Ole Gunnar Solskjær said Manchester United “didn’t turn up” as they lost 3-2 at RB Leipzig and crashed out of the Champions League, having needed only a point to qualify for the last 16.
While the manager pinpointed the earlier Group H defeat at Istanbul Basaksehir as also being pivotal, amateurish defending was to blame for all three Leipzig goals and so United now drop into the Europa League last 32.
“We didn’t perform as a team well enough,” Solskjær said. “That is the manager’s responsibility. We never got going – we didn’t turn up until they got the second goal. You can’t say that we were good enough. We weren’t good enough. We were in a difficult group and obviously the big turning point was the loss away in Istanbul. That’s where we lost points we should have got. Today we had to defend crosses into the box and we just didn’t deal with them.”
After only two minutes Aaron Wan-Bissaka allowed an unmarked Angeliño to score from a long diagonal, then the right-back again lost the on-loan Manchester City player as he created Amadou Haidara’s second on 13 minutes. On 69 minutes Justin Kluivert made it 3-0, Harry Maguire this time failing to clear. While Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba scored late on it was not enough.
The errors followed a similarly poor defensive display at Basaksehir in the 2-1 defeat in November, with Demba Ba’s opener deriving from United leaving the forward unmarked near halfway from their own corner.
Solskjær urged his players to pick themselves up for the weekend visit of City for the derby. “As a footballer you have to feel sorry for a few minutes and then focus on Saturday, that is a massive game and it is something we have to look forward to,” he said.
Pogba made an impact on entering as a second‑half replacement. His agent, Mino Raiola, stated on the eve of the match that the midfielder is unhappy at United and it would be best for all if he left in January. Solskjær said: “You have to ask Paul if he is happy or not, I’m not going to speak for him. Paul is focused on doing his best for the team and when he’s here he’s working hard in training [and] just needs to focus on his performances.”
He denied Raiola’s comments had disrupted preparations for the match. “The squad is fine – they are a team and they stick together. As soon as Paul’s agent realises it is a team sport the better. I don’t want to spend energy on that. I am not going to talk about Paul’s agent any more.”