Schmeichel: Ole's system and subs won the game

Manchester United legend Peter Schmeichel has praised Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s tactics against Paris Saint-Germain and described Tuesday’s 2-1 win as a “giant step in the right direction”.

The match was played behind closed doors due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions and the Great Dane was one of the lucky few to be in attendance, as part of his work as a reporter for Danish television. 

Schmeichel watched with delight as the Reds produced an excellent performance to beat last season’s Champions League finalists, thanks to goals from Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford. 

Our former goalkeeper was impressed by Ole’s decision to play with a back three of Axel Tuanzebe, Victor Lindelof and Luke Shaw, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Alex Telles operating as full-backs. 

As he points out in our latest episode of Tunnel Insider, recorded by our roving reporter Stewart Gardner, Solskjaer deserves credit for the way he managed Tuesday night’s match in France.

Tunnel Insider: How it felt to be in ParisVideo

“Not only did he get it spot on tactically to begin with, but with 20 minutes to go he changed the system and his coaching performance was absolutely spot on,”
explains Schmeichel. 

“It looked like three at the back and then five across the midfield, but in reality it was five at the back and two right in front with Fred and McTominay, just to keep it tight. 

“Then, with 20 minutes to go, he put Paul Pogba on to keep the ball and actually we won the ball. We controlled the game in the last 20 minutes and that was fantastic. I thought Ole did really well.”
The backbone of United’s victory over PSG was undoubtedly a solid defensive performance that featured a number of praiseworthy displays, which Schmeichel is keen to point out in his verdict. 

“This was a magnificent win and I think it was something we absolutely needed,”
Peter told us.
“I think we are still in this transition period and we will see some results that we don’t like and some of them that are going to blow us away. This was one of them that has blown us away. 

“I thought it was a fantastic performance and right from the back. The goalkeeper played exceptionally. Wan-Bissaka and Tuanzebe came in for a difficult game against some of the best strikers in the world and they were just fantastic. Up front, as well, we have got players who can, on their own, create chances and actually put them away. I think Marcus proved that right at the end.”

Highlights: PSG 1 United 2Video

Looking forward, Schmeichel is excited about Solskjaer’s young group of players and hopes some consistency can be found as the season progresses. 

“You would hope this win will give the players confidence,”
explains the Dane.
“I don’t think these lads are going to get carried away. It is a very, very young squad of footballers with a very experienced manager who will tell them that tonight was good, but it is something that we have got to replicate in four days against Chelsea and when we play Leipzig in a week's time. 

“We can’t play one great game and think we are there. We are still a work in progress and I think there is still some way to go before we are competitive on all fronts, but tonight was a fantastic performance and a giant step in the right direction.”

Solskjaer: My boys can really playVideo

Unusually, there were very few British journalists at the match on Tuesday night and they included respected United We Stand fanzine editor Andy Mitten, who also writes for The Athletic and others.

“I didn't expect this,”
he tells Tunnel Insider.
“I know this is a United team in transition, but we have gone away to one of the best teams in the world, attacked them and with a system that is working. I've just watched Axel Tuanzebe chase down Neymar and win the ball - he has not played for almost a year and his last opponents were Colchester United in the League Cup. This is wonderful!

“It is really encouraging watching United playing with such confidence and it looks like they are enjoying it. Alex Telles looks like a winger who has been bought to play in the Champions League. He knows how to put a ball in. We have got to give the lad time to settle, but it looks like he is settling in after a few minutes. What saddens me, sat here, is looking at the away section with the netting either side of it and I just remember last time. As any football fan knows, you go through so much bad to appreciate the great moments and 6 March 2019 was a truly great moment.”

Listen to new episodes of Tunnel Insider after every first-team fixture.

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