Another cup semi-final, another defeat for Manchester United as they crashed out of the Europa League following a 2-1 defeat to Sevilla in Cologne.
A Bruno Fernandes penalty put the Red Devils ahead after just 8 minutes, but goals from Suso and Luuk de Jong saw Sevilla turn the game around and progress to yet another Europa League final where they will take on either Inter Milan or Shakhtar Donetsk on Friday.
United had plenty of chances themselves to score another goal though. Anthony Martial wasted four good opportunities, Marcus Rashford failed to pull the trigger in the box in a two-on-two counter attack situation, Mason Greenwood couldn’t finish when sent through one-on-one in the box and Bruno had another effort blocked on the line. For once, the Red Devils weren’t completely void of creativity in the final third.
Instead, the main issue they had was once again the severe lack of depth in the side. Outside of the starting line-up, barring Matic for Fred, every player that could have been introduced was a downgrade in quality at a time where you need to introduce quality to change the game.
It was no surprise that Solskjær was reluctant to use his subs, but the fact it took him until the 89th minute when 2-1 down in a European semi-final to make his first changes was criminal and underlined the fact he doesn’t trust a lot of his squad.
Players like Dan James, Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Scott McTominay are all trusted by the manager seemingly but they aren’t good enough to make the difference in situations like this game, while players like Lingard, Pereira and Mata are both not of sufficient quality and don’t have the belief of the manager behind them.
With Chelsea and Manchester City almost guaranteed to spend big this summer, Manchester United would be foolish to think they can get away with not significantly upgrading their options and retaining a Top 3 position in the league.
Realistically, the club should be looking to add depth to their right-wing and striker positions, while an attacking midfielder to take the burden off Bruno Fernandes is also necessary. Additionally, they should be looking at a new defensive midfielder, a new centre-back to partner Harry Maguire and a left-back to oust Luke Shaw from the starting line-up. At that point, those players on the bench last night who aren’t trusted can be moved on and anyone who’s replaced in the starting line-up becomes a quality depth option.
With the Jadon Sancho saga set to drag on, the club need to make a decision on other transfers too and whether they prioritise to squad or the marquee name.
A third place finish with three cup semi-finals would normally be a good season, but it feels unfulfilling looking back at the year. If United are to push on the way fans want and expect them too, they need to get to work and quickly.