Ole Gunnar Solskjaer explains Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes substitutions during Man Utd Champions League defeat

Wednesday 15th September 2021 12:30 BST

With the game level at 1-1, the United manager replaced the Portuguese pair with Nemanja Matic and Jesse Lingard in the 72nd minute. Fernandes had assisted Ronaldo's opener in the first half, with the visitors needing a goal in Bern.

It was a decision that puzzled Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson, who said on Soccer Special: "Young Boys were petrified of Ronaldo but Lingard plays how l used to play - he will come back and get the ball, and that's not helping because you are down to 10 men already.

"You want the ball going the other way because if the ball goes the other way then your opponents can squeeze the game. That's all Young Boys did: they pushed up to the halfway line because there was no threat behind.

"Without that threat, you aren't going to win too many football matches. If you are going to bring Ronaldo off, bring Mason Greenwood on because he has the pace."

When asked about the changes in his post-match press conference, Solskjaer explained: "The game had gone 70-odd minutes, they had been running a lot, both on Saturday and today.

"The astroturf takes its toll as well and we wanted Nemanja's experience to keep hold of the ball and Jesse's legs.

"Ronaldo is exceptional... But we have to look after him as well and it felt like the right moment to take him off."

Ultimately, the game was changed when Aaron Wan-Bissaka was sent off in the 35th minute after a clumsy challenge on Christopher Martins, with Lingard's poor pass leading to Jordan Pefok's winner with the final kick of the game.

Of the red card, Solskjaer said: "I can understand why he gives it because Aaron take a touch that goes too far. It's never a dangerous tackle because it hits him on the front of his foot.

"We've seen sometimes - a bit like Harvey Elliott [at Liverpool] - bad injuries and there was never reckless or malicious. But probably a little bit inexperienced to go through without having the ball… But it makes it difficult after that with 10 men.

"That's football for you at the highest level. A lack of concentration, make a mistake and you get punished. We did that last year in Europe, we conceded two very sloppy counter-attacks against [Istanbul] Basaksehir and we lost that game.

"Today, the last seconds, Jesse wants to play it safe and misplaces a pass and we concede a goal. It happens in football. Harry Hindsight is a very good player so if Jesse could have that chance again, he'll turn a boot it the other way. But we'll learn from it.

"We know we've given ourselves a more difficult task than we did last year, but everyone thought we were through after two games last year. You need 10, maybe 12 points, win all your home games and maybe one away from home.

"We've lost an opportunity to get three points, but we've got two home games next and we'll focus on those two."

Maguire: Jesse will be ready to go on Sunday

Man Utd captain Harry Maguire says Lingard will learn from his mistake and believes there is plenty of time for United to get their Champions League campaign back on track.

He said: "In terms of Jesse, no footballer likes making mistakes, but it's part and parcel of the game. We're humans, every footballer makes mistakes. We'll learn from it, he'll learn from it and he'll pick himself up and be ready to go on Sunday because that's part of football.

"Discipline is a huge part of tournament football. For example, if this was a knockout game and we go out of the competition because we go down to 10 men, I'm sure everyone would be kicking themselves. We're fortunate that it's the first game of the group and we have loads of time to bounce back from it, but discipline is a huge part of football.

"I think the majority of their chances came in the first half when we were playing with a back four and we couldn't really get out to stop the crosses or defend the box well enough with the bodies that they were throwing forward.

"In the second half, I thought we looked controlled without the ball without being a huge threat on the counter-attack. We could have done more on the ball, but without it, I felt like they didn't create big opportunities.

"In terms of the shape without the ball, I felt like we were a lot better when we went to a back three. In terms of pushing forward, we maybe could've done a little bit more."

Merson: Result not a surprise

Sky Sports' Paul Merson on Soccer Special:

"Manchester United haven't got going. Against Wolves, they were very fortunate. Against Newcastle when it was 1-1, it was a heads-or-tails game. It could have easily gone Newcastle's way.

"Champions League football is hard and it doesn't matter who you are playing. For Young Boys, this is their biggest game ever. And if you don't match that, you are in trouble. This isn't the biggest shock to me.

"Manchester United couldn't get out of their half. If that was Manchester City with 10 men, Young Boys wouldn't have touched the ball."

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