Paul Parker: Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may have made mammoth mistake
Former Manchester United defender Paul Parker analysed the club's embarrassing defensive performance against Istanbul Basaksehir, and laid the blame at the feet of captain Harry Maguire for their disastrous first goal conceded as Demba Ba broke from inside his own half. He also thinks Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may have made a big mistake.
Manchester United's Norwegian coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reacts during the UEFA Champions League football match group H, between Istanbul Basaksehir FK and Manchester United, on November 4, 2020, at the Basaksehir Fatih Terim stadium in Istanbul
Everyone is going to make mistakes, but it’s the manner of the mistake that matters most. Fergie would scream and shout if there was an error, but he would notice how it had come about.
As a player, when something this embarrassing happens, it’s absolutely awful. I had to rewind the play just to work out what had occurred. If it was late in the game and they were chasing a result, then I could understand how it could have happened, but even then I would have expected Dean Henderson to have pushed up closer to the halfway line to sweep in.
To be caught out like that so early in the game is astounding. When you pay such huge sums for players, like Harry Maguire, you expect them to think for themselves and organise the side. Maguire didn’t do that.
In the third phase of play as the attack broke down, you wonder why Maguire didn’t tell Axel Tuanzebe to drop back. You wonder if Henderson shouted to Nemanja Matic to tell him of the danger. Why did neither of those things happen? A mistake like that has never happened when David de Gea has been in goal. United weren’t gambling to score, it was poor communication. The team are looking for leadership from their captain, especially one who is a central defender.
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I am worried about Tuanzebe and how he has been treated by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. He had a great game against Paris Saint-Germain, then had no involvement until the next Champions League game. He got another opportunity last night and then got dragged off. I’d be concerned about how that will affect him mentally. He might wonder why he was subbed when he wasn’t at fault for the goal, and be looking at the £80 million captain alongside him.
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Thinking back to when I lost my place to Gary Neville, I made it clear to the boss I was ready to step back in, but he told me he couldn’t afford to drop him because he didn’t want to undermine Neville’s confidence while he was playing well. At the time I thought it was b*******, but he was absolutely right. Taking Tuanzebe off could be a mammoth mistake in the long term.
United now have the chance to steady the ship at Everton, a side who have been part of the downfall of both David Moyes and then Louis van Gaal. Last night’s game won’t make a big difference to Solskjaer’s employment but league games will be more important.
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The lack of fans could aid United as they travel to Goodison Park. When I went there as a United player, there was hatred. Nowhere near as intense as we’d get from Liverpool, but it’s still there. There’s still the hate between the cities of Manchester and Liverpool. The hostile atmosphere would always be there and because we’d still usually win, an evening kick-off there would be a wonderful place to play.
Their absence will make a difference. It’s now just about the players and how much fight they have in them. It’s not all about kicking people, but being prepared to battle to win is. You have to earn the right to play in games like this.
United have a chance though. Everton have been dreadful in their recent games. It’s gone back to the Everton we’ve come to expect. They have a competitive first eleven, but beyond their best 12 players, you start digging into the squad that Carlo Ancelotti inherited, rather than the one he is building. Modern football, and this is exacerbated by the demands of the coronavirus, doesn’t let you have small squads anymore.
Make no mistake, Everton are unlikely to just roll over despite their troubles. When it’s United, they lift themselves. Solskjaer’s first thought these days seems to be to contain, and instead they would be better served by playing at a high tempo and being positive.