strength.
Dean Henderson replaced David de Gea in goal, while Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Axel Tuanzebe, Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw lined up at the back. It’s safe to say Victor Lindelof and Alex Telles will be straight back into this team.
Nemanja Matic as the lone holding midfield didn’t work as United’s balance was totally off and they gave a team who were bottom of their group multiple chances to score on the break. It wasn’t good enough and after a narrow defeat to Arsenal, plus shocking defensive displays against Crystal Palace, Tottenham and Brighton, it has been such a mixed bag for United so far this season.
Let’s not forget, they won at PSG and hammered RB Leipzig in their other Champions League games and have shown flashes of improvement defensively in the Premier League. But coming up to two years in the job, there doesn’t seem to be a clear playing style, philosophy or even formation so that the players coming in and out of the team know what they’re doing.
Pochettino waiting in the wings?
A report from the Manchester Evening News states that Mauricio Pochettino is being lined up to replace Solskjaer, but the current Man United boss doesn’t want to get drawn into that.
“I decline to comment on such a thing,” Solskjaer said. “Of course, it’s early on and opinions are out there all the time. You’ve got to stay strong. I’m employed by the club to do a job and I do that to the best of my ability with my staff.”
Solskjaer and Manchester United need to stick with a clear plan, because the way they’re playing, at the back and going forward, is chaotic.