Paul Merson believes the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo has thrown Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s plan “out the window” for Manchester United.
Solskjaer has been sacked as Manchester United manager after an “embarrassing” 4-1 loss to Watford, with Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino being the club’s main target to take over next summer.
United have confirmed that Solskjaer’s assistant Michael Carrick will be appointed on a temporary basis, with the club also revealing their intention to appoint an interim manager until the end of the season.
Following a second place finish in the Premier League last season and the summer signings of Ronaldo, Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho, United bosses expected to see further progress in this campaign.
But in his latest column, Merson says United have started the season in a worse place due to Ronaldo signing.
“Ronaldo’s signing threw the plan out the window”
I’m sorry for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. He had a plan early in the season, having finished second last season. He chased Jadon Sancho for a long time, brought him in and he gave Edinson Cavani another year.
You could see his plan: you play Cavani every other game, you have Sancho on one side, Marcus Rashford on the other, you have Mason Greenwood coming in and trading, you have the rhythm, the power, the energy , youth, skills, everything.
Then, just before the start of the season, he is given Ronaldo. I think he threw everything out the window. From day one they are not a better team with Ronaldo.
You don’t go 29 games unbeaten without playing a certain way, and bringing in Sancho gave them another weapon to play that way. With Ronaldo up there, you no longer have that weapon to play on the counterattack. And Bruno Fernandes was their best player last season – he hardly touched this season!
It’s all snowballed for Solskjaer. He had a plan, and the situation with Ronaldo threw everything out the window, just before the start of the season. They only went looking for him because they heard Man City were after him. It’s not like United are calling Juventus to ask if they are available, as Ronaldo is the missing link for United to win the Premier League. He is not!
They thought, “We can’t let him go to Man City – it’s bad enough that they end up above us every year in the league anyway!”
“Ronaldo is a legend, but Man Utd need a team”
Solskjaer tried to knock him down against Everton in early October – people say he put him down, but they got internationals the week after! He was hoping they would beat Everton to justify keeping the same team. It backfired on him, and all of a sudden he had to start playing with him again every week.
They chased Sancho for 18 months, they got him and he doesn’t play a game. People say they didn’t need Sancho, but he was perfect for the way they played block football. -attack. Now they can’t counterattack anymore, and the plan has gone completely out the window.
It is a problem for the future. Fans love Ronaldo, he’s the king. Don’t get me wrong, he’s been one of the best players in the world, but he’s the Achilles heel. The guy is a legend, with the records he set, but it’s not today.
It’s okay, people say, “He did his job, he scored goals.” But United have to play as a team to win trophies, not someone who stands in front and puts the ball in the net 20 times a season. They need a team.
It’s a legend. I’m not going to try Ronaldo, and he will become one of the best to ever play football.
But I was shot on day one on the transfer deadline day. I was shot for saying they were further away from winning the league when they signed him than before. It’s not Solskjaer’s fault – Solskjaer didn’t buy it!
I think they need to find him a job, and maybe even give him a free role. I don’t know if you can keep him in the squad, I don’t think they are dominant enough in midfield, and without Raphael Varane in defense they are everywhere.
âWhy wait until you have a permanent boss? “
Getting beaten up like that at Watford is embarrassing. Forget about the expulsion of Harry Maguire. Even in the first half, they were massacred. You would have thought that Watford was playing on a downward slope, with the wind behind them. It was one way.
They are talking about bringing in a transition manager until the end of the season. Why? It’s a lot of work before United challenge again, it’s not about stabilizing the boat.
They need a manager now, no matter how much it costs. You pay Â£ 70million, Â£ 80million for a player, but they need a manager.
If you host someone this summer and it doesn’t start well, they’ll say, “It’s not my team, I couldn’t have had such and such a player.” The new manager needs to have a clearance as early as possible before the start of the season next year.