Rio Ferdinand has defended the tactics of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in Manchester United’s defeat to Young Boys on Tuesday, suggesting he was right to “take a point” away from home in the Champions League.
The Red Devils led through Cristiano Ronaldo’s side foot finish from a wonderful Bruno Fernandes cross before Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s straigtht red card changed everything.
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The Swiss side equalised in the 66th minute before another substitute – Jesse Lingard – gifted them the winner with the last kick of the game.
Solskjaer has faced significant criticism for the negative approach he took, particularly after taking off Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes.
But United legend Ferdinand does not believe Solskjaer made a mistake with his approach and was very nearly vindicated but for an unfortunate stoppage-time goal.
Ferdinand told BT Sport: “In the 72nd minute, they’re talking about needing a goal. Ole’s not thinking like that.
“As a manager I understand what he is probably thinking at that time, 1-1, away in Europe, always difficult no matter where you go, in Europe it’s always difficult to go away, on an artificial pitch, we’re down to 10 men, we’ll take a point.
“And that’s what he was thinking. He wasn’t thinking about bringing players on or keeping players on to score goals, it was about seeing the game out. And listen, if he sees that game out, no-one is talking about substitutions.”
But when challenged on the fact they ended up losing the game, Ferdinand argued: “It’s the fact it wasn’t based on the team shape or the team performance, it was based on a single person’s error of judgement. That’s the difference.
“If it was a tactical situation, where you go, ‘That’s the reason they’ve lost today, because tactically they got that wrong’. They didn’t play well today, when they had 11 men or 10 men, but I wouldn’t say the substitutions were the reasons they didn’t get a draw.”
Chelsea faced a similar scenario against Liverpool at Anfield this season, also conceding a penalty, but did not simply sit back and looked relatively comfortable.
But Ferdinand rejected those comparisons, adding: “Chelsea look very confident, they understand how to navigate their way through difficult situations in matches. They went down to 10 men at Anfield and looked very comfortable.
“Man United, on the other hand, looked like a team that were hoping to get a result tonight when they went down to 10 men. And that comes down to experience, that comes down to Chelsea winning something that brings confidence throughout that squad.
“Confidence is streaming through that squad. It’s a very different place and time where they are in their development and Man United are trying to get to that point.”