Man United: Solskjaer MUST ‘compensate’ for Cristiano Ronaldo’s poor work pace, says Gary Neville
Gary Neville believes Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must ‘compensate’ for Cristiano Ronaldo’s weaknesses if Manchester United are to compete for the title, as the pundit called on the Norwegian to find the right ‘balance’.
Expectations at United have skyrocketed following the sensational £19.8million return of the 36-year-old this summer to Old Trafford, with fans hoping his unforgiving goalscoring record can propel the club to the Premier League title.
While Ronaldo has scored five goals in seven games, United have often looked lackluster, entering the international period with just one point from home games against Aston Villa and Everton.
Gary Neville says Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must find a solution to ‘compensate’ Ronaldo
The 36-year-old got off to a flying start back at United, scoring five goals in seven games
And Neville, who claims United were right to bring Ronaldo back to the club, says Solskjaer must find the right ‘balance’ to ‘compensate’ for Ronaldo’s lack of pressure up front and take a leaf out of Sir Alex Ferguson’s book to fetch.
“They had to make the deal, the club had to do the deal, Ole had to do the deal,” he said on Sky Bet’s The Overlap Fan Debate. ‘There are big positives involved, but there are also problems.
Ronaldo had to be managed, say, in the Barcelona semi-final in 2008, away from home, Cristiano Ronaldo was single-handedly pushed forward. [Wayne] Rooney and Ji-Sung Park were pushed wide and [Carlos] Tevez was returned to [Sergio] busquets. Because you couldn’t wear it in the big games, because in general it doesn’t work hard enough.
However, United have offered mediocre displays and won one point from two games
Neville says United boss Solskjaer must find the right ‘balance’ in his United side
“He’s up front there now, you’re never going to push up front. The idea that Manchester United are going to be an urgent team will never happen, nor did he press 10 or 15 years ago.
“So you say what is Manchester United’s style? Are they a counterattack team? That becomes difficult when you usually play against teams that are inferior to you.
“What you get is teams like Aston Villa and Everton going on the counter-attack, a little bit of quality, a half decent team against Manchester United will break them through. That is a problem. So they have to stop doing that.’
Neville added that Solskjaer will have to make a ‘big decision’ to tackle this issue as big games against Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester City are fast approaching.
He pointed to the hard-working players around Ronaldo from his first stint at United
The expert added that Mason Greenwood, Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes cannot do the same job
“There are big decisions Ole will have to make in the coming weeks to compensate for Ronaldo’s arrival. What they need to find now is a way to play with Ronaldo in there.
“I support the signing, he’s a great… I love him dearly, I couldn’t love him more, but United have to find a way to play to compensate him.
“Then if you put Bruno Fernandes in, you put Mason Greenwood in, you put Paul Pogba in, with Cristiano you continue to counterattack and you don’t win any leagues. Trust me, you don’t win leagues. So there has to be balance in the team.’
Neville also fears United’s start to the season is ‘worse than it appears on paper’
United are currently fourth in the Premier League ahead of their trip to Leicester this weekend, two points behind leaders Chelsea. Despite being within easy reach of Thomas Tuchel’s side, Neville believes United’s start to the season is ‘worse than it looks’.
“My fear for Ole is that the start of the season is worse than it looks,” he said. “Right now you look at the league and you think ‘they are two points off the top’, but they haven’t played one team yet.
“I haven’t seen United live this season because I’ve played all the other games, Liverpool have played against top teams, Chelsea have played against top teams, City have played against top teams, they have all played against each other.
United haven’t kicked a ball against a top team yet. They now have four games against the six best teams in the next month or so and I’m afraid that… look, they sometimes deliver in these games, but I’m afraid the start of the season is worse than on paper.”