Yet another season ends with Ole Gunnar Solskjær bereft of a trophy and this time around there was much that the Norwegian gaffer could have done differently.
The Europa League final in Poland ended 1-1 after added time, courtesy of goals from Gerard Moreno and Edinson Cavani. The ensuing penalty shootout was a long-drawn affair with David De Gea’s mistake being the difference-maker.
However, Solskjær could have been smarter in his approach during the crucial fixture.
1. Substitute Jumble
Solskjær undoubtedly missed a valuable opportunity when it came to making substitutes, especially at points when United were having the upper hand. By delaying his changes, the lineup was clearly too tired to make a real attempt at goal by the time extra time rolled around.
In contrast, Unai Emery was smart and ensured that his changes left fresh feet on the pitch at almost all instances, particularly when it came to rotating his full-backs. Solskjær’s key changes, however, only occurred keeping the penalty shootout in mind and even that was arguably a wrong decision.
2. Van-Gaal Style Change
The gaffer ought to have really taken a gamble with his last change and brought off De Gea, whose record with penalties is abysmal, and fielded Dean Henderson instead.
This was done to much acclaim by Louis Van Gaal in the World Cup when Tim Krul was brought on in place of Cilleson and worked brilliantly. Given how the Spaniard did not save any penalties on the night and even participated in the missed kick that made all the difference in the end, this was surely a lost opportunity.
3. Rashford Mistake
It was evident that Marcus Rashford was not having his best game early on itself. To add to that, the slight knock that the Englishman picked up clearly took the steam out of his efforts as well.
As such, a tactical substitution would have certainly involved bringing Rashford off and replacing him with the kind of pace that Daniel James could have brought to the attack. A real missed opportunity.