In isolation Manchester United‘s 1-0 loss to Barcelona felt more positive than negative.
Defeat is never welcome but the manner of it, set against pre-match expectations of a Lionel Messi masterclass, leaves a smidgen of optimism for Tuesday’s return leg.
Scott McTominay enjoyed a breakthrough performance, Fred was the midfielder United hoped they’d signed, and Chris Smalling handled Messi as well as any defender could, leaving his mark for all to see
But the broader picture is that United have now lost four of their last five games and the realities of life as manager are beginning to grip Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
His sunshine soundbites were the perfect antidote to Jose Mourinho’s gloom but now the task shifts, requiring an approach of greater nuance and permanence.
A bottoming-out of results after 14 wins in Solskjaer’s first 17 matches was inevitable, and some of the luck United experienced in that sequence has gone the other way in recent weeks. But issues that were prevalent under Mourinho have also re-emerged -DAILYMAIL.