Solskjaer and Fernandes laud Man Utd attacking talent
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This was supposed to be Manchester United on the up. This was supposed to be a Manchester United side that had turned the corner. But there was simply no escaping the sickening tinge of regret that haunted tonight’s second-half display against Atalanta, as the game slowly ran away from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.
“If they go out and play like that again versus Manchester City, they will get beat four or five again,” said Rio Ferdinand.
“What formation were they playing? It was total disarray.”
Crucially, Cristiano Ronaldo saved the day with another moment of sheer brilliance in the dying embers, as he blasted home a volleyed equaliser in added time. He bailed out his manager Solskjaer from another judgement day in this weekend’s Manchester derby.
Make no mistake, another alarming performance or harrowing defeat could see the Norwegian handed his P45.
United looked defensively vulnerable – they were saved by Eric Bailly on a number of occasions – lacking cohesion in attack and passive in possession. This was a performance we have already seen five times over this season.
Solskjaer’s change of formation was designed to inspire a shift in performance and mentality. The experienced heads were supposed to provide a platform to ensure United’s individual quality shined through.
But if anything, this was a display that once again highlighted the glaring flaws and weaknesses in this United side. They remain a team without a plan or idea.
It was a stark contrast from what was on display on Saturday night in Tottenham, when Solskjaer rightly received all the plaudits for his tactical set up and game plan.
Now many may rightly question whether Nuno Espirito Santo’s wretched Spurs side played into United’s hands and handed them an easy night. Was it papering over the cracks?
Either way, the triumph over Tottenham has inadvertently worked against United, who have now missed out on the best fit, ready made replacement for Solskjaer in Antonio Conte.
On the day the Italian signed an initial 18-month contract with Tottenham, United’s hesitance and lack of bravery to pick up the phone and call Conte was punished.
Should Solskjaer fail to keep hold of the wheel, United’s options are uninspiring, incapable and deeply concerning.
Zinedine Zidane does not want the job while mooted outsiders Erik ten Hag and Graham Potter are currently contracted at other clubs.
United have missed their chance with Conte, a world-class tactician with Premier League pedigree, who has the capability of turning this United side into something capable of winning the biggest prizes.
Instead, they’re left with a people-pleaser in Solskjaer, who has quite clearly reached his ceiling as manager of Manchester United, for all the good work he has done.
For that reason, if United had lost tonight in Bergamo, it would have hurt twice as much. But they had a lucky escape.
The players deserved credit for never giving up and fighting until the very last whistle but they have made hard work of a relatively favourable draw in this season’s Champions League. They should have been home and dry.
It was once again a night that truly highlighted the incompetence of the decision makers in the United boardroom.
Conte would immediately shake up this side, stripping
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