The Manchester United dressing room is “like a holiday camp” and the owners can’t allow the current situation to run until the end of the season, says Jamie Redknapp.
United were hammered 5-0 at home to rivals Liverpool on Sunday and despite spending heavily to bring in Cristiano Ronaldo, Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho in the summer, one point from their last four Premier League games has left them eight points behind league leaders Chelsea.
While under-pressure manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is expected to remain in charge, Sky Sports pundit Redknapp says “everything is unravelling” at the club and believes a change is needed to turn United’s fortunes around and shift the attitude of the players.
“When you look at Man Utd now as a team and an organisation, the defeat to Liverpool didn’t surprise me at all,” Redknapp told the Essential Football Podcast.
“Obviously the scoreline was something you wouldn’t predict before the game, but I didn’t expect anything other than a Liverpool win. When you look at the two sides, one is an organised, well-oiled machine and the other is a team full of quality players and individuals, but I don’t think they’ve got a structure or organisation in place and it doesn’t feel like they’re playing for each other right now.
“The players are playing too individually, not collectively, and I do think that comes down a lot to the manager.
“It’s a situation right now at Man Utd where players look like they’re not taking information on board, and it certainly isn’t working. I know there’s talk about giving Ole more time but I don’t know how you can say ‘we’re going to give a manager until the end of the season’ when right now you can see everything is unravelling.
“I’ve been in dressing rooms before when things aren’t working for the manager and that’s what it looks like to me. It looks like that dressing room, in the kindest way, it feels like it would be a bit of a holiday camp. I can’t imagine Solskjaer is going in there pointing his finger telling players what they’ve got to do.
“Everything just seems too nice. Players are getting away with things and that’s a recipe for disaster in football.
“They’ve bought themselves a bit of time but if they lose against Tottenham and then lose a couple more games, I’m sorry, but he can’t stay.
“It’s difficult because it’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, of course he’s a well-respected figure at the club. I said two years ago, it’s going to be like shooting Bambi. But you have to sometimes look at what’s best for the team. Even he will look at it and go, ‘I can’t keep my job under these circumstances’. The club have spent an enormous amount of money since he’s been there, they’ve brought in great players and now they still look miles off.”
Redknapp says United’s squad is good enough to compete with the Premier League’s best for the title – but he believes their defensive display against Liverpool showed they don’t have the ‘fear-factor’ with their manager to work hard enough defensively.
“They have the quality, for sure,” said Redknapp. “They shouldn’t be in the position where they are now where they’re out of the Carabao Cup, struggling in the Champions League… no way should that team be losing 5-0. If you’re losing 5-0 to Liverpool you have a major problem. It was very damning what I saw.
“The players weren’t getting close enough, they weren’t winning individual battles. There was a lack of discipline with what Paul Pogba did.
They have the quality, for sure. They shouldn’t be in the position where they are now where they’re out of the Carabao Cup, struggling in the Champions League… no way should that team be losing 5-0. If you’re losing 5-0 to Liverpool you have a major problem. It was very damning what I saw.
“Liverpool’s players run through brick walls. They will do everything; they chase, they harry… But you look at Man Utd and for one of the goals, Aaron Wan-Bissaka goes to close down Andy Robertson and he’s just off it, but Robertson then runs the other way to get in a position where if they’d played him back in, he’d have scored and Wan-Bissaka is 30 yards off him.
“That has nothing to do with tactics, that has to do with a manager making you play with so much fear that if you don’t run back you’re out of the team. Man Utd players aren’t playing like that. Liverpool’s players are in fear of Jurgen Klopp, in the nicest way. They know if they don’t run or chase, they’ll come out of the team. Under Ole, players aren’t really scared.
“Luke Shaw, when he doesn’t react to the ball when it comes to Mohamed Salah, that comes from being switched on and ready for the battle. I don’t think this Man Utd team right now, with Ole, are getting this message across. That is a major problem. If you look at Pep Guardiola, he gets Manchester City running.”
Former Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has been linked with a return to the Premier League and Redknapp says the Italian would be an ideal option for United.
“Who do you get in? I think Antonio Conte would be a great fit because one or two of them need a kick up the backside,” said Redknapp. “They need to know when they’re not doing well and that’s not the case right now.
“He’s going to sometimes upset players, make sure they’re on their toes… I’m not sure Ole has that personality. If you lose 5-0 at home, there isn’t a manager in the world who wouldn’t come under massive pressure.
“I can’t say I’ve ever been sold on Solskjaer as the United manager if I’m brutally honest. He’s done an OK job but we’re talking about Man Utd. You want the best person in charge of your club and I don’t think Ole is that man. I’ve got a load of respect for him but you want the best.
“United want to win titles but players have to respect the manager, and when you look at who he’s up against and how he got the job in the first place… you have to have the best and I don’t believe he’s the right man to take this club forward.”
Redknapp says there must now be a response from the United players at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday to prove they want to play for Solskjaer – but warned victory this weekend would not be the end of the problems the team and club are facing.
“There has to be a response. If they’ve got any respect for themselves and the manager, there has to be a response from Man Utd’s point of view,” he said.
“They’ve had a bit of time to work. They’ve had four or five days now. But it’s about building players’ confidence again. They’ll be on the floor. If you’ve got anything about yourself you look in the mirror and say ‘I’m not doing enough’, but I’m not sure players do that in football as often as they should.
“They need to have a real understanding of what they need to do individually. ‘Can I do my job individually to make the team better?’ If they care about their club and manager and want to keep him in a job – which is important – they’ll produce a performance on Saturday.
“This is an incredibly hard game to call because you don’t know what damage it has done internally at Man Utd. But it hasn’t changed my mind. Even if Man Utd won, I still think long term, there have to be changes at the club.
“United have proven they can win individual games with a bit of individual brilliance but they need a manager who is going to turn them into a team.
“If Tottenham go about it in the right way, I think Tottenham could win. I do expect there to be goals – both teams are struggling in defence. Harry Maguire is bang out of form but the whole team for Man Utd is right now.”