Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s managerial flaws would be highlighted during the 2-1 loss to Sheffield United.
Manchester United would come crashing down to earth at Old Trafford last night, losing 2-1 to bottom-of-the-table Sheffield United.
What makes it even worse is that The Blades deserved all three points. To a man, the Red Devils just didn’t turn up. As a manager, it’s your job to put your players in the best position to succeed. Sometimes, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hasn’t done that.
Last night, Solskjaer’s tactical deficiencies would rear their ugly head. Sure, I get it, every team loses games, but to lose in that manner, to go down without fighting, was massively disappointing.
The refusal to make early changes
For me, this is Solskjaer’s biggest weakness. The only way I can describe it is by calling him a robotic substitution-maker. You can almost guarantee subs will be made at the exact same time in each and every circumstance.
United are losing 2-1? Throw someone on with 20 minutes to go. United are winning 2-1? Throw someone on with 20 minutes to go. Last night, the inability to see that pretty much all of the front three were having stinkers, and then refusing to change it, is damning. It’s a bold claim and a big decision, but bring Edinson Cavani on at half-time and I genuinely believe we’d have earned ourselves at least a draw.
In the end, we’d wait too late to make wholesale personnel changes and the game was already lost.
Not switching up the system
Sheffield United were sitting in with a back five all-game long. The only way we were going to break that down is via a set-piece or a moment of magic. We grabbed one goal via a corner but aside from that, we never looked like scoring.
When you’ve got Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba sitting that deep in a home game against the bottom of the league eyebrows are raised. Then not realising you need to push both of them up the field a bit in order to put pressure on the Sheffield United defence, it just tips you over the edge of sheer frustration. It’s just not good enough.
Tinkering too much
Don’t underestimate anyone in the Premier League. Solskjaer did that last night. He used it as a chance to get Alex Telles some minutes, but the Brazilian wasn’t anywhere close to good enough. He was sitting far too deep and that mistake would also cost us late on, as Solskjaer would have to burn a substitute to bring Luke Shaw on, rather than having the opportunity to throw another attacking player on.
Then there’s also Cavani being named on the bench in favour of an out-of-form Anthony Martial. Honestly, what was Solskjaer expecting from the Frenchman who has scored just two league goals this season…?
Stick with what you know.
Solskjaer’s still the right man, though
Sure, we’re piling on Solskjaer a bit today but it’s deserved. We’ll criticise him when we play badly and praise him when we play well. That’s just the nature of the sport.
This isn’t to say Solskjaer should be sacked immediately. Far from it, in fact. However, he, like his squad of players, needs to improve if this Manchester United team wants to win trophies.
Hopefully, he learns from the humbling defeat and delivers a tactical masterclass against Arsenal this weekend.