Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Manchester United have been hit by a “punch to the stomach” by the one-two blow of defeats against Arsenal and Istanbul Basaksehir this week.

A week ago United had been riding high following a 5-0 demolition of RB Leipzig in the Champions League group stage and whilst Solskjaer is not yet out for the count he has certainly been knocked backward in his last two games: a 1-0 home defeat to Arsenal that was followed by a 2-1 loss away to Istanbul Basaksehir.

The latter saw United hand victory to the Turkish champions with two diabolical spells of defending in the first half, allowing Demba Ba to slip in behind with their entire team camped in the Basaksehir half before Edin Visca then finished off an easy counterattack.

As had been the case against Arsenal on Sunday, Solskjaer’s side ended the match hurling crosses into the box but only managed to fashion one particularly threatening chance, a Harry Maguire header that deflected off Edinson Cavani and was hacked off the goal line by Alexandru Epureanu.

United remain top of their Champions League group but find themselves 15th in the Premier League, albeit having played one game fewer than most of the division, and would be nine points off Everton, currently fourth, if they lose at Goodison Park on Saturday.

“It’s not easy to be positive now, of course it isn’t when you just lost the way we did,” Solskjaer said. “But these players are good players and we have a chance on Saturday to get going again. 

“The last two results have been a punch to the stomach. The only way I know to respond, and I hope the players as well, is to get your act together for Everton.”

Anthony Martial’s header before halftime briefly raised United hopes that they may be able to earn at least a point from the trip to Turkey but ultimately Solskjaer was left to reflect on a night when his side had handed victory to Basaksehir.

In particular Ba’s opening goal was among the most remarkable seen in the Champions League this season with the 35-year-old forward trundling his way toward Dean Henderson’s goal before Nemanja Matic could make up the 10 yard head start he had given his opponent.

“The first one, we play a short corner and we forget about the man up top and that’s unforgivable,” Solskjaer said. “You don’t see goals like that at this level. It’s not good enough. You shouldn’t concede easy goals like that. 

Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic compete with Basaksehir defenders at a Manchester United corner
Getty Images

“Obviously, it’s not a goal you normally concede so we’ve not done our duties now or done our roles. I have to say that’s my responsibility. We went to play a short corner but forgot our defending after we played a couple of passes. The second one as well, we’re not very well organized to counter press and win the ball back when we’re playing. Two soft goals to give away and then we didn’t have enough to come back in the second half. We scored from a cross, a good goal by Anthony and then you think 45 minutes to save something from the game. The second half we threw everything at it but we couldn’t break them down.”

To add to Solskjaer’s problems he could be without center-back Victor Lindelof for the trip to Everton after he was left on the bench in Istanbul with a back problem. Fellow defenders Eric Bailly and Phil Jones will be unavailable for Saturday’s game.


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