The woes continue for Ole Gunner Solskjaer’s managerial career. Manchester United were the clear favorites heading into the final against Villarreal. However, Unai Emery’s men came to play and took the fight to United.
Harry Maguire’s absence was a big problem for Ole, however, the playing eleven was strong enough to get the job done. The game was tight from the very beginning. It was one of those cagey games without much free-flowing football.
Villarreal was clear on what they had to do to contain United. Marcus Rashford went on to miss the best chance of the game, but all things considered, Villarreal deserved to be on level terms at the end of 90 minutes.
Unai Emery was smart with his substitutions. He brought in the likes of Coquelin and Paco Alcacer to add balance and composure to the team. Coquelin knew what facing United meant as the player had enjoyed a good run with Arsenal too.
The game went on to penalties and both sides were just not missing. As per reports from the Mirror, when Coquelin came on Robbie Savage said, “This is the one, this is the one David de Gea is going to save,”.
However, the midfielder thrashed it into the top corner to maintain Villareal’s advantage. Coquelin had suffered humiliation at the hands of United many years ago and it looks like he finally had his revenge.
Could Ole have done better with his substitutions for United?
When you look on paper it would feel as Manchester United was the better team, but on the field the game felt fairly even. United did dominate the ball but Villarreal was dangerous on the counter.
One place where Emery might have beaten Ole is with his substitutions. Ole did not make any substitutions post the 90-minute mark and United was really looking tired in extra time.
Coquelin who was a part of United’s 8-2 thrashing against Arsenal looked on a mission. Sir Alex made the following statement about him, “Arsenal played a young boy in midfield; Francis Coquelin,” wrote Ferguson. “He was completely out of his depth. I had hardly heard of him and he barely played again.”
However, that is not true. Coquelin played 160 games for Arsenal before departing. The midfielder also played a key role in settling down the Villarreal squad after United went on to equalize. He was a leading influence for the team in extra time.
Unai Emery went to him pretty quick because of how much he trusts Coquelin. He was confident in midfield and did his part in the shootout too. It must have been a pretty great feeling vanquishing Manchester United after all these years.
As for United, it is imperative to not lose hope. The group needs to find something that keeps them going because great things will always be expected of this club. This final can very well be an eye-opener for a young English side