Three things Solskjaer got wrong and one he got right as Man City beat Man Utd

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Manchester City strolled to a 2-0 away victory at Manchester United as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side’s troubles repeated themselves at Old Trafford.

Just as they did in the 5-0 humiliation against Liverpool, United fell behind early as Eric Bailly rashly cleared Joao Cancelo’s cross into his own net after seven minutes.

City had numerous chanced to double their lead, but David De Gea at times looked unbeatable in the United goal, producing top quality saves repeatedly.

However, Pep Guardiola’s side doubled their lead just before half-time, as Cancelo’s menacing in-swinging cross bamboozled Luke Shaw and De Gea, but not the on-rushing Silva, who prodded home through the Spanish goalkeeper at the back post.

United improved in the second half but Solskjaer's men rarely laid a glove on City, who were able to bounce back from their defeat at home to Crystal Palace in impressive fashion.

Daily Star sport considers three things Solskjaer got wrong and one he got right after yet another defeat.

Can Ole Gunnar Solskjaer lead United into the top four? Comment below

The 3-4-1-2 system

Since their embarrassment against Jurgen Klopp’s side, Solskjaer has deployed United in a 3-4-1-2 formation, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw acting as the wing-backs.

However, the lack of tracking back from Bruno Fernandes and Mason Greenwood resulted in the two English full backs receiving no protection whatsoever.

Kyle Walker and Cancelo enjoyed the freedom of Old Trafford in the wide areas. Fernandes barely stood in front of Cancelo, as his international compatriot easily whipped in an out-swinging cross that was clumsily diverted into the United net by Bailly.

Wan-Bissaka has often looked uncomfortable in the wing-back position and his poor positioning in the build-up to Jesus’ chance gave Phil Foden and easy route to De Gea’s goal.

Guardiola’s side routine switching of the play resulted in the United defence being pulled from one side of the pitch to the other, and the Reds rarely had an answer.

And the second goal also came from United’s wide open wide areas. They doubled their lead just before half-time, with Cancelo the architect and Silva squeezing his effort in at the far post.

With United trailing by two goals in the second-half, Solskjaer overhauled the system and returned to a back four by introducing Jadon Sancho for Bailly, but it did not improve their fortunes, as City still controlled the ball.

If Solskjaer thought he had the solution to his problems, he may need to think of another plan.

Ronaldo and Greenwood as a partnership

The extra defender needed for a three-man defence means an attacker must be sacrificed.

With counterattacking appearing to be at the forefront of Solskjaer’s strategy, Mason Greenwood was deployed alongside Ronaldo as a striking partnership.

But they were frequently isolated, as City’s counter-pressing suffocated the United midfield and defenders and penned them into their own half.

United’s only route into the two forwards was via long pass over the top or through City’s midfield.

Unfortunately, neither Greenwood or Ronaldo are known for their abilities to hold the ball up and were thus easily picked off by Ruben Dias and John Stones.

Edinson Cavani’s intelligent positioning and strength would arguably make him more equipped to jostle with Dias’ physicality, but Solskjaer instead turned to the pace of Sancho in the second half.

Greenwood returned to the right wing, and he was able to get himself into more dangerous positions in the second half.

The McTominay and Fred problem

Scott McTominay and Fred were once again partnered together and once again they looked extremely wobbly.

United’s midfield regularly found themselves in a no man’s land of neither pressing high or dropping deep to cut out the space in behind.

It meant Guardiola’s side could choose between playing through the lines, around the penalty area, or even the odd long ball over the top.

United fans have grown impatient at McTominay and Fred, as their solidity and midfield protection continues to wither.

A new central midfielder has been regularly demanded by supporters and pundits alike, and with the January transfer window coming up, United may decide to act on their wishes.

De Gea's mixed fortunes

While many has questioned where United would be without Ronaldo, it would also be fair to ask where would United be without David de Gea.

On the evidence presented at Old Trafford, it would likely be in the bottom half of the table. At times, the Spaniard was single-handedly keeping United in the contest, as City was blitzing the United goal like it was shooting practice.

He made excellent saves from Jesus, Cancelo, De Bruyne, and many more, particularly in the opening 45 minutes when City smelt blood. De Gea was the only man in red who could have been considered for the man of the match.

However, his lack of communication with Shaw for City’s second goal was the only time De Gea let himself down.

But his rejuvenation this season since retaking his place in the sticks from Dean Henderson has been one of the few positives for United this season.

And despite his error, his improvement is one of the only decisions Solskjaer has unequivocally got right during this season.

  • Manchester City FC
  • Manchester United FC
  • Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

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