Manchester United had Old Trafford rocking with their Champions League win over Atalanta.
Despite trailing 2-0 at half-time, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was able to rally the troops to complete yet another dramatic European comeback with Cristiano Ronaldo‘s late header securing a 3-2 triumph.
Goals from Marcus Rashford and Harry Maguire had gotten the Red Devils back into the game after the break and by the time that the turnaround was complete, the stadium was absolutely bouncing.
Man Utd 3-2 Atalanta
From the wild celebrations that met Ronaldo’s goal to unexpected chants of support for Solskjaer at full-time, there was no escaping the fact that United fans in attendance were simply buzzing.
However, lest we forget that the atmosphere was completely different at the interval with some sections of the support booing the players off as they returned to the dressing room at 2-0 down.
Besides, early strikes from Mario Pašalić and Merih Demiral had United fans worried that their Premier League form of just one point from a possible nine was leaking into their European efforts.
Man Utd vs Atalanta Match Reaction (Football Terrace)
Solskjaer’s comments about Man Utd fans
And although United managed to turn things around on this particular question, Solskjaer was nonetheless quizzed about the half-time discontent during a post-match interview with CBS Sport.
Having made the comment that: “This crowd should never stop believing in these players,” Solskjaer was asked about whether he felt the changes in the atmosphere during the Atalanta win.
The Norwegian coach duly replied: “You do hear a little bit of grumbling. I’ve been here at this club for 18 years, more or less, and that hasn’t happened often. They know they’re better than that.”
It would be too much to say that Solskjaer poked the bear, but the United coach should be well aware that directing any criticism towards the fans was always going to go down like a lead balloon.
Jamie Carragher fires back
And once CBS Sport cut back to the studio, Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher was keen to pull up Solskjaer for his comments in what he branded as a ‘silly thing to say’ in a ‘strange interview.’
“I thought it was a strange interview that,” Carragher remarked. “The comment he made about the fans was a silly thing to say. The fans I think won them that game in the second-half.
“Man United, coming in at half-time 2-0 down to Atalanta and I don’t think they were that poor but you’re going to get grumblings, people who are unhappy.
“It’s not just that game, it’s a poor run of games and the performance they had at Leicester. When that ground is rocking, it is difficult to stop.
“I have been there as a player and it’s difficult to stop, teams get deeper and deeper. The supporters are as important as Cristiano Ronaldo, or Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, or the changes he made in the second half.
“It was a really silly thing to say that the supporters should know better when they played such a huge part in winning them the game.”
Carragher then added: “If Man United beat Liverpool on Sunday, it will again be as much because of the supporters than any player on the pitch because as you know, United haven’t got the players or the team as good as Liverpool, so they’re going to need that support.”
What was Solskjaer thinking?
It’s hard to disagree with Carragher because regardless of how earnest and sincere Solskjaer intended to be, there couldn’t have been a more ill-judged time to poke criticism at the fans.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s easy to understand that Solskjaer wanted the backing of the crowd when they were down in the dumps, but boy did the fans give them a lift during the second-half.
Either way, though, Solskjaer should know that in a rough patch where so many supporters are calling for his head that even the slightest of comments against them won’t do him any favours.