Three brave calls Solskjaer made in Manchester United draw with Atalanta


Manchester United just about managed a draw away at Atalanta due to an injury time Cristiano Ronaldo equaliser.

United did not play well and were fortunate to land a point.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United are not yet capable of controlling games against quality opposition like this. In both games against Atalanta the team had just enough to get by, despite conceding four goals.

The United boss does deserve an iota of credit, for all the criticism he has been getting.

There were three brave calls Solskjaer made against Atalanta which could have backfired, but paid off. Here is a look at the key decisions which worked out…

(Photo by Giuseppe Cottini/Getty Images)

Mid-game formation shift

When Raphael Varane went down injured after 36 minutes United had a choice on how to replace him.

To stick with the 3-5-2, United could have moved Shaw to centre-back and brought on Alex Telles at left wing-back.

With United 1-0 down, Solskjaer favoured a more attacking approach, reverting to a 4-2-3-1, bringing on Mason Greenwood.

The decision just about paid off, with United coming back to claim a point.

Atalanta v Manchester United: Group F - UEFA Champions League
(Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Keeping McTominay on until late

We all remember the disaster at home to PSG last season when Solskjaer chose not to substitute Fred who was on a yellow card, and he was sent off soon after.

 

Scott McTominay walked the tightrope in the second half, picking up a yellow card and earning a further telling off from the referee soon after.

Solskjaer was a combination of both brave by keeping him on, and foolish in not learning from his own mistake. Either way it paid off.

The decision to keep McTominay on was influenced by an appalling display from Paul Pogba, which saw Solskjaer prefer to take off the Frenchman for Nemanja Matic, and gamble on McTominay keeping his discipline.

Atalanta v Manchester United: Group F - UEFA Champions League
(Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Taking Fernandes off

When Solskjaer made a double change late on, he was short of options who to take off.

He did what he rarely does, and substituted Bruno Fernandes.

It was a gamble, taking off the Champions League’s top chance creator. But Atalanta did a good job on him in the second half by man-marking him out of the game.

Replacements Jadon Sancho and Donny van de Beek both played a part in United’s equaliser.

This was just the third time Fernandes had been taken off all season, and the first time since November 2020 against Arsenal that he has been substituted with United trailing a game by a single goal.

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