Manchester United’s 19 game unbeaten run has come to a humbling end at the hands of Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final.
The performance from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s rotated side was another sobering reminder of just how far United are from competing for the major honours.
But the 3-1 defeat at Wembley will not define Solskjaer’s first full season in charge at Old Trafford.
And Manchester United fan and journalist Si Lloyd has perfectly summarised the mood in the United fanbase after such a disappointing result.
Dress it up how you like, Chelsea had an advantage of an extra 48 hours preparation and Solskjaer’s made changes to try and freshen things up – especially with top 4 in the balance. It’s not worked. They’ve been bullied and made a couple of horrible individual errors on the way.
— Si Lloyd (@SmnLlyd5) July 19, 2020
Solskjaer took a gamble by reverting to his five-at-the-back formation that has already been effective against Chelsea this season – but the gamble backfired.
Frank Lampard set up his team to counter-act Solskjaer’s unconventional system, and it became clear early on that United had been worked out as they were driven further and further back by the intense Chelsea press.
Chelsea are a team full of quality and punished United, but only after reprehensible individual errors.
Victor Lindelof allowed Olivier Giroud to get a run on him in the box moments before half-time, and David De Gea inexplicably failed to save Mason Mount’s effort just after.
United were architects of their own downfall with inexcusable errors this evening, but were second best throughout and fully deserving of being knocked out.
But the salient fact is that a place in the Champions League has been prioritised over an FA Cup success.
Solskjaer’s three big-hitters Mason Greenwood, Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba were all rested with West Ham at Old Trafford on Wednesday night prioritised.
Rather unfairly, Chelsea had 48 hours more preparation than United and tiredness inevitably showed.
But perspective is everything and the Reds can still have a successful season with a top four finish and Europa League win given where they were at Christmas.
Ultimately, however, the manner of the defeat against Chelsea will leave a sour taste this evening.