Football

‘The players have underperformed’ – Solskjaer not to blame for poor Man Utd run, says Souness

A Liverpool legend says the Norwegian is being let down by his squad and doesn’t deserve the criticism he currently finds himself under

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is not to blame for Manchester United‘s poor run of form according to Graeme Souness, who says that United’s players have underperformed.

United have slipped to 15th in the Premier League standings at the start of the new season, and already find themselves nine points behind reigning champions Liverpool, albeit having played one game less.

Solskjaer saw his side open the current campaign with a 3-1 defeat against Crystal Palace, which marked the beginning of a worrying sequence of results at Old Trafford.

The Red Devils have also been beaten at home by Tottenham and Arsenal, while Chelsea came away from Manchester with a 0-0 draw, meaning six of United’s seven points amassed to date have come on the road.

The Norwegian head coach was hoping for an instant response to last weekend’s 1-0 loss to the Gunners in a midweek Champions League clash with Istanbul Basaksehir, but his team ended up being on the wrong end of a 2-1 scoreline after another uninspired display.

Rumours of ex-Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino being drafted in to steady the ship have been widespread in the wake of that result. But Souness believes the players should be held accountable for their poor performances.

The Liverpool legend feels a toxic atmosphere in the dressing room is the main reason behind the Red Devils’ struggles, and that Solskjaer has been unfairly made a scapegoat after giving his all to the club’s cause.

“I have been a manager, I’ve been sacked, I’ve been a manager under pressure, and it’s not an easy time for Ole,” Souness told Sky Sports. “He’s only ever been one game away from everything being wrong at the football club, and that’s the price on the ticket when you’re at Manchester United.

“I read in a newspaper that the players wouldn’t be against a change: the players have got Manchester United into this situation, not Ole! The players have underperformed. But the way football is these days, all the focus is on changing the manager.

“You ask your players to constantly look in the mirror and ask: can I do more? I wonder if any Manchester United players are doing that right now. Or is it the easy route, the exit hatch: ‘Get rid of the manager and everything will be fine’.

“That dressing room needs to have a close look at itself, collectively and individually, as to why they’re in this situation.

“There are some very good players in that dressing room: stand up and be counted now. For yourself first and foremost, then your families, then for your manager and football clubs.

“That’s why I stopped being a manager a long time ago, you can’t demand it from them anymore. Instead, you’re asking them. I think at the end of every sentence you end up having to say ‘Please’ today. ‘Please can you run a bit harder… please can you be more aggressive… please can you give everything’.

“They were givens, and that should be a given! You’re at a big football club at United, you never play easy games, every game you play is a cup final for the opposition. From the outside looking in, a lot of them are in their armchairs, looking to blame other people.”

United will be back in Premier League action on Saturday, with a must-win clash against Everton at Goodison Park on the cards before the international break comes into effect.

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