Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer praised the performances of all the players who made their senior team debut in a 2-1 away UEFA Europa League group stage defeat against Astana on November 28. Solskjaer handed senior team debuts to Di'Shon Bernard, Ethan Laird and Dylan Levitt in a squad that players with an average age of 22 years, the youngest Red Devils squad to have ever played in a European competition.
England International Jesse Lingard ended his 28-time goalless streak and scored the only goal for United to give a 1-0 lead at the end of 45 minutes. United slumped to a 2-1 defeat after Dmitry Shmoko's equalising goal in the 55th minute and an own goal by centre back Bernard in the 62nd minute.
Solskjaer stated that he was disappointed with the result but there were also positive pieces to pick up from the match as the boys had a strong start and did not stop fighting back after Astana scored two goals. He further added that there were some amazing performances by Bernard, Laird and Levitt.
Taking into account Bernard's horrid debut for Manchester United, the defender will never forget this match for both good and bad reasons. The 19-year-old centre held his nerve as he produced an outstanding display before the scoring the second goal of the match in his own net that ultimately sealed the defeat for the Red Devils.
However, Solskjaer backed Bernard and said that it will be next to impossible for the player to forget the own goal he scored on his debut but he should remember the remaining minutes of the match where he proved to be a rock for the defence line. The manager further added that Bernard was excellent in his tackles and that own goal was pure bad luck and nothing else.
With Manchester United having a history of handing young players their senior team debuts, Solskjaer indirectly indicated that he may send some of the players out on loan before they make way into his plans of playing for the first team. He added that a few of the players may get some benefit from going out loan.
Manchester United is currently placed at the 9th position in the Premier League after registering 4 wins, 5 draws and 4 losses in 13 matches they have played so far. With the availability of Mauricio Pochettino, pressure is mounting on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to steer the Red Devils back to winning ways or face the sack. The Red Devils next play against Aston Villa in a league match to be played at Old Trafford on December 1.
(With inputs from agencies)