Manchester United is the only English Premiership team in the Champions League that still hasn’t secured its spot in the knockout stage. Many believe Ole Gunnar Solskajer’s decisions directly brought the Red Devils in this position.
While Chelsea, Liverpool, and Manchester City smoothly cruised into the Round of 16, clinching their berths before the final matches, Manchester United will have one very rough challenge in order to catch up with their Premier League rivals.
The Red Devils are traveling to Germany, and they need to stay unbeaten against RB Leipzig to avoid elimination. Even though Man Utd demolished the Bulls in the first leg, this will be a completely different match, with Julian Nagelsmann’s side playing much better at home.
On the other hand, Solskjaer’s side showed two faces in the Champions League. In Paris, they defeated PSG, 1-2, but United lost in Istanbul against Basaksehir, 2-0, which is arguably the biggest sensation of the entire competition.
Apart from that, what concerns the fans is the fact that some of Solskjaer’s recent decisions haven’t been logical at all. The most recently led his team to a defeat against PSG, complicating United’s position in Group H.
The Brazilian international Fred received a yellow card in the 23rd minute due to his unsportsmanlike conduct and debate with the referee. It was evident that the midfielder’s behavior will earn him a second yellow card and an automatic exit, but Solskjaer didn’t change anything.
Some of the English media suggest that the Norwegian manager saw some of his players calling him during the match, demanding to replace Fred, who became a liability at some point. They would even show footage of Bruno Fernandes shouting towards the bench, implying that the Portuguese advised his manager to pull Fred out.
However, nothing happened. One minute following Marquinhos’ goal and PSG’s new lead, 1-2, Fred received a second yellow card after a foul, and that was the end of all hopes for United that they might avoid a defeat in this contest.
With at least a draw here, they would have the edge over PSG in head-to-head events and three points more than the Parisians, making the entire situation about their trip to the next stage a done deal. Regardless of their match in Leipzig, Man Utd would be at least second, and the journey to Germany would be without any pressure whatsoever.
Right now, their morale is damaged, with the potential to be even worse, as they have a nasty road match coming up on Saturday against West Ham.
Solskjaer’s stubbornness could even cost him his managerial place in United. If the club from Old Trafford fails to reach the knockout stage, that would be a massive disappointment, although Group H was undoubtedly the toughest one in the UCL.
A part of the fanbase is already against the Norwegian, and as time goes by, that group is slowly becoming bigger and bigger.
All the United’s troubles are looking even saltier for them, with the remaining three rivals from the EPL confidently solving all of their hurdles at this stage. Furthermore, Liverpool, Chelsea, and Manchester City are all going to finish at the top place in their respective assemblies.