Former Liverpool defender John Arne Riise has defended under-fire Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and put the blame for the club’s current woes on the players.
The knives are seemingly being sharpened for Solskjaer after United’s dismal run of form. After a decent start to the campaign they have taken just four points from the past six games to sit sixth in the table. The Red Devils are already nine points adrift of table-topping Chelsea.
And any ambition to challenge for the title has been replaced with hope of a top-four finish. While results have been dire, the Old Trafford giants’ performances have been abject.
They capitulated to lose 4-2 to Leicester City while being embarrassed 5-0 by Liverpool. And Saturday’s toothless display in a 2-0 home loss to Manchester City did little to placate the fans.
Riise faced United many times during a seven-year spell with the Reds. And the former Norway international knows just what his compatriot has to go through when at the helm.
“I do feel for him, as a person, of course, but he’s stepped into one of the biggest jobs in the world,” he told talkSPORT.
“And when things are not going well, like they are now, it’s so easy to learn and manage it but, at the same time, I’ve watched the last three or four games of Man Utd and the attitude from the players – you can’t always blame the manager for everything.”
Manchester United table Kieran Trippier contract offer
Manchester United have reportedly offered Atletico Madrid full-back Kieran Trippier a two-and-a-half year contract, with more updates on Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard.
Riise takes aim at underperforming players
United recruited well during the summer, with Cristiano Ronaldo’s return the icing on the cake. But there is a sense that the team’s balance is not right and they lack direction.
Riise has taken it a stage further and suggested the current malaise is down to the players’ attitude.
“Look at the aggression, the tightness, the willingness to fight for the club – it’s not there from the players,” he added. “And that annoys me because like, myself, I was not the most technical player, but at least I gave 110%, no matter how I was playing.
“Look at the Man Utd players now, they don’t seem to care.”
And the 41-year-old Scandinavian suggested a couple of his ex-team-mates would not put up with the situation.
“If that happened when I was playing, I know Stevie [Gerrard], Jamie Carragher would just smash us,” he continued.