Danny Blind has ripped into Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, claiming the Norwegian’s Manchester United side lack identity and are far too passive.
The Red Devils began the season with 10 points from 12 in the Premier League as they swatted aside the likes of Leeds and Newcastle. However, they have won just two of their six matches since then in all competitions, including two defeats and a draw in their last four games at Old Trafford.
Blind, father of former United midfielder Danny and now in his second spell as Holland assistant coach under Louis van Gaal, has been less than impressed and offered a withering assessment of Solskjaer’s ability to make the team gel.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has faced questions after just two wins in his last six matches in charge
Holland assistant coach has savaged Manchester United’s boss for lacking a clear strategy
‘What is the identity of this team? What is his plan?’ he asked. ‘It is exactly that what is missing with Solskjaer.
‘There is not a tactical plan. His team are not able to put pressure on their opponents like Manchester City.
‘It does not always have to be full pressing, but we don’t see any of it – everything in the United team is based on the individual qualities of players.
‘They have those qualities and it often gets a result for the team. But it is never a team result. It has not been looking good in a number of matches. United struggle to be dominant – that is the whole problem.’
United’s most recent match saw them throw away a lead against Everton at Old Trafford
This lack of cohesion could be seen most recently in the frustrating 1-1 draw with Everton, as Anthony Martial’s firmly struck opener was cancelled out when a swift counter-attack was finished off by Andros Townsend as the hosts struggled to impose themselves on the Toffees.
Blind continued: ‘After they took the lead against Everton, they started to wait for them in their own half.
‘They want to score on the counter, but that is not good enough for a club like Manchester United.
‘The next thing that you see is how they struggle to turn the game around when Everton equalised. They hardly created any chances.
The Red Devils lost at home to Aston Villa and West Ham prior to drawing with the Toffees
‘The results are not good. They lost against Young Boys, against West Ham in the cup, against Aston Villa and they were lucky against Villarreal because of Ronaldo’s quality. Against Everton, another draw. And they only just got away with that result. It has to improve and it can improve.’
Solskjaer’s association with the club stretches back to 1996, when he was signed by Sir Alex Ferguson.
The striker went on to score 126 goals in 366 games, including a dramatic winner in the 1999 Champions League final as he also picked up six Premier League titles and two FA Cups.
Solskjaer’s side also came unstuck against Young Boys and only just squeaked past Villarreal
Solskjaer returned to The Theatre of Dreams in December 2018 as caretaker manager following Jose Mourinho’s sacking, before being appointed permanent boss the following summer.
However, his time at the helm has been up and down and he has yet to win a trophy in charge of the English giants.
Blind certainly believes that Solskjaer’s standing at United has bought him time during difficult periods.
Solskjaer scored 126 goals for United – including a Champions League final winner in 1999
‘We cannot say that Solskjaer has had a long career at [the] top level as a manager before United.
‘Yes, he was a champion in Norway. But that is a different level. I know why he gets more time than other coaches, he is a child of the club.
‘He scored that legendary goal in 1999 which helped them win the Champions League. But all that is not enough for what is being produced right now.’
Solskjaer has failed to win a major trophy since his first match in charge of United in 2018
Blind also believes that the sensational return of Cristiano Ronaldo has upset the balance of the team.
‘You are not going to change Cristiano anymore in his thinking and his approach to the game.
‘So Solskjaer will have to come up with a playing style for his team where Cristiano can still flourish and the team can still put their opponent under pressure.
Blind believes Cristiano Ronaldo’s lack of off-the-ball running is proving an issue for the team
‘Cristiano has come back and scored some important goals, but his presence in the team requires a different way of thinking tactically.
‘Normally, you would expect that the striker is the first man to chase the defenders of the opposition.
‘He will run from one defender to the other. But the team has lost its orientation. They are not in a confident structure now Ronaldo is up front.’
Blind feels Solskjaer shouldn’t be replaced yet though despite a surprising number of defeats
However, Blind added: ‘Whatever you think of Solskjaer as a manager, this is not the moment to change.
‘They are not way behind in the Premier League [they are just two points behind leaders Chelsea], but they have lost more games than you would expect.’
United’s next three games after the international break see them face Leicester and Liverpool in the league either side of a crucial home match against Atalanta in Europe.