‘It’s not going to be 0-0, I can guarantee it’s not going to be 0-0. It’s two teams who want to attack and attack as quickly as they can. We know that when we attack they’re very dangerous on the counter-attack and vice-versa.’
These were Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s words before today’s game against Leeds United at Elland Road. The result? 0-0.
What is even more disappointing was the nature of that 0-0 draw. Frankly, it never looked like being anything other than a stalemate and what was worse, the manager failed to see that when he picked the side, and when he chose to not make substitutions at half time or on the hour mark and when he left the bang average McFred – Fred and Scott McTominay – on the pitch for the whole 90 minutes when the game was begging to be won.
There has been a lot of criticism since Solskjaer took the helm at Old Trafford about his inability to break down the deep block – a defence that plays with a deep back line or ‘parks the bus’, at has come to be known. There has also been a lot of criticism of his poor team rotation and tendency to make substitutions too late. This game had examples of all three.
United once again seemed to have no ‘Plan B’ against a stubborn Leeds defence when the ‘long ball over the back of the defence’ tactic was nullified by the deep line. This also nullified the one reason Solskjaer might have had for starting the woefully inept Dan James, whose only discernible talent is that he can run fast and get behind a high back line.
Summer signing Donny van de Beek, considered by many to be one of the most promising young midfielders in the world, must wonder what he has to do to get a start in this United side. He should have been used far more often earlier in the season so that if Pogba were to be rested, as he was today, there would have been a quality replacement available.
Of course, a manager can be allowed to get his tactics and his starting line-up wrong occasionally, and as his own pre-match comments confirm, nobody, least of all Solskjaer, expected the usually adventurous Marcelo Bielsa to adopt such a defensive strategy. But there is no excuse for not making changes sooner. As @Vintage_Utd tweeted, ‘Considering he was one of the best super subs in the history of football,’ it is hard to ‘understand why it takes Ole so long to make changes.’
Paul Pogba – 18 minutes.
Edinson Cavani – 9 minutes.
Donny van de Beek – 5 minutes.
Considering he was one of the best super subs in the history of football, I really don’t understand why it takes Ole so long to make changes. He needs to start making them a lot more quicker.
— Ryan. ???? (@Vintage_Utd) April 25, 2021
United got an away point against a tricky side today, but it was the display that disappointed rather than the result. There were plenty of average, poor and diabolical performances from the United side, but arguably the worst of all came from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.