Ole Gunnar Solskjær tasted defeat in the Champions league as Paris Saint Germain gained the upper hand with a 2-0 win at Old Trafford.
Solskjær wisely described the match as a reality check, perhaps not for him but for the fans, who’s expectations were growing after such a dramatic turn around in the club’s fortunes.
The United manager will be completely aware of the short fall in class at the top level which saw United overrun and unable to cope with arguably the favourites for the title.
Solskjær took the defeat against Paris Saint Germain with good grace but realised the scale of the task ahead. A team has never progressed after suffering a defeat in the first leg of the knockout stages, so United will make history if they manage that feat at Le Parc des Princes.
— Channels Television (@channelstv) February 13, 2019
Paris Saint Germain are undefeated on home turf, having won 14 out of their 15 matches, with one draw, scoring 51 goals and conceding just 8 in the process.
All of this is bad enough and then you learn that Paul Pogba will be suspended for the next game and Anthony Martial and Jessie Lingard may also be missing through injury.
Suddenly, the hill turns into a mountain and the chances of progressing, although slim, are similar to a man trying to catch fish with an open toed sandal.
Pogba was arguably the best player in a red shirt and his form has been excellent of late, justifying himself as a genuine world class player. His exclusion will certainly favour Paris Saint Germain.
For those, that are about to turn on the United Manager and there will be a few, need to appreciate just what he has achieved in a short space of time, being unbeaten in 11 straight games with 10 wins.
When he took over United, they looked as if a 6th place finish would be their sum total for the season. Players weren’t performing and morale was low and few saw any chance of recovery.
Solskjær turned that around, breezing in with a renewed spirit and vision, which felt like he had reconnected the club with itself.
In terms of this defeat, it’s clear United and their manager lack experience in the Champions league and the unfolding events during the United Vs Paris Saint Germain game didn’t exactly help the cause.
You can’t legislate for the circumstances and United will have to regroup quickly, with vital games in the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League ahead.
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Despite my misgivings, Solskjær has given a decent account of himself and has steered the club back on course. However, he has problems to solve. The balance of the side may need re-evaluating in the summer, with players coming and going because they have similar players in certain positions and only 11 spaces on a match day.
This was Mourinho’s downfall, apart from his attitude. He just couldn’t fit all the jewels into a single crown and to a degree, certain players cancelled others out.
That’s the long term but for a club of United’s stature, the champions league is crucial and failure in the short term, may have some impact on Solskjær’s future.
He may have to win something to stay in the chair because, although it’s early days, the pressure of winning with a club like United is phenomenal.
Can they afford to bide their time and be patient, waiting for the good times, whilst other clubs at domestic and European levels forge ahead.
Well. United did that with Ferguson and that did not end too badly as the Scot became the most decorated manager in the club’s history and in England.
I’d like to think he gets the chance because United have the talent, ambition and drive to do well in all competitions but it’s down to time. How much does Solskjær have ?