Why PSG frustration can motivate us in Leipzig
“A tough pill to swallow,” was how Scott McTominay summed up the agonising defeat to Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday evening.
There’s no doubt that the setback leaves the Reds’ hopes of progression to the Champions League last 16 more precariously balanced than beforehand, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side still require just a point on matchday six when we travel to Germany to face RB Leipzig.
And, when the dust settles on this tetchy, feisty meeting with the Parisians, United should feel confident – and hopefully a little angry, after missing a chance at sealing qualification.
After all, frustration can be a powerful motivating force.In the hot-blooded aftermath of an unfortunate defeat like the one against PSG, it’s easy to focus on what went wrong – Fred’s red card, the gilt-edged missed chances – but once everyone cools down, there’s plenty of encouragement to take from the game.
First of all, for the second time in a matter of weeks, United took the game to last season’s Champions League finalists, and put them under serious, serious pressure.
For the last 25 minutes of the first half, and the first 15 of the second period, the French champions had their backs right up against the wall, as Edinson Cavani and Marcus Rashford, in particular, threatened to blow them away.
Sadly, the excellent chances United created – Cavani’s chip onto the bar, Martial’s glaring miss – went begging, but you still have to create them to begin with. And, right now, United have the attacking firepower and creative juices to make any side in world football nervous.Surely, in Leipzig, we can take one or two of our opportunities.
And, once again, United came from behind, proving our resilience. As McTominay said post-match, conceding early goals is a habit he and his team-mates need to get out of. But that spirit and defiance against adversity shows that there is a determination and fight in the squad that United haven’t always had since Sir Alex Ferguson retired.
At the back, Harry Maguire was excellent, while Alex Telles continued his encouraging form since joining the club.
David De Gea made a crucial save to deny Mitchel Bakker when the game was poised at 1-1.
As Maguire said after the game, PSG’s first two goals had a strong element of fortune about them, stemming from pinball-like ricochets in the box which fell kindly to their players.
In midfield, Fred and McTominay – at least prior to the Brazilian’s unfortunate dismissal – were dealing superbly with the threat posed by Leandro Paredes, Marco Verratti and the floating Neymar.
Fred might have been fortunate to escape a straight red card in the first period, but his second yellow was a misjudgement from referee Daniele Orsato. Our no.17 clearly won the ball before Ander Herrera.
If not for that red card, straight after Marquinhos’s critical goal for PSG, who knows how the final 20 minutes or so would have played out?
McTominay's assessment of a frustrating night
Scott is visibly annoyed about the defeat in our interview, but the midfielder remains confident we will progress...
Rashford’s injury-enforced departure soon after made that period a damaging one in the game for United, and should teach the team a lesson: that games can always quickly spiral out of your control if chances aren’t taken when you are on top.
But the squad won’t need telling that. Anthony Martial and the other forwards will know they should have taken one of those chances at the start of the second half. And that frustration should burn inside them over the next few days.
Instead of being in the last 16, we have another huge fixture coming up in six days’ time.But we still have a chance to put things right, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a good habit of coming up with a result when he most needs one.
RB Leipzig are an excellent side, but we tend to produce our best performances against the cream of the crop.In some ways, Wednesday night against PSG was one of those performances. Sadly, on this occasion, the result escaped us.
But between the positive aspects from Wednesday’s night game, and the frustration that clearly went with defeat, United have something to harness. Whatever you want to call it – anger, irritation, disappointment – it can be used in Germany.
Perform like we did against PSG here at Old Trafford, and there should be little to worry about in Saxony next week.