Paul Merson accuses Ole Gunnar Solskjaer of being SCARED to take off misfiring Marcus Rashford ‘in case it upset him’ in Europa League defeat by Villarreal… and insists Unai Emery ’embarrassed’ the United boss with his subs
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was afraid of upsetting his star players by taking them off during Manchester United’s ’embarrassing’ Europa League final defeat to Villarreal.
That’s the opinion of Paul Merson, who has slammed Solskjaer for being ‘too nice’ and unwilling to push for the big money recruits to close the gap to Premier League champions Manchester City.
United lost 11-10 in a marathon penalty shoot-out after a 1-1 draw with the Spanish side in Gdansk on Wednesday night as Solskjaer’s wait for a first trophy at the club goes on.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been criticised for Manchester United’s display against Villarreal
United’s manager didn’t take off the underperforming Marcus Rashford during the final
Pundit Paul Merson believes Solskjaer ‘didn’t want to upset’ Rashford by subbing him off
And Merson believes their ‘shocking’ performance merely scratched the surface of the many issues holding United back at the moment.
‘Ole Gunnar Solskjaer got embarrassed really,’ Merson told Sky Sports. ‘Villarreal made the five substitutions and it was really clever from Unai Emery.
‘They had the fresher legs in extra time and they didn’t really look like losing. They looked the better team and Solskjaer just didn’t react. He just didn’t change it up and they paid the price in the end.
‘It just all seems too friendly to me. It seems like he didn’t want to upset anyone.
‘Marcus Rashford just had one of those games. Sooner of later, as a manager, you’ve got to realise it is just one of those games for him and that it just wasn’t happening.
Bruno Fernandes was reduced to tears after United’s defeat to Villarreal on penalties in Gdansk
Edinson Cavani looked distraught as he came to terms with losing out in the showpiece
Rashford howled in frustration during the game (left) then looked disconsolate afterwards
‘Everything he tried just didn’t come off. I can’t remember him doing anything in the game that was any good.
‘Looking on, it looks like Solskjaer didn’t want to bring him off in case it upset him.’
With Solskjaer not turning to his bench until the 100th minute, despite the final being United’s 61st match of a hectic season, the lack of strength in depth was obvious.
But Merson believes Solskjaer won’t be willing to stand up to the club’s owners, the Glazer family, and demand the reinforcements desperately needed in the summer transfer window.
He added: ‘It’s a hard one because Solskjaer is great for the club. He’s nice.
Solskjaer walks past the Europa League trophy as the wait for silverware at United goes on
‘Could you imagine Roy Keane as manager at Old Trafford and the board saying we’re not going to buy anyone this year? He would go mad.
‘He would kick up a stick and that is what a top manager would do. But with Solskjaer, I don’t see that happening. He’s happy to work with what he’s got. He’s grateful to be there.
‘This is Manchester United. For me, the top club in the world. It’s a real worry for United and something they need to ponder long and hard this summer.
‘Personally, I don’t think two to three players is enough. It’s going to take much more than that to get them winning silverware because I just don’t think they are as close as people say.
‘I think they flatter to deceive.’