By 90Min
February 13, 2019

Manchester United were brought back to earth on Tuesday night with after a wonderful few weeks of 10 wins in 11 games under the management of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer came to a sudden end as Paris Saint-Germain won 2-0 at Old Trafford in the Champions League.

This day was always going to come and there was always a real possibility that it would be the PSG game that finally broke Solskjaer's honeymoon period.

By the Norwegian's own honest admission the game and result will serve as a 'reality check' for him and the team, but it doesn't really change anything in terms of his position at the club and the target for the remainder of this season.

Solskjaer's assessment of the game was spot on.

Michael Steele/GettyImages

"They had the momentum after the first goal and controlled the game. You could see that we hadn't played at this level for a while and we will have to learn," he said.

"It was an experience that can go either way, it's not going to be a season defining one, it's one we have to learn from....Today is a reality check for us."

United were unfortunate on the night. Injuries to Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial late in the first half destroyed the game plan and killed any opportunity to threaten on the counter attack. There were also legitimate questions as to why PSG defender Presnel Kimpembe hadn't been sent off prior to opening the scoring having committed multiple fouls while on a yellow card.


In some eyes, losing the game could even be perceived as circumstantial.

But rather than dwell on misfortune, what United will accept is that they are still short of competing toe to toe with the best in Europe. The absence of the counter attack threat and loss of pace when Lingard and Martial went off highlighted a lack of other options in terms of invention.

Defensively, there are also still question marks, with United crying out for a long-term right-back solution and a central partner for the consistently impressive Victor Lindelof. Overall, however, it is very much a case of tweaking with a handful of carefully selected addition, not a total reset.

This was not a problem of Solskjaer's making. He has so far got the best out of a squad brimming with potential - it may yet steer United to an FA Cup this season and be enough to worry Liverpool later this month - but there is a (temporary?) ceiling and it has been found.

For Solskjaer, one defeat against elite opposition changes nothing. Despite his admirable determination to win everything in front of him - Mauricio Pochettino, take note - the Champions League was only ever a bonus. He is still very much on course to achieve what he set out to do in terms restoring pride and ensuring United are least in the Premier League top four mix.

It also does nothing to take him out of contention to get the job on a permanent basis.

Jean Catuffe/GettyImages

Solskjaer has said and acted in all the right ways ever since being appointed an interim successor to Jose Mourinho in December. He knows the club better than most, is adored by the fans and, most importantly, wants to win above all else.

He fits United more than either of the two 'marquee' appointments that preceded him and, assuming he would be backed in the transfer market, is arguably still a better choice than any of the bigger names out there. The defeat on Tuesday night is irrelevant.

You May Like