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Manchester United produced one of their most anaemic performance away from home in Europe on Wednesday night when they went down 2-1 to Istanbul Basaksehir in Turkey.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was getting some respite from the Champions League, away from his side’s struggles in the Premier League, but that ended in Istanbul last night. Some of the most shambolic pieces of defending in the first half saw Basaksehir take a two-goal lead in the first half.
Anthony Martial’s goal just before the break gave the Red Devils hope but there was little in their performance in the second half that suggested that they would get back in the game.
Manchester United never looked like scoring in the second half despite all the possession and suffered a meek defeat away from home in the Champions against the whipping boys of their group.
#3 No defensive organisation
Manchester United’s defence has not covered themselves in glory this season but performances improved following their 6-1 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford last month.
However, the shambolic nature of their defending came back in Istanbul last night. Istanbul Basaksehir’s first goal was a result of bad defending that one is unlikely to see in Sunday Leagues or even in the Under-10s.
One simple long ball bypassed every Manchester United outfield player and found Demba Ba alone in Basaksehir’s own half and the veteran striker who was free to trot towards the goal and score past Dean Henderson.
The team’s set up to negate the counter-attack was non-existent and how Nemanja Matic ends up as the only Manchester United player chasing Ba continues to baffle everyone.
Defending for the second goal was not any better but there were more Manchester United men chasing the ball.
#2 The wrong players were subbed off
With the team down 2-1 in the first half, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer threw Scott McTominay on in place of Axel Tuanzebe during the break. But the problems started when Donny van de Beek was taken off for Paul Pogba and Juan Mata left the pitch for Edinson Cavani.
Manchester United hogged the ball in the second half but they didn’t have the players in the middle who could circulate the ball at pace in the middle of the park.
Van de Beek and Mata could have done exactly that. Nemanja Matic was kept on the pitch but he could have easily made for Pogba, who could have played in a deep playing making a role against an Istanbul Basaksehir side playing in a low block.
Cavani came on but he could have done little as Manchester United continued to play sideways throughout the second half and put in very few balls into the box from the flanks that the Uruguayan could have gone at the end of.
Bruno Fernandes looked off the boil and could have easily been taken off with Van de Beek playing on. But Solskjaer kind of made all the wrong decisions when it comes to his substitutions.
#1 Question marks over Solskjaer’s future at Manchester United return
A horrible start to the season coupled with the 6-1 defeat at home to Tottenham last month seemed to have put Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on the brink at Manchester United last month.
But wins over Newcastle, Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig eased the pressure on the Norwegian and the Red Devils looked like shaking off their early-season cobwebs.
But a defeat to Arsenal at home last weekend and an anaemic performance against Istanbul Basaksehir on Wednesday night has put the scanner on Solskjaer again.
Manchester United looked rudderless in the second half as they looked to get back into the game. There were a lot of sideways passing without any penetration and the Red Devils looked like a team without a plan or a set pattern of play that could have broken down Basaksehir.
They again struggled against a team who sit back and at the moment Manchester United look like a team who can only play on the counter. Questions are being raised over what Solskjaer has been doing in training with the players in training as the problems for his side have remained the same over the last 18 months.
With an international break looming, Manchester United need a win at Everton at the weekend to change the headlines around Solskjaer. But if they lose the Norwegian could be in trouble and anyone noticed the return of Mauricio Pochettino on British TV this week?