Ole Gunnar Solskjaer bemoaned his side’s defensive errors on Wednesday as his Manchester United team once again failed to keep a clean sheet.
Thankfully, on this occasion, three second-half goals ensured the Red Devils came out on the right side of the five-goal thriller against Atalanta, with Marcus Rashford, Harry Maguire and Cristiano Ronaldo netting in the 3-2 Champions League victory.
Coming from behind to win is something of a specialty for United under Solskjaer, and they’ve already achieved such a feat three times in all competitions this term. But it’s a situation the manager admits he’d rather avoid in future and he acknowledged his side must stop conceding sloppy goals.
“We need to defend better really and we need to defend the key moments better,” Solskjaer said in his post-match press conference.
“It’s perceived that we’re so inconsistent in performances when you concede easy goals. Today, another couple of easy goals and we need to eradicate this because we are playing against very good teams in the next few weeks.”
Finishing saved United
The two-goal deficit at half-time reflects poorly on United and Solskjaer, especially given Atalanta failed to create many serious openings in the first 45 minutes.
Despite that, the Norwegian was pleased with the response from his team in the highly pressured second period, and their ruthlessness in front of goal.
“I thought first half we played some good stuff and had chances but just couldn’t take them,” he said. “It was about keeping the belief and playing forward, get the crowd behind you and we took the goals really well. The quality of finishing [in the] second half was much better.
“In the first half I thought we played some good stuff,” he continued. “Our finishing wasn’t good enough; they had two chances and in those moments we switched off and they scored two easy goals.
“In the second half, David [De Gea] made two excellent saves. What decided the outcome was the quality of the finishes we had in the second half. But I can understand why people who don’t watch every game see the inconsistencies.
“Within that game, being 2-0 down looks really bad, but the performance wasn’t worthy of being two down. That was the message at half-time: ‘keep on playing like this, just add a bit more quality in your finishing; get an extra pass off and make sure we don’t concede a second goal’.”
Ole’s feisty response
In a separate interview with BT Sport, Solskjaer gave a passionate answer when it was put to him that the United squad were still ‘playing for him’.
“Don’t even start,” he responded curtly. “Don’t disrespect the players.
“They play for Man United and they know they are the luckiest men in the word because tonight the 11 plus the subs are the ones that can play for Man United and that’s what millions of boys and girls want to do.”