Man United: Solskjaer MUST ‘compensate’ for Cristiano Ronaldo’s poor work rate, says Gary Neville

Gary Neville believes that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must ‘compensate’ for Cristiano Ronaldo’s weaknesses if Manchester United are to challenge for the title, as the pundit called on the Norwegian to find the right ‘balance’.

Expectations at United have skyrocketed following the 36-year-old’s sensational £19.8million return to Old Trafford this summer, with fans hopeful that his relentless goalscoring record can propel the club to the Premier League title.

While Ronaldo has hit the ground running with five goals in seven games, United have often looked lacklustre and entered the international break taking just one point from home games against Aston Villa and Everton. 


Gary Neville says that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must find a solution to ‘compensate’ for Ronaldo

The 36-year-old has made a flying start to life back at United, scoring five goals in seven games


And Neville, who maintains that United were correct to bring Ronaldo back to the club, says that Solskjaer must find the right ‘balance’ to ‘compensate’ for Ronaldo’s lack of pressing from the front and take a leaf out of Sir Alex Ferguson’s book.  

‘They had to do 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. ‘With it comes big positives, but with it also comes problems. 

‘Ronaldo had to be managed, shall we say, in the 2008 Barcelona semi-final, away from home, Cristiano Ronaldo was shoved up front on his own, [Wayne] Rooney and Ji-Sung Park were shoved wide and [Carlos] Tevez was brought back onto [Sergio] Busquets. Because you couldn’t carry him in the big games because generally he doesn’t work hard enough. 

However, United have offered lacklustre displays and have won one point from two games

Neville says that United boss Solskjaer must find the right ‘balance’ in his United side

‘He is playing up front there now, you are never going to press from the front. The idea that Manchester United are going to be a pressing team is never going to happen, he wasn’t pressing 10 or 15 years ago. 

‘So then you say what is the style of Manchester United? Are they a counter attack team? That becomes difficult when you are playing against teams that are inferior to you most of the time. 

‘What you get is teams like Aston Villa and Everton counter attacking, bit of quality, a half decent team against Manchester United will cut through them. That is a problem. So they have got to stop that.’

Neville added that Solskjaer has ‘big decision’ to make to address this issue, with big games against Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester City fast approaching.

He pointed to the hard-working players surrounding Ronaldo from his first spell at United

The pundit added that Mason Greenwood, Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes cannot do the same job

‘There is big decisions that Ole has to make in the next few weeks to compensate for Ronaldo coming. What they have to find now is a way of playing with Ronaldo in there.

‘I support the signing, he is a great… I love him to bits, I couldn’t love him any more, but United have to find a way of playing to compensate him.

‘If you then put Bruno Fernandes in there, you then put Mason Greenwood in there, you then put Paul Pogba in there, with Cristiano you are going to get cut through on the counter attack and you aren’t winning any leagues. Trust me you aren’t winning any leagues. So there has got to be a balance to the team.’  

Neville also fears that United’s start to the season has been ‘worse than it looks on paper’

United currently sit fourth in the Premier League ahead of their trip to Leicester this weekend, two points adrift of leaders Chelsea. Despite being within touching distance of Thomas Tuchel’s side, Neville believes that United’s start to the season is ‘worse than it looks’.

‘My fear for Ole is, the start of the season is worse than it looks,’ he said. ‘At the moment you look at the league and you think “they are two points off the top” but they haven’t played a single team. 

‘I have not watched United live this season because I have been doing all the other games, Liverpool have played top teams, Chelsea have played top teams, City have played top teams, they have all played each other. 

‘United haven’t kicked a ball against a top team. They now have four games against the top six teams in the next month or so and I fear that… look, they do sometimes deliver in these games, but I fear that the start of the season is worse than it is on paper.’ 


Read more:

  • The Overlap Live Fan Debate 2.0: Gary Neville, Jamie Carragher & Paul Scholes | PL Returns Part 1 – YouTube