Paul Merson reckons Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be facing the sack at Manchester United if the signing of Odion Ighalo fails to deliver the goods.
United’s desperate search to land a new centre forward on deadline day finally paid dividends with minutes to spare on Deadline Day when it was announced a deal for Ighalo had been reached.
Their somewhat scatter-gun approach has seen the likes of Edinson Cavani, Danny Ings, Islam Slimani, Dries Mertens, Salomon Rondon and – perhaps most bizarrely – Adolfo Gaich all mentioned as targets on a frantic final day.
The 30-year-old has joined from Chinese Super League club Shanghai Shenhua on a temporary deal until the end of the season, with Solskjaer delighted to have grabbed an extra option up front after injury to Marcus Rashford.
Ighalo himself has described the move as a “great opportunity” and the player has been slated in to make his debut on February 17 when United travel to take on top-four rivals Chelsea.
“I’m happy to be in Manchester first and this is a great opportunity for me.
“I’m grateful to God and to my agent and to the coach who’s given me the opportunity to be here, to walk out with the team and finish very well this season.
“It’s a dream come true because since I was a kid, I’ve always dreamed about Man United. But this is reality now, so I can’t say much until I get started.”
However, while reports in France suggest United’s move for the striker wasn’t the last-ditch scramble the British media made it out to be, Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson still believes his signing heaps even more scrutiny on Solskjaer, as well as executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward.
“Odion Ighalo could be the final straw at Manchester United. If that signing is a disaster then Ed Woodward and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer are in big trouble.
“Don’t get me wrong. He could rediscover the form he once he had at Watford and be a huge success. But he could be the biggest laughing stock the Premier League has ever seen.
“Only time will tell.
“But remember, the last time he was here he only scored once in 18 games before Watford sold him and he’ll have gotten lazy playing in China.”
Merson dismisses Ighalo, Larsson comparisons
Merson has also doubted talk that the arrival of Ighalo could have a similar affect to that of Henrik Larsson at United, with the Swede joining the club in a temporary deal back in 2007.
“I’ve heard people compare it with Henrik Larsson because nobody expected him to still be any good when United signed him either,” he added.
“But Larsson had been world class. He had scored goals in major tournaments and won big trophies. And he still had his finishing and his movement.
“Ighalo doesn’t have any of that on his CV and he’s coming into a struggling team. The biggest one he’s ever played for.
“It’s a big ask, and if it all goes horribly wrong it will just pile more pressure on the manager because you’re always judged on your signings as well as your results.”