There is absolutely no hiding place when it comes to the Champions League. However, we are quite confident that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was searching for one. This was after his team was outsmarted and outclassed by PSG in the first leg of the round of 16 while playing at Old Trafford.
As if being defeated 2-0 by a venomous PSG wasn’t bad enough, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer also had to witness two of his sensational forwards, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard, limp off the pitch with injuries. He also watched as Paul Pogba received a red card in the closing stages of the match. That will rule him out when Manchester United plays the second leg in his home city on 6 March 2019.
Manchester United vs PSG
It was essentially one of those night for Manchester United. The home side went into the match with extremely high optimism. However, the experience and class of PSG shined through against the limitations and naivety of Manchester United.
“This match was essentially a reality check for the level of experience and class from top-tier teams,“ Solskjaer stated. “You can clearly see that we haven’t played matches at this level for a long time. It was an experience that could have gone either way, but it will definitely not be a defining one for the team this season. It’s going to be a match that we will learn a great deal from. Once we make our way to Paris, we will certainly give it a go. There’s no denying that it’s a mountain to climb, but it’s definitely not impossible.”
Since Solskjaer replaced Mourinho in early December 2018, he has done an incredible job as Manchester United’s caretaker manager as he won 10 out of 11 matches and drawing with another. However, this was an evening when reality kicked him hard.
Paris Saint-Germain was missing key players due to injury including Edinson Cavani and Neymar. However, their absence was hardly noticed as Angel Di Maria, Marco Verratti, and Kylian Mbappe helped lead them to victory. That allowed them to get one foot into the quarterfinals of the Champions League.
Solskjaer’s Streak Comes to an End
The unbeaten start by Solskjaer came to an end when he faced PSG as his game plan and selection were both exposed by his opponents. Momentum can only take you that far, and PSG showed the need to win on an unforgiving stage within the Champions League. Solskjaer might have had the tactical plan in the locker room, but it failed to materialise on the pitch that evening in front of a home crowd. Marquinhos was the man-maker on Paul Pogba, who has managed to be the central figure in Manchester United’s resurgence. As you can imagine, Paul Pogba was entirely nullified.
Solskjaer failed the test against PSG in the Champions League, and it seems like he is not the permanent manager we all hoped he would be. However, he still has a chance to turn things around in the next couple of weeks.