After Manchester United’s defeat at home to Manchester City saw them fall 25 points behind their neighbours in the Premier League, Sky Sports pundits looked ahead to a massive summer for the club.
Roy Keane, Gary Neville and Graeme Souness all had their say on what needs to happen at Old Trafford both on and off the pitch if they want to return to the top.
Man Utd vs Chelsea
April 28, 2019, 4:15pm
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United have spent heavily in recent windows and the 14 players they used against City cost £427m, only £14m less than the cost of City’s line-up – but the lack of direction and planning means they lag a long way behind.
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- Keane: Players will throw Ole under the bus
Gary Neville: Pogba’s playing like somebody who doesn’t want to be there
“I don’t think he wants to be here, that’s his problem. His agent [Mino Raiola] is into him. He’s done brilliant for Ole, by the way, scored 11 goals and made seven assists or so.
“I thought a few months ago that everything was brilliant, but I said that I believed the issues would resurface. We know his agent, we know the influence he has, and he’s had his head turned by other clubs.
“He’s playing like somebody who doesn’t quite want to be here. But a player who doesn’t want to be at the club, and has a big influence in the dressing room on the likes of [Jesse] Lingard and [Marcus] Rashford, if he’s not at it, it’s a massive problem.”
Roy Keane: United aren’t a big draw right now – and it’s chaos behind the scenes
“The recruitment isn’t where it should be. When we were at United we always felt United were on top of everything – that’s what we felt, even if it wasn’t the case. We thought we were the best on the pitch, off the pitch, the people in the background, and the medical side of things. I just get the impression that United have slackened off in every aspect.
“They’ve invested heavily but lots of deals haven’t worked out. The players who’ve come in haven’t come off for them. Which brilliant players out there would want to come to United? I always thought that you should and I would always say you have got to go to United – it’s a brilliant club. But players now want to win the big prizes. If you’re a top player now you will not want to come to Man United because there are better options out there.
“Who is making the final decision? You get the impression it’s chaos in the background. Ed Woodward gets a lot of criticism, the scouting department. Will Ole have the final say? I don’t know. If you speak to previous managers I bet that was a problem.”
Gary Neville: City are beating United off the pitch as well as on it – it’s time to get rid of the weeds
“Manchester United haven’t got a plan. You think about City, at the start of the season they wanted Jorginho, they didn’t get him but they didn’t panic and sign choice number two, three or four. They wanted Sanchez, didn’t get him but didn’t panic. It looks like there is control in the club and there are leaders. I think City are beating United on the pitch and off the pitch. I think off the pitch is a bigger worry than on. If they get the off pitch right, you get the on the pitch right.
“Before you identify who you want to bring in, you have to decide who you really like. You have to decide that and who you’re going to bring in. Then you have contract situations and there are five or six contract situations that are live at the moment.
“I bet Ole can’t wait for the summer to adapt the squad and clean out what he wants to clean out. Rid the garden of the weeds and bring in fresh blood. Pre-season with his own players, his own programme. For him to turn on his players last week meant that he’d seen something he didn’t like.
“I don’t think when Sir Alex Ferguson left that anyone thought United would go eight years, 10 years or 12 years without a title. But it’s happening before our eyes.”
Graeme Souness: The market isn’t in Manchester United’s favour
“United are buying under pressure and that is where mistakes are made. Could you tell me what their priority is? What position is it? A midfield player, a striker, a defender? It’s a really difficult place they find themselves in.
“It’s alright getting rid of players but you have to find people who want them. They won’t get value for them. When United go to buy players there is a premium to be paid, like all big clubs.
“Will the really big players want to come here? I still think Manchester United is an enormous attraction for most players, just not the top, top ones. It’s a testing time for them and an interesting watch for the neutral. For a Manchester United supporter it’ll test them. It won’t be fixed in one transfer window, it’ll take two or three. That’s going to take a long time to achieve.”
Keane: Solskjaer’s priority has to be the defence
“Unless you have a decent ‘keeper and a decent back four, you start there. In terms of foundations, trophies, competing at the top. I’ve been saying it for a few years at United. Everyone is talking about midfielders and attacking players, first and foremost you get your back five sorted out or else there is a long way back.
“I’d be shocked if they were anywhere near the top next year. That’s got to be the target if you’re involved at Manchester United. When you think about when we were playing and in the 80s you look at Liverpool. Would you have said Liverpool would go 30 years without winning the league? You’d think you’d need locking up.