The Red Devils come into the fixture on the back of two consecutive 1-0 home defeats at the hands of West Ham United in the third round of the Carabao Cup and against Aston Villa in the Premier League last weekend. Both losses exposed United’s frailties in the area of creating goal scoring opportunities and the lack of depth in the midfield.
As United takes on Villarreal tonight, they must have it in mind that nothing short of the three points would do, given the fact that they have already lost their opening match 2-1 away to Swiss side Young Boys Bern. The defeat to Young Boys was a huge disappointment – and for the manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, there is a worrying statistic to go with it.
The Norwegian has now lost seven out of the eleven games he has taken charge of as Manchester United manager in the competition. In those eleven games, United have managed to score a total of 17 goals and have conceded a whopping 19 in return. That in itself is DAMNING!!!
Solskjaer himself has admitted that United’s Champions League game against Villarreal on Wednesday is “very important”, but the issue here is that victory is by no means certain. Villarreal are managed by one of the game’s bright minds in the person of Unai Emery, who is more tactically sound than the Norwegian. Secondly, the Spanish side overcame the Red Devils via penalties in the Final of the UEFA Europa League last season. Apart from winning tonight, revenge should also be on United’s minds.
Also, the Red Devils are yet to get any points on board. If they are to kickstart their European campaign positively, a victory at home is a MUST. Furthermore, Manchester United have never started a European campaign by losing their first two games. The pressure is on to avoid an unwanted piece of history. Asides that, United will also be looking at avoiding three back-to-back defeats at Old Trafford – following losses to West Ham in the Carabao Cup and to Aston Villa in the Premier League.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer does not just need a win on Wednesday to reset his side’s European campaign, he also has to stop the negative talk that accompanies any sequence of disappointing results becoming something far more serious. It is time for him to prove himself.