Football News

Solskjaer urged to identify Man Utd’s “guardians” & emulate the Spurs model

By Ben Green

Published: 15:41, 24 June 2019

Former Manchester United right-back Gary Neville believes Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs to find new leaders to influence his dressing room.

The Red Devils endured a difficult season across 2018/19, culminating in the sacking of Jose Mourinho and eventual appointment of Solskjaer.

Does Solskjaer need new “guardians”? Five things to know… 

  • Despite an immediate resurgence upon Solskjaer’s appointment, Man Utd ended the season in woeful form.
  • Mourinho previously lamented the lack of “mad dog” spirit and “maturity” in his squad.
  • Neville has also hit out at some Man Utd players for lacking desire in the past.
  • In recent times, Jesse Lingard has been criticised for his social media activity, likewise Pogba on previous occasions.
  • As such, Neville believes Solskjaer needs to find some new leaders to revitalise his dressing room.

The Norwegian is set for a busy summer, with the North West club expected to make a string of signings, and Neville believes his former teammate should target “guardians” with a strong mentality, rather than just high-profile signatures.

Speaking at the Soccer Science Conference, Neville said: “When I was playing you always had three groups – the guardians, the middle group and the younger ones.

“When I started in the first team, there were players like Paul Ince and Roy Keane and one bad pass was regarded as an absolute crime.

“Manchester United doesn’t have the guardians now. Absolutely not, no. There are some good professionals there, Juan Mata for instance, Ander Herrera, when he was there, and Scott McTominay – you can see he’s a good lad and wants to play football.

“But I don’t think they carry the influence in the dressing room to be able to dominate the culture and that’s a real problem.

“In any business, in any football team if the guardians in the dressing room, the ones who have the influence, are not setting the example, then you have a big problem and have to clear them out.”

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‘Man Utd should follow Spurs formula’

Neville recently stated that it will be ‘impossible’ for Man Utd to win the Premier League in the next two years, but he believes they could soon reassert their dominance on the footballing food chain if they emulate the model imposed by Tottenham Hotspur, and in particular, Mauricio Pochettino.

He said: “I love Ole to bits. Whoever he feels is not aligned to the principles of Manchester United, he has to get rid of them.

“I remember when Mauricio Pochettino went to Tottenham, I went to see him and he had this board split in two – the ones he wanted to work with and the ones he didn’t.

“Look at Tottenham now. He did a brilliant job, along with whoever helped him on the recruitment side in the first two or three years.

“But he had to make some tough decisions and the club had to lose money to get it right and that’s what United will have to do.”