Manchester Utd

Manchester United's worst performances under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

The Norwegian has been in charge two years but for every step forward, there have been many, many steps back

8:01am on Thursday 10th December 2020
Paul Macdonald

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been in charge of Manchester United for two years, and during that time his team have performed well on big occasions.

But they've also performed dismally in others, and the Champions League exit to RB Leipzig was the latest in a long line of failures for the Norwegian's side.

Let's have a look at a few others.

1. Man Utd 1-3 Chelsea, 19 July 2020

United arrived at Wembley on a 19-game unbeaten run which saw them favourites in an FA Cup semi-final bout with Frank Lampard’s Chelsea. However, Solskjaer paid for his team selection as Bruno Fernandes was overpowered in midfield and United had no punch in attack.

The Norwegian boss had decided to leave the potency of Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood on the bench, along with Paul Pogba. Solskjaer also ditched his usual cup keeper Sergio Romero to keep faith with David De Gea, who produced horrendous errors either side of half-time to gift Chelsea two goals.

The Spaniard made a flimsy attempt to deal with Olivier Giroud's flick then weakly fumbled Mason Mount's tame 20-yard shot into the net. With 16 minutes left, the dreadful performance was made complete when captain Harry Maguire diverted Marcos Alonso's cross in at the near post.

Bruno Fernandes did manage to pull a goal back from the penalty spot, but it was hardly a consolation as Chelsea comfortably closed out the win.

2. Man Utd 1-6 Spurs, 4 Oct 2020

Solskjaer was taken to school by ex-United manager Jose Mourinho in a thrashing on par with the 6-1 defeat to Man City in 2011.

United were completely outplayed, even before they were reduced to 10 men midway through the first half when Anthony Martial dragged his hand across Erik Lamela's face, in reaction to an elbow to his neck.

Son Heung-min and Harry Kane scored twice, with Tanguy Ndombele and Serge Aurier also on target as United forgot how to defend. Solskjaer was criticised for being naive as his side refused to opt for damage limitation rather than the humiliation that took place.

The result was not only the heaviest defeat since the United manager took temporary charge in December 2018, but also the largest United have suffered since Ed Woodward took over as executive vice-chairman in 2013. The result left United 16th in the Premier League, with newly-promoted Fulham and West Brom the only clubs with a worse goal difference.

4. Istanbul Basaksehir 2-1 Man Utd, 4 Nov 2020

On the back of impressive wins against RB Leipzig and PSG in the group stage, three points against Champions League new boys Istanbul Basaksehir should have been a formality.

But a common pattern re-emerged for Solskjaer’s team. Just as they look like they had turned a corner, it all came crashing down once more. The first goal conceded in this one, scored by 35-year-old Demba Ba, was one of the most calamitous United fans will have ever seen.

United had a corner which they played short and took their time getting into the box, the ball eventually dropped loose and allowed Edin Visca to punt a long pass upfield. With United's defence nowhere to be seen, Ba dribbled up to keeper Dean Henderson from the halfway line before coolly rolling in Basaksehir's first ever goal in the competition.

United fans have sang about Ba in the terraces since 2014, when he burst through at Anfield to score the goal from Steven Gerrard's infamous slip, but he returned to punish them on this occasion. United's defensive efforts for the second goal were almost as bad, Deniz Turuc dispossessing Juan Mata and finding Visca in acres of space inside the box to smash home.

Despite this, when Anthony Martial headed in from a Luke Shaw cross two minutes before the interval it seemed inevitable that United would complete the comeback, but they could not salvage a result with a shabby second half performance.

5. RB Leipzig 3-2 Man Utd, 8 December

Solskjaers’s men worked tirelessly to claw their way back into the top four last season and so it would have been a waste for them to get relegated to the Europa League.

And despite being drawn into the ‘group of death’, Manchester United travelled to Germany knowing that a mere point would see them progress into the knockout rounds.

The Reds got off to the worst start imaginable; a shambolic defensive showing began with on-loan Manchester City full-back Angelino and Amadou Haidara putting Leipzig two up inside 15 minutes. The goals were almost identical with crosses from one side to the other over the top of the crowded goal mouth and a failure to mark the oncoming players from out wide resulting in a two-goal deficit.

Yet, the third was even more appalling. What looked a simple cross to deal with seemed to baffle the United backline. Harry Maguire strangely misjudges the direction of the ball and David De Gea appears to make himself smaller to avoid injury rather than saving Justin Kluivert’s shot on goal.

Two late goals for United provided a bit of hope in the dying embers, but it was far too little too late. Pressure on Ole now at an all-time high.

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