Oh dear, the facade of Ole Gunnar Solskjær has crumbled after the 2-0 away defeat to Arsenal at the weekend.
The smile that he promised in the aftermath of the PSG game, seems to have disappeared along with his humility, objectivity and generosity.
The defeat to Arsenal will have hurt, because of the intense rivalry of the two clubs over the years, something Solskjaer remembers well but surely he didn’t imagine that there was a drastic quality gap between the teams.
Did he get carried away by the praise from the fawning press ? Did he think that United’s problems could all be solved by attitude and spirit ?
Did he believe that the recent performance against PSG would instil fear in an Arsenal side fighting for a Champions league slot.
If he did, then there is an unmistakable naivety on his part, that needs to be cured and the premier league will expose these failings quite quickly.
Perhaps the illusion was the fault of the press, desperate to have United in contention again or perhaps a misplaced sense of self belief that made the task seem easier than it actually is.
Reality can prove to be a very unpalatable dish when you are not used to the taste and United have a reputation for expecting results regardless of their own form or that of the opposition.
After the PSG game, Solskjaer said
“It wasn’t about having the ball and outplaying them.”
No doubt that was something Emery incorporated into his superior tactical plan on the day.
How ironic then. that Solskjær should appear to be offended by the manner of the defeat.
Emery forced the Norwegian to change formation during the game and United never really got their foot on the accelerator, which says as much about them as it does their opponents.
United have been overrun in certain games and still managed to snatch a victory out of the jaws of defeat, especially under Alex Ferguson.
So whilst the result probably should have merited a draw, Arsenal came out on top with a mixture of hard work, tenacity and good fortune.
United were really poor at times and Arsenal could have easily finished the game off 4-3 winners by virtue of a series of decent chances but that won’t stop the general belief that United were hard done by.
An obviously bitter Solskjaer then went on to mock the Xhaka goal for its Brazilian type curl and on the penalty decision awarded to Lacazette, he said
“I don’t think there’s enough contact to merit a pen. It’s not a dive, no, no, no. Fred is apparently very, very strong.”
Both comments smacked of sour grapes and at no point did he appear magnanimous or generous, which showed the type of pressure generated by lost points at a crucial stage of the season.
When Solskjær first arrived, I believed him to be different, enthusiastic but gracious, ambitious, yet realistic.
I may have given him too much credit too soon and perhaps he thought that top flight football was easier than it’s now proving to be.