EPL

Ince accuses Solskjaer of parking the bus Mourinho-style in Man Utd draw with Liverpool

By Sports Desk January 18, 2021

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer followed the Jose Mourinho method of parking the bus in Manchester United's draw with Liverpool, according to Paul Ince. 

The Red Devils maintained their place at the top of the Premier League, three points ahead of the champions in fourth, with a 0-0 stalemate at Anfield on Sunday. 

Despite enjoying just 34 per cent of the possession, United limited Liverpool to very few opportunities as the Reds went three league games without scoring for the first time since March 2005. 

In fact, United should perhaps have snatched victory in the second half, with Alisson making good saves to deny Bruno Fernandes and a clear-cut Paul Pogba chance. 

Solskjaer stated after the match that he did not feel his side deserved to win, though, arguing they should have done more throughout to threaten a centre-back partnership of Fabinho and Jordan Henderson. 

And Ince, who played for both teams, claimed Solskjaer deployed the same tactics that saw Mourinho "absolutely slaughtered" during his time as manager at Old Trafford.

"You could see the game plan with Manchester United, you saw it from the first whistle – they defended very, very deep," Ince told talkSPORT 2. "I thought United were very poor in the first half. 

"I remember a few years ago when Mourinho took United to Anfield, he parked the bus and got absolutely slaughtered for it. That's exactly what Ole Gunnar Solskjaer did in the first half. 

“We knew they were going to defend and rely on their quick players like Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford to counter-attack Liverpool. But I've played in Man United teams… you don't go to Anfield to defend, especially at a time where they've got two of their best midfield players playing at centre-half and they haven't scored in the last two games. 

"I wanted to see them have a go at Liverpool because they were there for the taking. This was an opportunity for Manchester United to go there and show what they were all about, but they just sat deep and it disappoints me."

WERE UNITED OVER-CAUTIOUS?

Solskjaer admitted he was unhappy with his side's first-half display and it was certainly not an enterprising one. 

United had just one shot in the first half, a Bruno Fernandes free-kick that went narrowly wide, while Liverpool attempted nine. It was the first time since December 2019 that the Red Devils failed to hit the target before the interval in a league game. 

Part of the problem, Solskjaer said, was an eagerness to release striker Rashford at the wrong moments. The England international was caught offside four times in the first half, more than he ever had in a complete league game before. 

Still, the leaders were a little more adventurous after the break. They had seven shots to Liverpool's eight and finished the game with four on target, one more than the home side, with Pogba's chance the best of the contest. The expected goals tally for each side was a little over one.

PLAYING THE PERCENTAGES

Ince's frustration seemed to be that United were no better on Sunday than they were in December 2018, when a one-sided 3-1 defeat at Anfield spelled the end of Mourinho's time in charge.

They were certainly happy to give up the ball. United ended this most recent game with 34 per cent of the possession, their lowest figure in a league game at Anfield under Solskjaer and both slightly down from Mourinho's final visit. 

And yet, United had a far greater degree of control on the game than in their previous two trips to their bitter rivals. 

Their shot count was done by just one on last season's game, which ended 2-0 to Liverpool, and was higher than in any of their visits to Anfield under Mourinho. Similarly, they faced just one more Liverpool shot than last term and a whopping 19 fewer than they did in December 2018. That 3-1 loss also saw United make 41 clearances, eight more than they had to make on Sunday. 

And while Mourinho's final game saw them attempt 59 passes into the final third – much higher than the 35 they managed this time – the majority of those were long balls aimed at alleviating pressure on the defence.

Indeed, United on Sunday attempted 22 passes into the Liverpool box, four more than they managed in Mourinho's last visit to Merseyside, highlighting a greater level of poise about their forward play.

Related items

  • England's entertainers complete record chase to draw India series England's entertainers complete record chase to draw India series

    Centuries from Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow carried England to a historic seven-wicket win over India, completing their record-breaking 378-run chase in the first session of day five.

    After successful fourth-innings pursuits of 277, 299 and 296 in the whitewash of New Zealand, England required their highest such recovery in Tests to take this rearranged fifth match against India.

    But Root (142 not out) and Bairstow (114 no) had done much of the heavy lifting late on Monday at Edgbaston, allowing the home side's imperious duo to charge through Tuesday morning and improve their unbeaten partnership to an outstanding 269.

    The successful chase meant England claimed a draw from the delayed 2021 series and won a fourth consecutive Test match since the new Ben Stokes-Brendon McCullum regime took charge of the team.

    A night's sleep appeared to have done little to rejuvenate India, who continued the previous evening's themes of rash bowling, poor field placement and regular appeals for a change of ball.

    One of those early appeals was successful, but England bludgeoned on regardless, even aided by four leg byes in consecutive Mohammed Shami overs.

    A flurry of Root fours brought up his hundred, reaching three figures with a stab at a Mohammed Siraj delivery that skipped over second slip to the boundary.

    Root initially maintained control of the strike and the scoring, making Bairstow wait until the 18th over of the day for his century. A single did the job, with Root making his ground in time before a direct hit to celebrate with his team-mate.

    And another single, this time from Root, concluded a chase that ultimately became a saunter, cementing England's ability to seemingly match any target with the bat in this thrilling new era.

    Bairstow matches Root record – with time for both to break it

    'Bazball' has been the making of Bairstow, who now has four centuries in his past five innings – the other an unbeaten 71. That means half of Bairstow's 12 Test hundreds have come in 2022 alone.

    That ties the record for the most England Test tons in a calendar year, with Root having matched the six-century achievements of Denis Compton and Michael Vaughan just last year.

    With three Tests to come against South Africa next month and more against Pakistan later in the year, Bairstow is well placed to move past six – as is Root, who has five this year.

  • Pochettino leaves PSG: Paris Saint-Germain still a poisoned chalice but failure need not define ex-Spurs boss Pochettino leaves PSG: Paris Saint-Germain still a poisoned chalice but failure need not define ex-Spurs boss

    Well that was all a bit forgettable, wasn't it?

    Mauricio Pochettino is no longer Paris Saint-Germain head coach after the two parties agreed to part ways.

    The club confirmed their parting on Tuesday, with former Lyon and Nice coach Christophe Galtier expected to come in as his replacement.

    It was an appointment that excited many and seemed to promise much, given the fine job the Argentine had previously done at Tottenham.

    But as it transpired, Pochettino simply became the latest in a succession of top-class coaches to fall short of PSG's ultimate goal: winning the Champions League.

    Frankly, when rumours of Pochettino's departure began to swirl in June, few would have been surprised. In reality, he's looked close to the brink for most of his 18 months in charge – some might even suggest he's lucky to have lasted this long.
     

    Success tempered by failure

    Let's not forget, the mighty PSG were pipped to the Ligue 1 title by Lille in the 2020-21 campaign, a few months into Pochettino's reign. His brief time in charge clearly wasn't seen as much of an excuse given there were reports claiming his job was already under threat by April 2021.

    Talk of a potential return to Tottenham surfaced and then evaporated as PSG seemingly opted to stand by him, with the fact he got them to the Champions League semi-finals potentially showing there was a reason for optimism.

    And then there was the connection with fellow Rosario-native and boyhood Newell's Old Boys fan Lionel Messi. Keeping Pochettino around surely couldn't do any harm with respect to helping the six-time Ballon d'Or winner settle in Paris.

    While Pochettino can't solely be blamed for Messi not hitting similar heights to his Barcelona days, it's fair to say their connection has proven only anecdotal.

    Of course, Pochettino does depart having won three trophies, including this season's Ligue 1 title. But at PSG, that is not even the bare minimum these days if good progress isn't made in Europe.

    Were it not for Karim Benzema's almost superhuman exploits in the Champions League this season, who knows how far PSG would have gone?

    They were 2-0 up on aggregate thanks to Kylian Mbappe's brilliance, but then Benzema took over. His 17-minute hat-trick in the second half of the second leg turned the tie on its head, and Madrid went on to enjoy similarly great escapes against Chelsea and Manchester City before beating Liverpool in the final.

    Maybe that could have been PSG, but instead they were dumped out in the round of 16 for the fourth time in six seasons. The writing was on the wall for Pochettino.
     

    A risk-free move or thankless task?

    Joining Manchester United seemed to make sense as they stepped up their search for a permanent replacement for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but Erik ten Hag was ultimately the chosen one, robbing PSG of an easy solution to their problem.

    It might be going too far to suggest Pochettino's reputation hasn't been damaged by a lack of (European) success and finishing second in Ligue 1 last season. After all, he has arguably underachieved – but in the context of PSG since the takeover, which coaches haven't?

    Former PSG boss Carlo Ancelotti has now won the Champions League twice since leaving the Parisians. Unai Emery took Villarreal to the semi-finals this season. Thomas Tuchel won the competition with Chelsea just a few months after being shown the exit.

    While the point isn't necessarily that PSG were wrong to let Ancelotti leave or get rid of Emery and Tuchel when they did. Rather, Pochettino's inability to end the club's Champions League wait needn't define him or colour his reputation.

    Pochettino will likely still be sought after the next time one of Europe's biggest clubs is on the look-out for a new head coach, because to succeed at PSG is arguably one of the toughest tasks in football.

    Sure, they sit on a pit of money and it seems like they enjoy a clean sweep of the domestic trophies most years, but the gulf to the rest of Ligue 1 is generally so massive that there's a degree of PSG almost being underprepared when heading into European competition.

    Perhaps Pochettino was wrong to take the job in the first place. Given their tendency to throw money around with little regard, placing greatest importance on big-reputation signings, there was always likely to be an element of the club being mismatched with a coach whose teams are typically hard-working. But he'd have seen it almost as a free pass.

    Ironically, PSG have now insisted they are looking to change their ways, and move away from "bling-bling" signings. Even the possibility of Cristiano Ronaldo potentially becoming available is reportedly not interesting them. We'll see how long that lasts, though.

    PSG is a poisoned chalice, but as Pochettino's predecessors have shown, failure at the Parc des Princes needn't be his ruin. It's Galtier's problem now.

  • BREAKING NEWS: Pochettino leaves PSG ahead of anticipated Galtier appointment BREAKING NEWS: Pochettino leaves PSG ahead of anticipated Galtier appointment
    Paris Saint-Germain have confirmed the departure of Mauricio Pochettino, with Christophe Galtier expected to be named as their new head coach later on Tuesday.
© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.