Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Says UEL Ball Is 'Different and Difficult to Play With'

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 21, 2020

BRUGGE, BELGIUM - FEBRUARY 20: Manchester's Anthony Martial (L) during the UEFA Europa League round of 32 first leg match between Club Brugge and Manchester United at Jan Breydel Stadium on February 20, 2020 in Brugge, Belgium. (Photo by Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images)
Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said his side struggled to play with the UEFA Europa League ball in their 1-1 draw with Club Brugge on Thursday

The Red Devils put in an uninspiring performance as they met the Belgian side in the away leg of their round-of-32 tie in wet and windy conditions.

Solskjaer said:

"It was a difficult game against a well-organised team in difficult conditions. I don't think it was one of the best games that anyone's seen.

"A bit sloppy concentration-wise, but the conditions with the pitch and the ball makes it hard. 

"[The ball is] just different and difficult to play with. You can get one and try! It's light.

"But it's the same for the two teams, of course. But the conditions weren't nice, the wind and the rain."

Manchester United provided more from Solskjaer on the conditions in Belgium:

United fell behind after 15 minutes when Simon Mignolet caught them out with a quickly taken goal-kick and Emmanuel Bonaventure Dennis capitalised on Sergio Romero being well off his line (U.S. and UK only, respectively):

The Premier League side were level before the break, though.

Anthony Martial latched on to a poor throw-in from Maxim De Cuyper and raced clear of Brandon Mechele before slotting home (U.S. and UK only, respectively):

Bruno Fernandes came on for the final 10 minutes and immediately improved the quality on display, though he could have been used sooner:

Martial was the lone forward player in a 3-4-2-1 formation. Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard were the two behind him, while Nemanja Matic partnered Andreas Pereira in the centre of the pitch.

The Red Devils are set to play at least seven matches by March 21, so some rotation is to be expected, but it wasn't a particularly inspiring lineup for the competition that arguably represents their best chance of UEFA Champions League qualification.

United have had seven matches to get accustomed to this season's Europa League ball, which is manufactured by Molten, although the fact they have only scored more than once on two occasions could be evidence of their struggles to do so.

They have yet to concede at Old Trafford in this competition this season, and they are ahead in the tie thanks to their away goal.

Brugge managed to secure score draws at Real Madrid and Galatasaray in the Champions League group stage, though, so they should not be taken lightly.

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