Last night was a reality check for Manchester United Football Club. After pulling off something special in the previous round against Paris Saint-Germain, beating FC Barcelona proved to be a step too far.
During the 180-minute tie, United were always second best. For the most part, Barca looked comfortable, and when you’ve got the brilliance of Lionel Messi to call upon, you’re always going to have a chance.
Following the game, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer spoke like a man who knew that this United side is below where they want to be. The Baby Faced Assassin went as far as saying that Barca were a couple of levels above his team, before adding that there is no time to think about what could have been.
“If we want to get back to Manchester United’s true level, true traditions, we have to challenge Barcelona,” said Solskjaer per the BBC.
“They were a couple of levels above over the two games.”
“We want to play these games again next year, so we have a massive week coming up,” Solskjaer added.
“There is no point dwelling on what could have been. We have to focus on that week.”
A club with United’s stature and presence should never be aspiring to be like anyone else, but right now, that’s the cards the Red Devils have been dealt.
The lack of investment is probably the man reason behind the struggles and the fact that the board failed to sign a new centre-half over the summer definitely hurts.
Four of the back five that played last night featured during United’s Champions League loss to Basel back in 2011. That was eight years ago. That in itself tells you everything you need to know about how far United have lagged behind.
Even for Solskjaer, he probably underestimated the task at hand. The rebuilding job is going to be a long and winding road and it could well be a few years before we’ve back at our best. Although you do have to admire the brutal honesty that he showed in the interview.