Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has blamed his side poor performance in their 1-1 draw against Club Brugge in the Europa League on the match ball and weather condition.
United took an away goal into the second leg at Old Trafford next week after Anthony Martial capitalized on a mistake from the hosts to cancel out Dennis Bonaventure’s early opener on Thursday night.
The Belgian side took the lead in the 15th minute when Dennis lobbed the onrushing Sergio Romero direct from Simon Mignolet’s goal-kick. The Nigerian also forced Romero into two saves from an acute angle while Odilon Kossounou squandered another fine chance.
But Martial equalised for United after an error from Brandon Mechele 16 minutes later with a composed finish beyond Mignolet to extend United’s unbeaten run to five games. United struggled to click offensively and looked sloppy at the back for much of the match.
The torrential rain also did not help matter throughout the first half and it subsided in the second period. Both teams had the opportunity to take the lead but failed to do so ahead of the second leg.
Speaking to reporters after the end of the game, Solskjaer said his side’s below-par display was as a result of the wet and windy conditions as well as the ‘difficult’ ball.
He said: “It was a difficult game against a well-organized team in difficult conditions, so I don’t think it was one of the best games anyone has seen.
“Bit sloppy concentration-wise, but the conditions with the pitch and the ball makes it hard. I think if you ask any player that doesn’t help when you want to play football.
“The ball is just different, and difficult to play with. It was almost like an AstroTurf, it was bouncing, the ball is very, very quick and lively. So anything can happen.
“It’s the same for the two teams, of course, but the conditions weren’t nice, the wind and the rain.
“But anyway, strange goals for both teams. Their throw-in we scored from, and then a long kick just straight through the middle. So lack of concentration from both teams there.”
Club Brugge manager Philippe Clement disagreed with Solskjaer’s assessment of the ball and weather conditions. He added that the United boss should take responsibility for his team’s poor performance and blame the ball or weather.
He said: ‘We get the balls from UEFA, so it’s not our ball. In the Europa League games it’s the same balls, so I don’t see a problem with that.”
Manchester United face Watford at Old Trafford in the Premier League on Sunday; kick-off is at 2 pm.