Jamie Carragher says that Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United has only compounded Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s problems at Old Trafford.
Ronaldo’s shock return to United in August was met with much acclaim for United fans and pundits alike. And the 36-year-old hit the ground running with a brace on his debut against Newcastle.
After 12 years away, Ronaldo’s goalscoring form has not alluded him and the forward now has five goals in six games. But despite the former Juventus man’s hot streak in front of goal, United’s form has been below par.
A defeat to Young Boys in the Champions League followed a loss at home to Aston Villa and a draw with Everton on Saturday has seen the knives come out again for Solskjaer.
United sit fourth in the Premier League table, but their recent form has suggested that they may well struggle to challenge for the title.
And former Liverpool defender Carragher believes that Ronaldo’s arrival has only exacerbated the fact that United are a team of individuals.
Carragher told The Telegraph: “They remain a team of individuals rather than a team. Cristiano Ronaldo has added to that rather than fixed it.
“That’s why, despite a brilliant squad, they are not yet at the level of the other three.
“Dropping five points in their last two home games highlighted lingering inconsistency.”
Gary Neville has already voiced concerns over Ronaldo’s influence at Old Trafford. After the weekend’s draw with Everton, in which Ronaldo started on the bench, Neville said he did not like the star’s reaction to the result.
He told his Sky Sports‘ podcast: “I watched him walk off and I can’t say I like it.
Is Cristiano upset when he doesn’t play? Yes. Is Cristiano upset when he doesn’t score? Yes. Is Cristiano annoyed as hell when the team don’t win? Of course.
“We know those things. He doesn’t have to prove that.
Solskjaer: ‘We understand more than the experts’
“He walked off the pitch muttering to himself, which throws the questions up in the air – what’s he saying? Who is he annoyed with?
“It can only come back to the manager. Actions like that – and Cristiano is smart enough to know this – will bring real pressure on the manager, more pressure than Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is already under.”
The decision to leave Ronaldo on the bench was questioned by Sir Alex Ferguson.
In a conversation with former UFC champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, Sir Alex was filmed saying “you should always start with your best players”.
Solskjaer has defended his team decision, saying: “Me and him [Ronaldo], we understand more than the experts.
“It’s about picking the right moments to play him, to not play him. He’s not a young puppy anymore but he’s as professional as ever and ready to come on and he came on today with energy and attitude.”