How Will Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Handle His First Manchester United Blip?

How Will Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Handle His First Manchester United Blip?
11:18, 17 Mar 2019

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Manchester United press conferences since he arrived at Old Trafford have all followed a familiar pattern.

There will be a smile, a joke, a mention of a player by their nickname and probably a reference to The Boss (Sir Alex Ferguson). If you're really lucky, he'll mention the Camp Nou. Solskjaer's breezy demeanour was all the more endearing given the notorious pressers given by Jose Mourinho were prickly affairs which always felt like they were going to boil over at any moment.

The "baby-faced assassin" has had plenty to enthuse about since he replaced the grumpy one in December and his joyous reaction to United's remarkable Champions League win in Paris was simply brilliant.

His apparent wish to hit the reset button on all things Mourinho saw Paul Pogba given the captain's armband at Molineux but the French World Cup winner appeared - like many of his team-mates - strangely subdued.

Yet after Saturday night's FA Cup defeat against Wolverhampton Wanderers, anyone playing Solskjaer Presser Bingo would have been unable to get a line let alone a full-house. He was clearly disappointed with the way his side went into their shell against Wolves and his trusted attacking frontline seemed strangely subdued. It also marked the first time that United had lost back-to-back game since Mourinho left.

Solskjaer's damning assessment of the evening came as something of a surprise given the kind of positivity he's been known for. He told the Manchester United website: "This was the poorest we've played. We started too slowly and played into their hands. Our possession wasn't bright enough and quick enough, so it's disappointing.

"This was a big step backwards, mainly because of the quality of the possession and the passing.

"We've had a great run and now we've had two defeats. Against Arsenal we just couldn't score, and this was poor."

While clearly disappointed with the FA Cup exit, Solskjaer and United have an exciting end to the season to look forward to. Their thrilling win over PSG has set up a huge Champions League quarter final against Barcelona and the race for a top four finish remains very much on. That said, if Lionel Messi and his colleagues caught any of this game, they will be already planning for the semi-finals.

Two defeats in a week wouldn't normally be too much of a concern but Solskjaer has been a victim of his own success and now every defeat or below-par performance will be treated as a "mini crisis." He has the international break to refocus his players but there is no doubt this is his first speedbump since taking the wheel.

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