Man United crisis: former 'Fergie Babes' have their say
Following Manchester United's loss to Newcastle that leaves the club 12th in the table, several former players have come out to give their opinion and vent their frustrations.
Manchester United have now hit the lowest point of the post-Alex Ferguson era. Following defeat at Newcastle on Sunday, the club sits 12th in the Premier League table, with two wins from eight and just five victories since March.
Following the signings of Harry Maguire, Daniel James and Aaron Wan Bissaka in the summer, optimism was high around Old Trafford, where a top four finish seemed an attainable goal, particularly after the 4-0 thrashing of Europa League Champions, Chelsea, on the opening weekend.
Such a scenario would have been unthinkable in the days of Alex Ferguson. And a number of legends who played under the great Scot have come out to give their view and vent their frustrations on the crisis currently rotting their former club, whose descent from the heady heights of the 'Fergie' days has now gone into free-fall.
Former England and United right back, Gary Neville, did not point the figure of blame at Solskjaer, instead calling for an end to chief executive Ed Woodward running footballing matters at Old Trafford, while lamenting the club’s inability to replace some of the big summer departures.
"They had [Marouane] Fellaini, [Ander] Herrera, [Chris] Smalling, [Alexis] Sanchez, [Romelu] Lukaku and probably four or five others who either had their chance at the club, didn’t suit the style or didn’t want to be at the club,” Neville told Sky Sports.
"He has got half of them out, there is no doubt Man United would be a better team today with those five players in the squad. Solskjaer probably knew that and so did the club.
Neville went on to add: “I don’t believe the guy at the top should be there doing it anymore, I think he has had his chance but that is another story… The board need to hold their nerve. They’re responsible for this with poor recruitment, poor selection of managers, going with them and then pulling off them.”
Neville’s former team mate, Ryan Giggs, who took over as interim coach for a short period following the sacking of Ferguson’s predecessor David Moyes and before the arrival of Louis Van Gaal, backed Solskjaer and said the Norwegian coach needs time.
“I see what Ole is doing and I support that,” he told the Sun. “He’s brought in three players, but he probably needs seven or eight.
“So he needs another four or five. But you can’t do that over one transfer window, so you have to be patient because it will be slow. What he is trying to do was much needed. He needs time.”
Robin Van Persie
Former Arsenal and United striker, Robin Van Persie, who was one of the players in the squad the last time United lifted the Premier League trophy in 2013, placed more of the blame on Solskjaer, questioning the Norwegian’s man management skills.
“Even though you can see the players are low in confidence, he needs to find a way to reconnect again and to get their confidence high,” the former Dutch international told Optus Sport after seeing Solskjaer’s post-match interview following the Newcastle debacle.
“As a manager, when your team is low in confidence, get them up, when your team is too high in confidence, when they are becoming a little bit too much, you have to get them back to the middle again.
“At the moment, based on this interview, and based on what I’ve seen in the game, I’m not sure if he really knows how to find the buttons there.”
Former Old Trafford central midfielder, Paul Ince, was also highly critical of Solskjaer, blasted the lack of leadership at the club, and even took a swipe at goalkeeper David de Gea over the manner of his post-match interview following the Newcastle defeat.
“This is one of the top players, the leaders at Man Utd, who has just signed a five-year contract. And he looks like he doesn’t have a clue what’s going on. If you’re a United fan listening to your goalkeeper - one of the main leaders in the team - and that’s the interview you hear, you’d be right to be disgraced,” Ince told Paddy Power.
“The club is a total mess,” Ince added. “There are so many things that aren’t right. There’s absolutely no leadership from the very top of the club to the bottom. It begs the question, what exactly are the team working on in training? What are they doing?
"I want Ole to do well, because I want the club to do well, but all he keeps saying is ‘we’re working hard’, but what on? We’ve seen no improvements in the team. I want to know what exactly they’re supposed to be working on, because I’m not seeing anything.”
Another midfield legend of the 90s heydays at Old Trafford, Lee Sharpe layed less blame on the manager, and, like Neville, pointed the finger at Woodward and the board.
“The last three managers, and the last three ways of doing things, have all not worked. So I don’t think it is just the managers. You’ve got to look at who is appointing the managers and who’s running the club from the top,” Sharpe told TalkSport.
“This is another way of doing it, with Ole and playing youngsters and getting lads through the academy and getting rid of players like [Romelu] Lukaku and [Alexis] Sanchez and [Ander] Herrera. It is another avenue and they’ve got to trust what they are doing.
“Otherwise it’s another change at Christmas and it all starts from the beginning again."
The ex-Leeds and Man United playmaker also recommended that the club break the bank to sign a top class striker like Harry Kane: “You need someone like a Harry Kane for £200m/£220m that is going to score you 25 goals a season and you’ve got a different outlook in the team.”