Manchester United have been revitalized under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer but they didn’t show any signs of that against PSG as they were outplayed comfortably at Old Trafford. FOX Sports Asia reviews the match.
5. Big match nerves
Manchester United have been under a cloud of negativity for so long that an occasion such as this, against one of Europe’s better teams, seemed almost foreign to them. The players didn’t really get going and the fast and direct play that has been a hallmark of the team since Solskjaer took over was conspicuously missing.
Too many passes went astray and the players seemed lost and devoid of purpose for the most part.
Against PSG, who have players with massive Champions League experience, that was always going to be a recipe for disaster.
4. The honeymoon period is over
United may have racked up 10 victories in 11 matches under Solskjaer but the bubble of invincibility that had enveloped Old Trafford was popped by an efficient and ruthless PSG side.
How the English giants will dust themselves off and pick themselves back up after this will have be, arguably, the most revealing act in Solskjaer’s dream managerial stint so far.
United’s response in navigating the remainder of the fixtures in February could go a long way in determining if the Norwegian remains in the job next season.
3. PSG are a force to reckon with
PSG will almost certainly face sterner tests than a Manchester United side that’s finding its feet going forward in the Champions League (which seems to be quite likely), but their showing at Old Trafford seemed to suggest a massive improvement from the team that squandered a 4-0 lead against Barcelona not too long ago.
They were composed, efficient and showed appreciable tactical nous despite playing without 2 of their 3 best players in Neymar and Edinson Cavani.
2. Manchester United need key additions
Beating teams like Fulham – no disrespect to them – is well within the grasp of the current crop of players that Manchester United has. However, against a true test like PSG, United’s lack of elite quality was exposed in certain positions.
Alexis Sanchez and Juan Mata struggled after having come on for Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard but more importantly, it was a bizarre lapse in focus from Nemanja Matic that was directly responsible for Kimpembe scoring PSG’s first of the night.
For a defensive midfielder, that he suddenly stopped tracking his man’s run inside the penalty box during a corner is utterly unacceptable.
United’s lack of quality from the wings was also exposed as Ashley Young and Luke Shaw didn’t manage one threatening cross between them all game.
If United ever hope to return to glory days of old, they need to repair key positions in their squad.
1. An intriguing second leg
The tie is already beyond Manchester United’s grasp in many people’s estimation, and rightly so, but this is football and anything can happen in a game of football.
If United are to progress in the tie, they have to go to Le Parc de Princes and claim an outright victory against the home team, who may also have Neymar and Cavani back in the mix by then.
It sounds impossible on paper, but for a club of Manchester United’s history, it could still be one of those magical European nights where they come back from the dead to accomplish the impossible.
However, they will have to do it without Paul Pogba who was sent off and, possibly, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard both of whom pulled up.