If Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wasn’t aware of the task ahead of him at Manchester United, he certainly is now. Barcelona knocked the Red Devils out of the Champions League in emphatic style on Tuesday night, with a 3-0 victory at Camp Nou equating to 4-0 on aggregate.
Not for the first time, Lionel Messi stole the show, and his club’s Twitter account couldn’t resist an opportunity to troll their opponents one last time.
The Argentine genius netted twice in the first half before a wonderful goal by Philippe Coutinho made sure after the break. The first goal, while a result of an error by Ashley Young, was masterful from Messi, but the second was purely down to an error by David De Gea.
Pressure is now on Solskjaer to finish in the top four, or ha will face his first full season in charge at Old Trafford outside the Champions League. The magic of his most famous visit to Camp Nou, when he scored the winner in the final of the competition in 1999, may have been slightly tainted by this result.
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United fans still love him, though, and they will still sing their song for him for the rest of the season. That song is called “Ole’s at the wheel”, meaning Barcelona’s tweet switching “Ole” for “Messi” will not be received well in Manchester.
Solskjaer, though, will be focussed on the rebuilding job he has on his hands. Four of the back five that played on Tuesday also featured in the defeat to Basel that saw Sir Alex Ferguson’s men knocked out at the Group Stage by FC Basel, so strengthening the defence appears to be his first port of call.
As for Messi and co, they’ll now wait to see if they’ll face Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool, having reached the semi finals for the first time in four years, when they last went all the way.
Back then, they also won the treble, a feat that is far from out of their reach this season. Messi set the bar again, and it is up to United to spend big, but also worth cohesively, to reach that in the years to come.