What we can learn from Kylian Mbappe
Kylian Mbappe's striking masterclass at Old Trafford was a lesson that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants his own forwards to learn from.
Since the Norwegian became caretaker manager, his side have scored 28 goals in 12 games but less than half of them have been scored by forwards - with Marcus Rashford netting seven and Romelu Lukaku and Anthony Martial scoring three of them.
But it is an area that Ole believes his strikers can improve by taking note of the performance of Paris Saint-Germain's Mbappe.
The 20-year-old French World Cup winner netted the crucial second goal for PSG in their 2-0 win at Old Trafford in the first leg of our Champions League last-16 tie as he converted a cross from former Reds midfielder Angel di Maria.
United face a tough task in the second leg in the French capital on 6 March but Ole feels the lads can use the defeat as part of their education to ensure some good will come from it.
Solskjaer was impressed with Mbappe and has implored his strikers to pick up on the French superstar’s lead.
“In the first half I thought they didn't cause us too many problems, but we didn't really cause them too many problems either,” he said.
“There was a couple of times down our right-hand side we created something, but we never filled the box. Runs into the box, run in to get a tap-in like Mbappe did for his goal. Then again, I thought they defended really well. We had loads of crosses second half but the movement wasn't there.
“They were a level above us today, we have to honest and fair. The second goal, that was quality by them. The ground he makes up that boy [Mbappe] to get into the box is for all the strikers that want to be out there, that's how to get into the box and get those five or six extra goals. I've been talking about how our strikers should try to get that.”
Solskjaer himself isn’t a bad example to provide that education. He is 16th in United’s all-time list of top goalscorers in all competitive matches with 126 goals.
After ending his first season in 1996/97 as the Reds' top marksman with 19 goals following his move from Molde, I spoke to Sir Bobby Charlton about Alex Ferguson’s bargain find.
“I’m impressed by Solskjaer. He makes up his mind very, very quickly in the box,” Sir Bobby said.
”I watch him in practice and while you are wondering what he is going to do, he has done it. It doesn’t matter how the ball comes to him, volleys, half volleys, whatever he makes up his mind very quickly which is hard for the goalkeepers.
“He’s as sharp as anything. He has a gift that not everybody has. He thinks a little bit quicker in the box than anybody else. Some of the great strikers like Denis Law, Jimmy Greaves and Puskas had his quickness of thought and speed to get into the right areas. Ole Gunnar is a little like them.”
Highlights: United 0 PSG 2Video
Fast forward to 2019 and Charlton could be echoing Solskjaer’s admiration for Mbappe’s prowess. It’s over to United’s strikers now to continue with their studies.
The opinions in this story are personal to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Manchester United Football Club.
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