Thomas Tuchel Outsmarts Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as Paris Saint-Germain Defeat Manchester United at Old…
Manchester United have lost their first game under interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. A 2-0 loss at home to Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie brings to an end an unbeaten run that had seen United win ten and draw one of their 11 games under the Norweigan.
Thomas Tuchel Outsmarts Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
It was clear that this game would be a big ask of United’s centre-backs, Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly, and, unluckily for the Red Devils, they couldn’t keep out PSG’s quick attack. Former United man Angel Di Maria was revitalized in the second half after a push into the Old Trafford advertising boards from Ashley Young threatened to bring a premature end to his night. He managed to cut open the home side’s defence twice with good passes into Presnel Kimpembe and Kylian Mbappe. However, everyone will look at the defence and ask whether Lindelof and Bailly can be the modern Ferdinand and Vidic.
As well as the centre-backs, United’s full-backs weren’t as productive as they have been. Young was caught out several times on United’s right and failed to find attackers. Meanwhile, Luke Shaw couldn’t utilise his pace in an attacking sense for United.
Big wins against Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League had United fans dreaming, as not only did Solskjaer get them the win but managed to outclass the opposition manager tactically. This wasn’t the case against the French champions as Thomas Tuchel adapted to PSG’s major injury losses by playing three at the back. This allowed his wing-backs, Juan Bernat and Dani Alves, to support the team’s attacks while also inhibit any chance of a counter attack for Manchester United.
United, though, stuck to what has to be Solskjaer’s perfect starting eleven. He set United up the same way he did in the previous big games by positioning Jesse Lingard centrally, which allows Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford to attack from the wings. However, this failed to work due to PSG’s wingbacks having a good game, more than anything else. The home side were not helped, though, by injuries to Martial and Lingard, which seemed to disrupt their limited attacking flow.
Paul Pogba Sees Red
One player who has completely turned his career around since the departure of Jose Mourinho is Paul Pogba. You could argue that he has been United’s most influential player with eight goals and six assists under Solskjær. However, he shockingly saw red in the 89th minute after two yellow cards. Some will question United’s naivety as they received six out of the ten yellow cards the referee gave. This was certainly PSG’s priority – to break play. The bigger question is how United will manage without their star man in France.
The Unbeaten Run Comes to an End
The biggest story will, of course, be about United’s near-perfect start under Solskjær coming to an end. The reaction from the defeat is far from surprising. News outlets and rival fans were quick to say this was a reality check for United. It seems the media narrative has switched from optimism to despair regarding Solskjær.
This defeat was slightly shocking considering PSG had no Neymar or Edinson Cavani. However, everyone needs to refrain from labelling the defeat as catastrophic. It should be seen as a lesson for Solskjaer’s team since PSG were the more experienced and better-drilled side. United will just have to be more focused and less clumsy in future games. As for the Champions League, it’s fair to winning it wasn’t United priority. The club still have some players to bring in before they can challenge for the Champions League, therefore a 2-0 defeat to PSG is far from concerning.