3 things Solskjaer got badly wrong as Man Utd play out bore draw
Manchester United booked their place in the last-16 of Europa League, but failed to impress in a 0-0 stalemate with Real Sociedad.
In truth, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men had got the job done in the first leg, stunning the La Liga outfit with a 4-0 win in Turin.
The United boss named a surprisingly strong line-up for what always looked a non-event, with the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Victor Lindelof and Aaron Wan-Bissaka all starting.
Sociedad had the best chance of the first half, when Mikel Oyarzabal missed a penalty following a Dan James foul.
Solskjaer rang the changes at half-time and one of those substitutes, Axel Tuanzebe, thought he had opened the scoring, only for the referee to disallow the goal for a foul by Victor Lindelof after consulting VAR.
Youngsters Amad and Shola Shoretire were given cameos as the minutes ticked by, but in truth it was nothing more than a training match in the second period.
United are in tomorrow's draw, but Solskjaer could be left ruing a number of controversial selection decision on what was otherwise a comfortable night at the office.
No start for Axel
This felt like a night where Solskjaer could have further assessed his options at the centre of his defence.
There is little the United boss doesn't know about Victor Lindelof, his strengths are clear for everyone, while his flaws have been exposed on a number of occasions.
Solskjaer will likely be venturing into the transfer market at the end of the season, with a central defender at the top of his wishlist.
So why not give Axel Tuanzebe and Eric Bailly 90 minutes to properly stake their claim for a more regular starting berth?
Bailly was handed the start alongside Lindelof, but Tuanzebe had to make do for a place on the bench, despite the fact he has played just 510 minutes in all competitions.
When he did come on, he impressed in centre midfield, but it felt a missed opportunity for United to have another look at the players behind his first choice pairing.
Similarly to his starting central defenders, at right-back, Aaron Wan-Bissaka has displayed his credentials time and time again.
In fact, he's played in all but three of United's games in all competitions. Brandon Williams meanwhile has been left frustrated on the sidelines after a promising breakthrough season last term.
The 20-year-old had played just 600 minutes going into the game, but only added 45 to that tally, with the first choice right-back handed the start.
On the other flank, Luke Shaw's game has come on exponentially with the knowledge that Alex Telles is breathing down his neck.
While the gap between Wan-Bissaka and Williams is larger, it would have still been an interesting exercise to see what Solskjaer had in reserve.
Baffling Bruno decision
Since Manchester United’s first game after Project Restart on June 19 last year, Fernandes has now played 51 times.
It’s a workload that appears unsustaiable. Particularly for a player whom United’s season almost exclusively relies upon.
It’s very difficult to ever leave the Portuguese superstar out of the starting line-up. But if ever there was a night to wrap him up in cotton wool and let him put his feet up, this was it.
4-0 up from the first-leg, this was never going to be a competitive exercise. He may have wanted a night as captain, he likely will have wanted to play regardless.
But United could still have another 23 fixtures before the season is done.
On the face of it, it was a nonsensical decision to start the club’s most important player in what was nothing more than a dead rubber.
With Chelsea at the weekend, Red Devils fans will hope to see a fresh Fernandes, otherwise questions will surely be asked.
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