Much Changed Manchester United Stumble To Leicester Loss
A much-changed Manchester United to the one that beat Aston Villa 3-1 just two days ago has slumped to defeat at home to Leicester City in a match that has much bigger ramifications for other teams than it does for United.
By losing the match, City were crowned Champions, sparking absolute scenes at the Etihad where 20 or so supporters turned up to celebrate.
The three points for Leicester helped halt their run of poor form, and sees them strengthen their grip on a Champions League place, most likely at the expense of former champions Liverpool.
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had warned that it would be impossible for those who had played against Villa to play again so soon, so it was no surprise to see the likes of Brandon Williams, Axel Tuanzebe, Alex Telles, Donny van de Beek, Amad, Juan Mata, and Anthony Elanga named in the starting lineup, having not featured much previously this season.
Despite going behind early to a Luke Thomas goal, the inexperienced line-up gave a good showing of themselves, equalising through a Mason Greenwood goal.
Leicester looked much the stronger side however, and took the lead in the 66th minute thanks to a Caglar Soyuncu goal, and held on to take another step towards Champions League qualification.
Solskjaer Still Happy
With the tight turnaround and no time to prepare, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was happy with the performance of his team, and felt they could have nicked a point at the end.
“We started off a bit slow, as you might expect, because they have not had any time to prepare for the game. Maybe there were a couple of nerves but, after they scored, we had nothing to lose and I thought we played some very good stuff and I was pleased with it. We did not have too much time to prepare and we went into half-time quite pleased but then didn’t quite get out of the traps. They got a goal from a corner that was never a corner. It was a throw-in. So that is very disappointing for us. I thought we played well and could have got a point near the end. Maybe we should have created more in the second half but I am happy.”
Fixture Scheduling Unacceptable
Solskjaer was vocal in the lead up to the game, angry that his side needs to play four games in eight days, and he continued to complain after today’s match.
“It can’t be like this again. You can’t play Thursday, Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday – it is impossible. So that’s the reason why we had to make these changes because it is unheard of. I say it again, if this game was tomorrow, no problem and if we have another game on Saturday. If you have two days in between, there is no problem but this is impossible for the players to perform at this level Thursday night, Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday. It is impossible.”
City Set The Standard
Although disappointed to have lost the title to City, Solskjaer was quick to acknowledge their achievement, and understands they currently set the standard that his United side needs to rise to.
“You know if you want to take up the challenge with them, of course we have to strengthen our squad. Congratulations to them, they have had a fantastic season. I’m very pleased with my boys because they have made it into the last 10 days of the season with a Man City team ahead of us, lauded as the best in Europe. So we have done well. But we want to take the next step and it might be that we need a couple more to have a stronger squad.”
“That’s what we want, we want to push them, we want to go one step further. I don’t think it’s a shame when you look at their team, you don’t have to be embarrassed. They’ve had a great season – you’ve got to be big enough to say congratulations and they’re worthy champions – they have played really well this year. We pushed them until the last 10-12 days and that’s quite an achievement after losing three of the first six games. The way we had to start, there’s so many circumstances that made this a difficult season. You can’t win the league in the first eight but can you lose the chance to win the league in the first eight and, when you lose half of your first six games, it’s going to be difficult.”
You won’t find many United fans disappointed in a loss that makes Champions League qualification a tougher task for bitter rivals Liverpool, and attention has already turned to two days time when a stronger United line up can finish the job they started tonight.