Paul Merson admitted he was stunned at Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s decision to rest some key players for Manchester United’s FA Cup semi-final clash with Chelsea at the weekend.
The Red Devils had less time to prepare for the game than their opponents, and it showed as they put in a poor performance to lose 3-1 at Wembley and miss out on a place in this year’s final.
On top of that, however, United were clearly hurt by the decision of Solskjaer to rotate his team, meaning several big names like Paul Pogba, Mason Greenwood, Scott McTominay and Anthony Martial were left on the bench.
Writing in his column for Sky Sports, Merson said former United manager Jose Mourinho would never have made that call in such a big game, as he’s all about winning trophies.
“It’s clear that Man Utd’s next two league games are more important than the FA Cup semi-final. More important than winning a trophy. I cannot catch my breath,” Merson said.
“If that’s Jose Mourinho, he is playing his strongest team. You win trophies. You are judged on trophies!
“Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has to win something! If he wins the FA Cup it’s massive for him! There are only a few trophies he can win in a season!”
He added: “If Mourinho was in Man Utd’s position yesterday, knowing he has Arsenal in the final, he plays his strongest possible team.
“I hate the transfer window honestly, sometime I’m going to kidnap a player and stick them in the back of my car until the the transfer window is over so they can’t escape.” Click here to find out who said this.
“At the end of his career, Mourinho can say: ‘I won this, this, this, this, this, this and this. Oh, and this and this.’ There won’t be an asterisks next to one FA Cup which says: ‘Oh, that year we finished fifth instead of fourth.’ It’s all about trophies!
“I was flabbergasted at his team selection. I couldn’t believe it.”
We’re not sure many Man Utd fans will agree with this comparison as Mourinho didn’t do the best job at Old Trafford before being replaced by Solskjaer.
The Norwegian tactician may have got it wrong on this occasion, but in general he’s done well to lift the mood and improve the style of play at the club, even if results are not yet what many fans would expect.