'Man Utd are a team of individuals' – Richards says side needs to find their identity

Manchester United
After nine Premier League games of the season, Manchester United are seventh, eight points behind leaders Chelsea

Manchester United need to “go back to basics” and decide whether to back or sack manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, says ex-England defender Micah Richards.

“It’s a team of individuals, not a collective,” said Richards on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Monday Night Club.

“They all want to be the star man, instead of doing the basics of football, like running and tackling.”

Solskjaer, who scored the winning goal for United in their 1999 Champions League final win over Bayern Munich, has been the club’s manager since December 2018, but not won any trophies.

They finished second in the Premier League last season and signed French World Cup-winning defender Raphael Varane, England forward Jadon Sancho and re-signed Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo, a five-time Ballon d’Or winner.

“If you’re bringing in Ronaldo, what’s your style of play?” asked Richards, who won the Premier League with Manchester City in 2011-12.

“Ronaldo is available so you think ‘get him’, but you try to fit in [Bruno] Fernandes, [Paul] Pogba, Sancho, [Marcus] Rashford and [Mason] Greenwood in as well, so where’s the balance?

“Get some people in behind Ronaldo to do his work if that’s what you want to do. Solskjaer said they would play on the front foot, but against Liverpool you will get picked off, just like they did.

“Get back into a shape with two defensive midfielders to defend, full-backs tucked in and play counter attack. United are not as good as Manchester City, Liverpool or Chelsea so defend deep and do what you’re good at – they need to go back to basics.”

Solskjaer helped United win the Premier League on six occasions as a player and Richards admitted he had some sympathy for the under-pressure Norwegian, who has faced calls to be sacked.

“He has such a legendary status at the club so it was always going to be difficult when things come to this,” added Richards.

“It has to be down to the coaching and some of the things were ridiculous, basic mistakes. They don’t know when to press or when to drop deep and it looks like Ole does not know what to do.

“They need to back him and say he will go to the end of the season or bring someone else in.

“I feel sorry for him, looking at a person who has this legendary status but he looks a bit out of his depth. If that can’t be resolved they need to move forward.”

Chris Sutton, a Premier League winner with Blackburn, felt Solskjaer has kept his position because of his playing record.

“They are the biggest club in the world, but what happened at the weekend was embarrassing,” said Sutton.

“What is the identity at Manchester United? The performances haven’t been there in a season where expectations have gone up. [David] Moyes, [Louis] van Gaal, [Jose] Mourinho, all would have been sacked if they were in Ole’s position.”

Former England midfielder Karen Carney felt Liverpool were not even at their best against United on Sunday.

“There was such a gulf in class and United could not get out of their own half,” she said. “I’ve never seen such a massive gulf and Liverpool were in third gear.

“If that was under Jose Mourinho he would’ve gone. You don’t lose to your rivals in that way and that manner.”

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