Harry Maguire is confident Manchester United will recover from their nightmare Champions League start but knows they have to cut out the ill-discipline and errors that cost them in the defeat to Young Boys.
A kind-looking group started with the Red Devils’ easiest away match, yet Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s stuttering side came a cropper in Switzerland on Tuesday evening.
Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring at the rocking Stadion Wankdorf, but Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s red card in the 35th minute put United on the back foot.
Nicolas Moumi Ngamaleu deservedly drew Young Boys level in the second half before a careless Jesse Lingard backpass allowed substitute Jordan Siebatcheu to seal a stunning 2-1 stoppage-time win.
Jordan Siebatcheu celebrates scoring Young Boys’ late winner against Man Utd as Harry Maguire covers his eyes (Peter Klaunzer/AP)
“Of course discipline is a huge part of tournament football,” United captain Maguire said.
“For example, if this was a knockout game and we go out of the competition because we go down to 10 men, I am sure everyone will be kicking themselves.
Harry Maguire: “We’re humans, every footballer makes mistakes"
“It’s fortunate that it is the first game of the group and we have loads of time to bounce back from it.
“In terms of Jesse, obviously no footballer likes making mistakes but it’s part and parcel of the game.
“We’re humans, every footballer makes mistakes, we’ll learn from it, he’ll learn from it.
“He’ll pick himself up and he’ll be ready to go on Sunday because that’s part and parcel of football.”
Asked about Wan-Bissaka’s sending off for a rash challenge when attempting to atone for a heavy touch, Maguire added: “I can’t comment, really. I haven’t seen it back.
“I’m pretty sure when you slow it down and you look at it a million times and see it in slow motion, I think every tackle you could probably make something for it that it was a red card.
“Any tackle that’s a foul, you could probably say someone’s gone over the ball. I haven’t really seen it back so I can’t really comment on it.”
Referee Francois Letexier shows the red card to Manchester United’s Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Alessandro della Valle/Keystone via AP)
Wan-Bissaka’s sending off was the turning point in Bern, where former Huddersfield manager David Wagner’s side smelt blood and attacked relentlessly.
United introduced Raphael Varane and moved to a back five at half-time in a bid to stem the tide, but Solskjaer’s side were eventually undone in the Group F opener.
“I think the majority of their chances came late in the first half when we were playing a back four and we couldn’t really get out to stop the crosses,” Maguire said of the gameplan.
“We couldn’t defend the box well enough with the number of bodies that they were throwing forward into the box.
— Harry Maguire (@HarryMaguire93) September 15, 2021
“And then we’ve come out in the second half and I felt we looked controlled without the ball, without being a huge threat on the counter-attack.
“Obviously we could have done more on the ball but without the ball I felt they didn’t really create big opportunities.
“The first goal is unfortunate, the deflections and ricochets. I don’t know who it ends up going in off.
“The last goal is a mistake, which obviously happens in football, but it’s unfortunate again.
“In terms of the shape without the ball, I felt it was a lot better when we went to a back three slash back five. Obviously with the counter-attacks, we maybe could have done a little bit more.”
By Simon Peach, PA Chief Football Writer, Bern