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Home > U.K-NEWS > Young Boys 2-1 Manchester United: Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s tactical decisions are examined after defeat | Football News

Young Boys 2-1 Manchester United: Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s tactical decisions are examined after defeat | Football News

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer applauds the Manchester United fans after their 2-1 defeat to Young Boys in the Champions League
Young Boys 2-1 Manchester United: Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s tactical decisions are examined after defeat |  Football News

Manchester United have taken home a playful home, signed one of the match’s greatest defenders and added one of the brightest prospects in European football. But at the highest level, matches can still be lost from the bench and this was one of them.

It was Jesse Lingard’s erased back-pass that allowed the Young Boys to complete a dramatic 2-1 victory at this Champions League opener. It was Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s lung that left his team down to 10 men and changed the course of the evening.

But it was Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær whose tactical decisions ensured that the Swiss side deserved the points.

Everything had seemed to be planned when Cristiano Ronaldo – who else? – brought United ahead within the opening quarter. But the red card to Wan-Bissaka late in the first half put the responsibility back on the manager. Things started to loosen up.

Jesse Lingard’s error deep in stoppage time lost the match for Manchester United

The first decision to replace Jadon Sancho with Diogo Dalot was explicable. United needed a right back on the pitch. The subsequent step to switch to a back-three at half-time, which brought Raphael Varane to Donny van de Beek, was far from necessary.

Solskjær’s side went into containment and tried to defend their lead goal with a goal, but showed little appetite to do more than that. United did not even muster a shot after 25 minutes in a match in which their opponents had 19 of them.

Their total of two shots is the fewest they have had in any of their 138 Champions League matches since Opta started recording such things in the 2003/04 season.

“Manchester United could not get out of their half,” said Paul Merson Sky Sports.

“If it was Manchester City with ten men, the Young Boys would not have touched the ball.”

Some may find it hard to judge the performance once Wan-Bissaka had been sent off, but the one-man advantage enjoyed by the Young Boys hardly deserved such caution, so lack of ambition. Better teams would have offered more.

“Look at the replacements,” Merson added.

“You want the ball to go the other way, because if the ball goes the other way, your opponents can’t push the game. That’s all the Young Boys did. They pushed up to the halfway line because there was no threat behind.

“Without that threat, you are not going to win too many football matches. If you want to bring Ronaldo off, take on Mason Greenwood because he has the pace.”

Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo, left, looks disappointed after Young Boys scored
Cristiano Ronaldo was helpless to prevent Young Boys from equalizing

Ronaldo’s fans have spent much of the last fourteen days explaining how this once complete footballer has become more of a penalty boxing sniper in the final stages of his career. It was of no use as United did not come close to the penalty box.

Solskjær waited until after the equalizer had gone in before withdrawing Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes – only to replace them with Nemanja Matic and Jesse Lingard. This was not about changing momentum, it was about hanging on to the draw.


In the absence of any attack threat, the Young Boys could continue to dominate. Still, with Varane, Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof repelling everything that was thrown into the area, it looked like United would hang out – until Solskjaer’s last shot.

Apparently realizing the need to add some sort of counter-attack threat, or perhaps in an attempt to waste time, the final transition was made – the introduction of Anthony Martial to Fred. The move required Lingard to fall into a deeper role. It had consequences.

It was from there and found himself in the unusual position that Lingard made the mistake that ultimately allowed the Young Boys to win the game. It felt more like the culmination of a series of controversial tactical decisions that conspired to send United to defeat.

Young boys' Jordan Pefok, left, scores his side's second goal of the match past Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea
Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea was unable to stop the winner

David Wagner’s Young Boys had been considered outsiders in this group, but the hope will now be that they can cause another uproar or two. If Atalanta and Villarreal do double over them, it will put a lot of pressure on United in their remaining matches.

This is the first match of six in this Champions League group. There is time to turn things around, the opportunity to recover after a disappointing start. United are at the top of the Premier League table. That alone shows that they are capable of coming up with results.

And yet they have not convinced since the opening victory over Leeds.

“Manchester United have not started,” Merson added.

“Against the Wolves they were very lucky. Against Newcastle, when it was 1-1, it was a head-or-tail game. It could easily have gone Newcastle’s way.”

He could also have mentioned the draw against Southampton.

United still feel they are less than the sum of their shares.

Sunday, September 19 at

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“Ole has built a squad that should be able to win the best prizes,” said United legend Paul Scholes, speaking further BT Sport. “There is not much difference between the four best teams, the only difference is probably in the managers.”

Sometimes matches win with moments of individual brilliance. Manchester United have plenty of players capable of that. But sometimes matches have to be won by the manager. The suspicion is still that United’s rivals have a coach more likely to do so.

This defeat was an unwelcome reminder of how it could cost them.

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