Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has reacted after captain Harry Maguire, Scott McTominay, and Luke Shaw picked up a suspension for the second leg against Granada.
The Red Devils will be firm favorites to reach the semi-finals of the Europa League after winning the first leg 2-0 away to Granada. If they do so, this will be their second consecutive semi-final in the competition.
It was not a vintage performance from United. They failed to create any clear-cut chances against a resolute Granada defence. But Marcus Rashford put the visitors ahead after Victor Lindelof picked him out with a beautiful long ball. And Bruno Fernandes won and scored a late penalty as United return back to England with two crucial away goals.
But United will be without key players for the second leg next week at Old Trafford. Scott McTominay, Luke Shaw, and Harry Maguire were all booked in the game, meaning the trio will miss the second leg.
Solskjaer frustrated with the suspensions
Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer expressed his frustration after the suspensions of his captain, first-choice left-back, and central midfielder. Speaking to BT Sport, Solskjaer said:
“It was not a perfect night. We got three yellow cards and three suspensions. [But] 2-0 is very good result. We know how difficult it is to come to Spain. It’s created a good starting point for next week’s game, then we’ve got to play well to get a result. We want to win every game, football catches you so quickly if you rest. We can’t have any other approach. It’s a young team, a learning team and we have to improve all the time.”
Solskjaer also lauded Rashford and Fernandes for their goals. Fernandes even took a heavy blow to his eye after he was hit by a Granada defender in the penalty box. He said:
“They [Rashford and Fernandes] have been exceptional, so important for us. It was a very good run by Rashford, he takes the ball fantastically. Bruno is so confident on penalties even though the keeper almost saved it.”
Selection dilemma for the second leg
As said, United will be without three very important players in Maguire, Shaw, and McTominay. And Solskjaer will have to pick up a very different line-up.
In midfield, Fred or Nemanja Matic might replace McTominay and play alongside Paul Pogba. The door may also be open for Donny van de Beek to start. Alex Telles will be the like-for-like replacement for Shaw at left-back.
The Norwegian coach’s biggest concern will be at central defence. Maguire’s absence is a huge miss to the team. The Englishman has been ever-present at the back for the Red Devils since joining the club last summer. Eric Bailly is out of contention after he was tested positive for Covid-19 while on international duty. This will leave Axel Tuanzebe to start alongside Victor Lindelof at the heart of the defence.
United are next in action against Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League on Sunday before hosting Granada for the second leg in the Europa League on Thursday.