Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first loss came at enormous cost – injuries to Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial – and at exactly the wrong time with huge games domestically coming up against Chelsea in the FA Cup and Liverpool in the Premier League.
Paul Pogba showed again why, for me, he is not a great player – great players emerge in troubling times to drag their team through adversity and we all saw how he downed tools during the dark days of the Jose Mourinho era.
He did play the superhero once – when the Red Devils were 2-0 down at Manchester City last season. It’s not enough. Pogba has won lots of trophies but in teams where he is not relied on and where everything is going well.
Sir Alex Ferguson was right to bomb him out in 2012. The 25-year-old’s weak mentality, poor work ethic and immaturity means you cannot build a team around him as United were hoping to do.
Pogba’s childish dismissal late on to rule himself out the second leg when two crocked team-mates are already doubts was the selfish act of someone who will never be a true leader. In conclusion, the guy is one fry short of a Happy Meal.
The only other man in a red shirt to have as bad a night was Alexis Sanchez who feels like karma for Robin van Persie. Every touch was heavy, every pass poor, every run was into trouble.
In complete contrast there was Kylian Mbappe who could win the Champions League for his hometown team – the kid is THAT GOOD. I firmly believe he and Real Madrid youngster Vinicius Junior, 18, will be the superstars of the future who will inherit Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s crowns.
A World Cup winner at 20 – Mbappe’s stats are stunning. His killer second against United was his 14th goal in just his 24th appearance in this elite competition. For comparison at that stage in their European careers Messi had two and Ronaldo zero.
My only concern is that he’s in a team getting a reputation for play acting – but United should have learnt that PSG are masters of the dark arts from the Liverpool group games.
United supporters haughtily revel in the reception they normally give to former players so why Angel di Maria – criminally misused during his one season at Old Trafford – was booed with such vitriol is a mystery.
The Argentine told United fans to go forth and multiply – not in those exact words – but his frenzied and savage celebrations in the faces of the home support told its own story of a man shocked at the torrent of abused aimed his way.
If this was a severely depleted opponent then Tottenham benefitted even further by facing an injury-ravaged Borussia Dortmund team with FOUR key players out. Skipper Marco Reus – the German’s most prolific player this season with 17 goals and 19 assists – right-back Lukasz Piszcze, emergency centre-back Julian Weigl and striker Paco Alcacer were all side-lined.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men had their own problems without Harry Kane and Dele Alli but unlike United took full advantage of the luck bestowed upon them – virtually wrapping up their Last 16 tie 3-0 thanks to volleys from Heung-min Son and Jan Vertonghen plus a late Fernando Llorente header.
IT WAS less Sarri-ball, more Sarri bawl for Chelsea in this most dismal of Premier League weeks.
The Blues were BATTERED 6-0 by majestic Manchester City – a result which lost them a top four place and asked serious questions about the mentality of this squad and the suitability of its manager Maurizio Sarri.
Every player put in performances as useful as a pogo stick in sand, which is criminal when players like Eden Hazard, N’Golo Kante and Gonzalo Higuain – who have 10 titles between them – started.
Chelsea conceded four goals in consecutive away top-flight matches for the first time since December 1990, it was their worst defeat since losing 7-0 at Nottingham Forest in April 1991 and in 2019 only relegation certainties Fulham (15) have conceded more Premier League goals than the boys in blue (13).
As bad as Sarri’s side were, City were magnificent. Talisman Sergio Aguero joined Alan Shearer on a record 11 Premier League hat-tricks and the Argentine is slowly but surely securing his legacy as the best striker this county has ever seen.
Yes Shearer is still way ahead in goals (260 to 160) and was world class but he did it in an era when defenders looked like Neil Ruddock and David Unsworth not supreme athletes like Virgil van Dijk and Rio Ferdinand.
I accept Shearer’s career crossed over with Ferdinand’s but in the seven games they faced each other when the defender was at West Ham he never scored and never won – losing five and drawing two.
He finally got the better of Ferdinand in the one game they were on the same pitch while Rio was at Leeds, edging that 4-3 and actually scoring a goal. Then Ferdinand went to Manchester United and it was even worse – seven defeats, one draw and just two goals for Shearer against this new breed of centre-back.
Shearer was also 35 when he retired after 14 seasons in the league, Aguero is 30, in just his eighth campaign in England and averaging 20 goals a season so could still feasibly break that record which has stood since 2006.
And if he finally brings City their desperately desired first Champions League crown the statue-makers will start chipping away at a big slab of bronze.
City’s main title rivals Liverpool are clinging onto control by their finger-tips – level on points, behind on goal defence but crucially having played a game less. But the big thing for Reds fans is their side have their swagger back, injured players are making a welcome return and new players like Naby Keita and Fabinho are starting to shine.
Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jordan Henderson and Gini Wijnaldum all made the match-day squad with the latter especially showing how much he has been missed. Add in the excitement bubbling under that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – expected to be out all season – is back training with the first team and you get Jurgen Klopp’s toothy grin.
After 26 games last season Klopp’s men had just drawn with Spurs and had 51 points. At the same point this term their comprehensive 3-0 demolition of Bournemouth means they are now a huge 14 points ahead of that total.
With criticism this campaign that the front three have not clicked it is somewhat surprising that the Reds have matched last season’s tally of 59 goals in the league with 12 games to go.
Of course Mo Salah scored against the crushed Cherries. The Egyptian King has never gone three Premier League games without a goal for Liverpool so having fired blanks against Leicester and West Ham it was inevitable he’d end his ‘barren run’.
Sadio Mane scored in four consecutive PL games within a single season for the first time, while Wijnaldum brought energy, zest and a classy chipped goal.
In last 12 games the Reds have dropped seven points, while for City it’s 12. This title race is more fun than bubble wrap.
AND finally England lost a true legend on Tuesday when 1966 hero Gordon Banks passed away aged 81 after a battle with kidney cancer.
The man who had the whole world in his safe hands is widely regarded as one of the best goalkeepers to have ever lived and definitely Britain’s finest. Banks is also credited for making The Save of the Century in 1970 – a remarkably piece of athleticism to deny a clearly gob-smacked Pele.
You only live once – but the brilliant Banksy is proof if you do it right, once is enough.