Football Features

“Man Utd’s manager is out of his depth” – Winners and Losers as RB Leipzig rock Red Devils right out of the Champions League

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 22:35, 8 December 2020 | Updated: 13:11, 11 December 2020

In a wild night of football, RB Leipzig beat Manchester United 3-2 to knock The Red Devils out.

The win sends Leipzig into the round of 16 at United’s defence who must now be happy with a Europa League place despite the strong start they made to the group. Who were the winners and losers?

Winner: Angelino

Angelino has always been a player of superb technique and talent but despite this was just awful for Manchester City (including in one game against United). However with Timo Werner out, the Spaniard has emerged as Leipzig’s unlikely goal hero both in the Bundesliga and Champions League and tonight he was the star of the show yet again.

When that pass from Marcel Sabitzer came over, and to be fair it was one hell of a pass, Angelino watched it steady and then lashed it first-time low into the far corner of the net. David de Gea didn’t stand a chance.

But Angelino wasn’t done there. Minutes later the ball came wide to him and the left-back pinged a delicious cross into the back-post, evading all United defenders before finding Amadou Haidara who scored emphatically. And then in the second-half it was his cross, albeit deflected, that led to Leipzig’s third goal as well.

All the late drama could not obscure the fact that this was Angelino’s night. The little left-back made a big impact.

Loser: Luke Shaw

Tonight Luke Shaw was celebrating his 150th appearance with Manchester United. Of course right off the bat that raises an eyebrow as he joined the club in 2014, but let’s not rag on the man for injuries when there are so many legitimate reasons to criticise him.

The first two Leipzig goals are both Shaw’s fault. Oh, sure, other players were left getting put on a poster; Aaron Wan-Bissaka for the first goal and Alex Telles for the second, but the epicentre of the disaster was Luke Shaw both times.

On the first goal Shaw steps up into a passing lane that is already being blocked off by Nemanja Matic, this drags Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof over as they don’t want to create gaps in their back-line. This in turn pulls Aaron Wan-Bissaka narrow because he’s concerned about Emil Forsberg running off the back of Lindelof. This opens up the space for Marcel Sabizter to find Angelino (with an admittedly great pass) and Angelino to find the net (again, a great finish).

For the second goal Luke Shaw is caught upfield and then when he does retreat, it’s not into the back-line but standing in front of it. This again drags the United defence narrow, which allows Angelino to cross to Amadou Haidara as Shaw jogs back into defence watching on like an interested tourist. 0-2 and United in a pit of despair.

Winner: Paul Pogba

When Paul Pogba came on it was 3-0 and Manchester United were dead and buried.

By the full-time whistle it was 3-2 and although Manchester United were still headed to the Europa League, it was clear that Paul Pogba’s influence at Manchester United, when a game is stretched and chaotic, is almost unparalleled.

The Frenchman played a beauty of a ball in behind for Mason Greenwood when United won the penalty, and it was his gargantuan leap and header at the back-post that somehow forced the ball in off a combination of Harry Maguire and Leipzig defenders.

His agent may be intensely unlikeable, and sure sometimes he’s a poor fit, but when the chips are down there are few players you’d want in your corner more than the magnificent Paul Pogba.

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Loser: David de Gea

De Gea could do nothing about the first two goals on the night, to be fair to him, but the third goal? Oh goodness gracious. The cross came in and Harry Maguire threw his hands up and let the ball run across him like he was seeing it out for a throw instead of defending his near-post.

That was bad, unforgiveable even, but in the United skipper’s defence David de Gea was in a good position to come and smother the ball at Justin Kluivert’s feet. And instead the Spaniard came out and actively turned away from the ball. Kluivert dinked the ball and it sailed right through where De Gea’s body would have been; he didn’t even have to dive at the defender’s feet if he wanted to avoid the chance of injury (an understandable concern) but just stay where you at and catch a little chip on the chin and save a surefire goal!

David de Gea is an embarrassment and should not be Manchester United’s starting goalkeeper.

Winner: Julian Nagelsmann

After getting devoured 5-0 in Manchester by Marcus Rashford’s second-half hat-trick, Julian Nagelsmann would have felt embarrassed. Beating PSG would have restored some pride, but ultimately how could he go on knowing he had been so undone by a coach as undernourished as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer?

Well he can rest easy now that his Leipzig side, in a crunch win-or-go-home clash, have delivered the goods and absolutely ripped Manchester United apart. The Red Devils are out of the Champions League because Ole Gunnar Solskjaer thought he could pull the same old routine and still hand Leipzig a fat L yet again.

Not so, as Nagelsmann’s men tore United to shreds in the first-half and taking a 2-0 lead. United didn’t just outplay Leipzig they made them look like they were amateurs. Yes in the end they got complacent and United got a soft penalty and a freak deflection but in truth they were never in the game. And when it did get to 3-2, Leipzig shut the game down and showed a bit of steel.

Loser: Ole Gunnar Solslkjaer

The caretaker-manager who blagged his way to a permanent appointment because of one man night in Paris has never really shaken off the sensation that he is anything more than a temporary appointment. A club legend who “gets it” and can make all the players happy again, getting them all pulling in the right direction by citing club lore and those kind of things.

What do Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United stand for? Nostalgia, sure, but what else? Endless callbacks to the past, but no real idea how to take the club forward. United can play one way: on the break, like a kind of deluxe version of Crystal Palace or something. If they have to do anything bar park it and counter, they look like an incredible band so drunk they can barely perform the most basic of chords.

Occasionally one or more of the players will stir to life and wreak havoc with their magnificent talent (usually this is Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford) but the truly good sides know how to circumvent that, putting pressure on United to find solutions through systemic football and anything beyond the most basic of approaches and the United lads look lost.

Yes the squad is lacking some key pieces, pieces that should have been signed this summer but for a dithering board, but managers with a budget half the size of United manage to play cohesive football so what is The Red Devils’ excuse?

Well, their excuse, their reason, is quite simply that their manager isn’t good enough. No matter the talk about squad deficiencies, fixture congestion, underperforming malcontents, the truth is that Manchester United are out of the Champions League because their manager is out of his depth. That’s really all there is to it.