Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been warned that the positivity raised by the Champions League win over Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday night will be immediately wiped out if his side are beaten by Chelsea on Saturday.
The Red Devils have endured a disappointing start to the Premier League season, losing two of four matches, both at Old Trafford.
They were hammered 6-1 by Tottenham at home earlier this month but bounced back to defeat Newcastle 4-1 at the weekend after the international break.
United maintained their improved form, sealing a surprise – but deserved – win at PSG in their Champions League Group H opener on Tuesday.
Marcus Rashford’s late strike gave the Premier League side victory at the Parc des Princes after Bruno Fernandes’ penalty was cancelled out by an Anthony Martial own goal.
United’s domestic form had seen the French champions tipped to put them to the sword in Paris, with results on English soil seeing external pressure rise on Solskjaer.
The Norwegian coach’s long-term future at United has once again come into question, particularly while former Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino remains a free agent.
But while the win over PSG will have staved off some criticism of Solskjaer, former Liverpool defender Steve Nicol thinks defeat to Frank Lampard’s Chelsea at the weekend would pile the pressure straight back on the 47-year-old.
“Yes, exactly, you’re back to square one,” Nicol said on ESPN FC. “This is absolutely perfect for Ole and the Manchester United squad and team.
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“To go, again, into Paris and expect to get hammered and then do what they’re really, really good at – let’s be honest if there’s one thing United can do is they can bunker and then hit you on the break with pace.
“It really was a script that was written for them. Did we expect it? No because of how they’re playing domestically.
“But it’s not a huge shock, so if they can put another performance together against Chelsea then maybe we can start giving Ole a bit of breathing room.
“But right now, it’s just one performance so you can’t expect to get a lot of breathing room through one performance.”
Craig Burley added: “If you were Solskjaer you’d be licking your chops having watched how Chelsea are still dropping points and losing goals.
“You look at the pace of Rashford, you look at the pace of Martial and then the playmaking of Fernandes behind, there’s no reason why with the current state Chelsea have started the season in that they can’t at least get a result and string some results together.
“This is a great result for them but when you’re the United manager you’re only two or three bad results or defeats away from being under the cosh again. He knows that.
“But surely this attacking performance again will give them a heck of a lot of confidence going into that big match at the weekend.”
Solskjaer, meanwhile, said of the win over PSG: “These boys can play. They enjoyed it. Attitude, work rate…
“You know the team spirit has been fantastic since they’ve come back from the international break so it’s been brilliant.
“I’m just happy for them. I know we have quite a few possibilities in the way we’re playing of course and you have to look at the opposition and how you want to play. I felt we played it right as we wanted it and all credit to them.
We looked at this game as a possibility, it’s early on and we’ve all seen that the teams who played in Europe at the end of last season, it’s taken a bit of time to get going.
“But we’ve certainly got our form back.”
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