Manchester United suffered a heartbreaking defeat against Villarreal in the UEFA Europa League on Wednesday night. Gerard Moreno opened the scoring in the first half before Edinson Cavani leveled the scores with his second-half strike.
The game went beyond extra-time and Unai Emery's men clinched the title with a 11-10 victory in the ensuing penalty shootout.
Manchester United have now lost four semi-finals and a final under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's leadership. While many will point to players for not turning up in the biggest game of their season as the main reason for the defeat, Solskjaer deserves a fair share of criticism.
The Norwegian's in-game management and his hesitation to bring in some fresh legs from the bench has repeatedly cost Manchester United this season. The Red Devils dominated the proceedings for the majority of the game on Wednesday but looked drained of energy as they approached the end of regular time.
Solskjaer, though, waited until the 100th minute to make his first substitution. Meanwhile, opposing manager Unai Emery had already made five substitutions by this point. Emery's men looked comfortable throughout extra time while Solskjaer's men lacked both ideas and energy.
Fresh legs could have changed Manchester United's dynamic in the Europa League final
Marcus Rashford looked like a shadow of his former against Villarreal and Bruno Fernandes wasn't at his creative best. Solskjaer failed to notice this and didn't replace both players for the entirety of the match.
The Norwegian should have used the pace of Daniel James against the tiring opposition defenders towards the end of the second half. He could have brought on Donny Van de Beek to regain control of the centre of the park after United had equalized.
Manchester United dominated the second half but started to struggle as they approached the end of regular time. Had Solskjaer made changes early in the half, his side would have been able to put Villarreal under pressure for more sustained periods.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs to show some faith in his squad players if he wants to be successful at Manchester United. The majority of the players on the bench yesterday were either bought or promoted from the academy under his leadership, so it is clear that he backs them to some extent.
However, the Norwegian needs to start trusting them to make an impact during important games during the campaign to make full use of his squad.