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Solskjaer Misses Chance To Build On Man United’s PSG Win In Drab Chelsea Draw

Solskjaer Misses Chance To Build On Man United’s PSG Win In Drab Chelsea Draw

By Raj Chopra.

Manchester United drew 0-0 with Chelsea at Old Trafford in a game that lacked excitement, intensity and any kind of will to win from either team.

United and Chelsea came into this game having shown vulnerabilities in their defence, and were intent on keeping clean sheets as a result. This mindset dominated the game. Chelsea had already conceded nine goals with United conceding 12 in their respective league campaigns.

The favourable form coming into this game was with United, having beaten Newcastle and then outplayed Paris Saint-Germain in their Champions League group opener. Chelsea came into the game having drawn their previous two games with three goals conceded against Southampton.

Although United’s recent vulnerabilities were not on show during this game, the lack of penetration and attacking intent will have frustrated the United faithful. United had four shots on target with Chelsea managing just one.

The United team seen on Wednesday evening against PSG was not at all recognisable against Chelsea.

Manchester United Paris Black And White

Fans of the home side will well be within their right to question a few of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s decisions as it’s clear the changes he made upset his team’s momentum.

The first question that must be asked is why Solskjaer felt he needed to change the line up from the win against PSG.

It’s well understood that Solskjaer prefers a defensive back four as opposed to a three, but the benefits on show and the response from the team against PSG should have persuaded the manager to persist with a back three supported by attacking wing-backs, Alex Telles and Aaron Wan Bissaka.

The one obvious change should have been replacing the suspended Anthony Martial with Edison Cavani.

The 3-4-1-2 formation used against PSG suited United. It was the first time this season they had played with purpose and intensity.

In changing the formation, Solskjaer omitted Alex Tuanzebe, who at 22 years of age commanded the defence against PSG, keeping Kylian Mbappe quiet all evening.

His introduction into the team against PSG resulted in a standout performance, bringing pace and presence, and stability to a frail defence — something the United team had been crying out for.

Solskjaer formation man united

Furthermore, by reverting to the lineup and formation that beat Newcastle, we would be led to believe Solskjaer prefers this as his starting eleven. If this is the case, questions should be asked as to why.

Although Man United beat Newcastle 4-1, they were left far more exposed collectively than they were against PSG. It’s fair to say had Mbappe and Neymar been playing for Newcastle, the scoreline would have been very favourable to Newcastle.

Solskjaer mentioned that he had selected the same 11 players that started against Newcastle because he felt they deserved to be rewarded.

By rewarding the players who played against Newcastle, the Man United boss failed to play his best team. One glaring example is Daniel James who, from 36 appearances in a United shirt, has just three goals and six assists. James form in a United shirt has not been impressive, and you’d have to question why Solskjaer thinks he deserves to start.

The idea of rewarding a winning team in most cases can be understood. However, in United’s case, Solskjaer failed to identify what the win against PSG gave him. It provided him and his inconsistent team a much-needed identity and playing style, neither of which were on show against Chelsea.

United requires a simple approach to team selection and formation. The tinkering of formations and personnel is creating further instability and imbalance in a team that is already under pressure and failing to perform to their potential.

United currently sit in 15th in the league with two wins from five games. They have no wins from three home games, which has not happened to United since 1972.

If Solskjaer keeps upsetting the balance, there may be further unwanted records equalled and broken.


  • comment-avatar
    Sunny 4 years ago

    Ole is all over the place. Even using his own example of rewarding the team from the Newcastle game, Utd scored 3 goals in last 5 minutes after Fred and DJ had been taken off, having failed to score and been lucky to keep Newcastle at 1-1. He sud have rewarded the subs, Pogba and DVB.

    Ole saying rewarding his team, well your last fixture was against PSG, what about that team and the stand out performers there, Axel looked so gutted! 

    Ole set up to not lose the game, Rashford and Utd only game into the game from an attacking point after Greenwood came on, as that was the point when the shape was correct! He put on Cavani and Pogba early, but sent his best playmaker on the right – where he couldn’t influence the game. Ole was a shambles yesterday, not often a managers performance sticks out like this, but I think it really does.

    We are all crying out for some consistency, feel like that won’t happen if we keep doing this. Look at Klopp, he has the same system, high press/high line – he didn’t win for 4 years! He then paid 130 million on a Keeper and CB, kept the system the same and became the best in Europe! 

    We have lacked that kind of vision for years and that doesn’t look like changing anytime soon! Massive shame.

    The game was prob the most bored I’ve been watching Utd, Chelsea were pathetic as well, which was lucky as one another day we would have lost this one!

    Last point, DJ is not a Utd player, he sud move on and build a career some where else. We have got into a habit of investing in non Utd players for years, our Sqd is bloated and we gotta start trimming it down. The subs bench was a joke yesterday, such talent.

    We are not in transition, we are still figuring out what transition means, this could still take some time! 

  • comment-avatar
    Paras 4 years ago

    The game was there for the taking but we did not have the tactical game plan or intensity to break a team down (cannot remember the last time we even put in that type of performance). What we got yesterday was the type of performance which is normal when theres no confidence in a team’s performance in front of there home fans! It seems the stature of Old Trafford is weighing heavy on the players even without fans.

    Basically Ole has set us up to play like the away team in every game, which has never been the UTD way and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. I wanted Ole to try and win the game and by introducing Cavani, Pogba, Greenwood that showed intention but what transpired was a confused attacking approach which all stems to the fact we have no playing philosophy. 

    Still not sure what DVB role is within the team, am sure he is a very good player but why pay £40million for someone thats not being used. I would like someone to explain what role he was supposed to fill when he was brought to the club. As it seems we just bought him in for the sake of having someone. 

    Just throwing on attacking players on the pitch with not with no real strategy/structure shows little footballing intellect. Seems Ole has still not figured out how to play on the front foot and we are now just a counter attacking team.

    The mentality of the game yesterday was a real shame, as thats 2 points dropped in my eyes but i know Ole would see it as 1 point gained and i guess thats the difference in mentality. Guess only positive was that we kept a clean sheet and guess move onto the next game.

  • comment-avatar

    This is amazingly written and I can’t agree more. Ole’s job was in question (possibly still is) but has been overlooked for the sake of stability, yet he denies the team the stability they need to form their identity as you have rightly mentioned. Given we did have a good defensive performance, I wouldn’t be too harsh with his defensive decisions but our attacking decisions were so poor it was almost unbearable to watch, Daniel James is not a player who should be starting in a United game based on his recent performances, then we had the least creative midfield we could have chosen, Fred and Tommy, inexcusable in my opinion, Pogba and Van de Beek deserve more respect. We bought Cavani, who was not started and Van de Beek who has been particularly good given the limited minutes he has been given, yet did not play. I honestly have faith in Ole but he needs to be more decisive and intentional with this team, he can’t keep tinkering with the team every week and expecting good results.