Sport How Solskjaer's siege mentality shines through when under big pressure
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer praises Man United new boy Facundo Pellistri
Pellistri appears to have already made an impression on the United boss, who revealed he has brought skillsets to the squad that they don't have in the current group of players. © Provided by Daily Mail Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes new signing Facundo Pellistri will be a welcome addition Solskjaer told MUFC.com: 'He's a young boy coming from Uruguay. 'He's a signing in the tradition of what we do here which is to bring young players in and let them grow and develop and become the player they can be.
You'd expect Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to be at his best when the chips are down.
After all, this was the striker who specialised in the stoppage-time smash and grab during an illustrious playing career at Old Trafford.
Now as Manchester United's manager, Solskjaer seems to thrive when the odds are stacked against him and his team.
When results take a downward turn, when the pressure mounts again, when the name Mauricio Pochettino is whispered, Solskjaer always seems to get it right.
Solskjaer reveals Fernandes will captain Man United against PSG
Bruno Fernandes has been named Manchester United captain against Paris-Saint Germain in the absence of Harry Maguire - even though the Portugal star didn't know it.Maguire was left at home when United flew to the French capital on Monday afternoon, and Fernandes was sat next to manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at the pre-match press conference when he was asked who would wear the armband in Parc des Princes on Tuesday night.
In the biggest games, when United assume the unfamiliar role of underdogs, they somehow seem to succeed following the Norwegian's gameplan.
Tuesday night's Champions League win away to Paris Saint-Germain was just the latest example.
United's start to the season has been ropey to say the least with that 6-1 humiliation at the hands of Tottenham supposedly the beginning of the end for a manager frequently accused of being out of his depth.
The deserved 4-1 win at Newcastle on Saturday night was surely a temporary reprieve with United's myriad deficiencies certain to be exposed by Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Co.
Not a bit of it. Every decision Solskjaer made, whether tactically or in terms of personnel, was absolutely spot on.
EIGHT THINGS WE LEARNED from Manchester's United defeat of PSG
There were plenty of sub-plots from the victory, namely the impressive showing from young defender Axel Tuanzebe. The 22-year-old dominated Kylian Mbappe on his first match in 10 months.Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side travelled to the French capital buoyed by their last visit to the Parc des Princes when a late Rashford penalty snatched a dramatic victory in the last-16 last year.
Once again United thrived as the underdogs and recorded a famous European win thanks to Marcus Rashford's late strike.
Firstly, there was a switch in formation to the three central defenders and two wing-backs set-up Solskjaer likes to reserve for the most demanding games.
It typically appears when United face Chelsea or Manchester City because it adds extra security at the back but also offers a counter-attacking spring which suits United's style.
Secondly, there was the choice of personnel, which was bold.
Luke Shaw part of the three at the back, Axel Tuanzebe picked for the first time this season in the biggest game of his young career, captain Harry Maguire left at home and Alex Telles chucked in for a punishing debut at left wing-back.
In midfield, Solskjaer ignored all the noise around Paul Pogba to once again leave him on the bench in favour of workhorses Fred and Scott McTominay.
Solskjaer defends Greenwood and blasts ex-United criticising him
The United boss was strong in his defence of the 19-year-old and scalded former players who 'don't know what they're talking about' when they criticise the behaviour of Mason Greenwood.United are said to have spoken to Greenwood over his discipline, specifically being late for training on several occasions.
On the face of it, you looked at that line-up and really feared for United. But every selection Solskjaer made was the right one.
Fred and McTominay's industry provided the foundation for United's win, Telles and Aaron Wan-Bissaka on the other side were excellent. Tuanzebe was composed, offering a good solution to United's issues at centre back going forward.
Solskjaer could have dumped error-prone David de Gea at the start of the season in favour of the ambitious Dean Henderson. The stats supported the case for change.
But actually Henderson's return has placed just enough pressure on De Gea to restore his full concentration. He was more than able on the occasions PSG did manage to punch through.
Thirdly, the in-game decisions. When Anthony Martial headed into his own net for 1-1, Solskjaer could easily have introduced defensive-minded players from the bench and shut up shop. After all, nobody would have criticised a draw at the Parc des Princes.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: Man United would have beaten Chelsea with fans
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer blamed Manchester United's tough fixture list for their 0-0 draw with Chelsea on Saturday but claimed his side would have won if there were fans in the ground. The Red Devils were held by the Blues four days after their memorable win over Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League group stages, though Solskjaer's side had the better chances.Blues goalkeeper Edouard Mendy pulled off two stunning save to deny Marcus Rashford in both halves, while United debutant Edinson Cavani had a goalbound effort blocked by Thiago Silva.
Man United fixtures
Premier League unless stated
Saturday Chelsea (H)
October 28 RB Leipzig (H)
Champions League group stage
November 1 Arsenal (H)
November 4 Istanbul Basaksehir (A)
Champions League group stage
Instead he introduced Pogba for Telles and the Frenchman played his 23 minutes as though he had plenty to prove. His performance was capped with the assist for Rashford's winner.
Fourthly, Solskjaer more often than not ensures his United team have the perfect mentality for the biggest games.
It might not be the United tradition he knew from his playing days but the underdog role suits them at the moment.
That kind of attitude ensures everyone puts in the hard yards, stays focused on their respective roles, embraces a counter-attacking game which is highly effective and plays with the knowledge that all of this will ultimately bring rewards, as on Tuesday night.
It's far from the first time that Solskjaer has got it right under intense pressure. There are two examples from last season alone.
Last December, United were ninth in the table after 14 matches having won as many games as they'd lost in the league.
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The United boss's job had been under severe pressure after the international break, with the 6-1 hammering at home to Tottenham Hotspur putting the Norwegian's job at risk.The United boss's job had been under severe pressure after the international break, with the 6-1 hammering at home to Tottenham Hotspur putting the Norwegian's place in the dugout at risk.
There was speculation Solskjaer would be sacked if they lost back-to-back games against Tottenham and Manchester City.
It didn't help that Jose Mourinho had just come in as Spurs manager but Solskjaer placed trust in his grafters, with Fred and McTominay in midfield, and his speedsters, with Rashford and Mason Greenwood up top.
The classic Sir Alex Ferguson siege mentality was in play as United came at Tottenham with aggression and purpose, outworked them and ultimately won 2-1. Solskjaer cheekily patted Mourinho on the head at the final whistle.
A few days later, United went to the Etihad and blew City away on the counter-attack in the first half-an-hour, surging into a two-goal lead.
After that, United dropped back with six defensive players, soaked up everything Pep Guardiola's side could throw at them and won 2-1. It was an emphatic response to Solskjaer's critics.
Not that it took too long for Solskjaer to come under scrutiny again. A 2-0 home defeat by Burnley in late January was, at that time, the lowest point of his time in charge.
But once again, Solskjaer adjusted things and within a few weeks they'd won again at the Etihad, albeit in losing the Carabao Cup semi-final on aggregate, beaten Chelsea 2-0 in the league and then outplayed City 2-0 at Old Trafford just before lockdown.
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As Ole Gunnar Solskjaer prepares to manage Manchester United for the 100th time, we use Opta statistics to take a closer look at his record.The Norwegian initially revitalised United after succeeding Jose Mourinho on a caretaker basis in December 2018 and was handed the job permanently three months later.
Again in the big games, Solskjaer adopted the 3-4-1-2 set-up, dropping Shaw into the back three, deploying energetic wing backs and using two hard-working defensive midfielders. Again, United had joy on the counter.
Indeed, following the Burnley defeat, United embarked on an unbeaten run of 19 matches in all competitions either side of lockdown.
So Solskjaer again had the gameplan to recover and get United back on track at a time when many feared he would be fired. They came out swinging, claimed the necessary results and their luck turned.
Which takes us back to Solskjaer's first season and another memorable night in Paris. PSG's 2-0 win at Old Trafford in the first leg was the first defeat the Norwegian had suffered as interim manager.
It would have been easy to write off the return leg as a lost cause. When you look at United's line-up now, even more so.
Eric Bailly started at right back, Chris Smalling partnered Victor Lindelof in central defence. Ashley Young played on the right side of midfield with Andreas Pereira on the left, either side of Fred and McTominay.
The subs bench was effectively a load of kids and things got worse when Bailly suffered a first-half injury.
And yet, somehow, United prevailed 3-1 in the most dramatic of circumstances thanks to Rashford's 94th-minute penalty.
Solskjaer went for an old-fashioned 4-4-2 but the combination of Romelu Lukaku's brute force and Rashford's electric pace up front did the trick. He was rewarded with the job on a permanent basis, though admittedly their form then collapsed.
It's often said that United are never more than two defeats away from a crisis. Their fixture list remains daunting, with Chelsea, RB Leipzig and Arsenal up next.
But another memorable night in Paris has highlighted once again that their manager usually gets it right on the big occasion and especially when the burden on his own shoulders is high.
In terms of tactics, team selection, gameplan and mentality, Solskjaer continues to get it absolutely right when it matters.
Solskjaer has plenty of tactical options for United in Arsenal clash .
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is happy to have several tactical options at his disposal ahead of Sunday's game at Arsenal, thanks to his flexible friends at Old Trafford. The Manchester United manager has used four different formations so far this season.He is best known for playing a 4-3-3 at United but Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood formed a strike pairing in Wednesday’s 5-0 win over RB Leipzig, with Marcus Rashford then replacing Greenwood and hitting a hat-trick.