Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will take on his fifth semi-final as Manchester United this week.

With United preparing for Roma, there is little need to remind fans that Solskjaer doesn’t have to win one yet.

We looked back at these four crunch time mistakes to see if anything could be learned if United tries to make a better one this time around …

(PAUL ELLIS / AFP via Getty Images)

Manchester City – January 2020

United received a two-legged EFL Cup semi-final against bitter rivals City and in truth it was over within 38 minutes.

In Harry Maguire’s absence, Solskjaer was forced to start Phil Jones as part of a backline that had absolutely no response to City’s attack.

Bernardo Silva, Riyad Mahrez and an own goal from Andreas Pereira meant United fell 3-0 at halftime.

Although Marcus Rashford pulled one back after the break and Nemanja Matic’s drilled shot won the second leg 1-0, United lost 3-2 overall.

Pereira and Fred were accused of holding up the tide in midfield and the atmosphere at Old Trafford was much flatter than it should have been for a semifinal.

There wasn’t much belief that United could actually look ahead of City and the class divide in the first half of the first leg was worrying.

(Andy Rain / Pool via Getty Images)

Chelsea – July 2020

Solskjaer made some big selection calls for last season’s FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley and it backfired.

Sergio Romero had played in every previous round, but just like in the EFL Cup, he was dropped for the semifinals in favor of David de Gea.

De Gea had a hot afternoon and made two limp attempts to save both sides at half time, which allowed Chelsea to make it 2-0.

That decision also sparked Romero’s disenchantment with the club, which means he hasn’t played a single game this season and will be leaving under a cloud this summer.

United came into play on a long undefeated run but Solskjaer tinkered with his side.

It was a clear sign that getting in the top four was a priority. Mason Greenwood, Anthony Martial, and Paul Pogba all rested.

The 3-5-2 decision had worked against Chelsea in the league, but did not go according to plan, suppressing United as an attack threat on an extremely disappointing afternoon.

Since second place is as good as sewn, it would be a big shock if Solskjaer repeated his rotation mistake against Roma.

Sevilla v Manchester United - UEFA Europa League semi-finals(Martin Meissner / Pool via Getty Images)

Seville – August 2020

Solskjaer played his best team against Sevilla in Cologne, but they looked exhausted in the closing stages.

United had enough chances to win the game and took the lead after just 9 minutes with Bruno Fernandes’ penalty.

It wasn’t just a bad finish that cost United.

There were some terrible defenses, particularly from full-backs Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Brandon Williams at the back post, which cost United both goals.

It was similar to the dithering defensive in Leipzig last December, and Solskjaer will be hoping his backline isn’t sluggish again tomorrow on a big European night.


Manchester City – January 2021

City’s level of dominance wasn’t quite as great as it was 12 months ago, but they controlled the game at Old Trafford throughout.

The result also raised questions about the mentality of Solskjaer’s squad and their ability to perform under pressure.

Solskjaer’s side have developed in terms of league position this season, but big games like this one, the aforementioned defeat in Leipzig and the FA Cup quarter-finals to Leicester are simply over.

That has to change from tomorrow.

Tottenham were rightly criticized on Sunday as they reached four straight Cup finals without scoring a goal, with known doubts about their determination and desire to reappear.

Similar allegations would be made at United if there were five full-time semi-finals in just over a year by Thursday without reaching a single final – and for good reason.

It is time for Solskjaer and his players to show that they have learned lessons from previous mistakes and get the job done.

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