Former Liverpool midfielder Danny Murphy has explained how Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has to manage the Portuguese superstar carefully to keep other stars happy
United are in the midst of a run of form that has seen them win just three of their last eight games, two of which have come in the Champions League.
That run has taken place ahead of Solskjaer’s side welcoming fierce rivals Liverpool to Old Trafford – a fixture that saw United on the wrong end of a 4-2 score-line last time Jurgen Klopp’s side were in town.
United failed to beat Liverpool in either of their league meetings last term, but are boosted this time around by the added presence of Ronaldo.
The Portugal captain has notched six goals in eight games across all competitions since his triumphant return to Old Trafford.
But Murphy believes the 36-year-old comes with baggage.
“His presence creates more problems than it solves,” Murphy wrote in the Daily Mail.
“United scored plenty without him and Ronaldo’s arrival has impacted on game-time for others.
“Mason Greenwood would have had more time at centre-forward, allowing Jadon Sancho to play more on the right wing and bed-in better than he has done.”
The recent defeats to Aston Villa and Leicester have seen United’s title credentials called into question, as they currently languish in sixth on 14 points.
That total leaves them eight points adrift of league leaders Chelsea having played a game less, while Sunday’s opponents Liverpool have a four-point cushion over the Red Devils.
One of their most pressing issues, according to Murphy, is a ‘lack of leadership’ allowing players to underperform without a fear of the consequences.
Murphy went on to reveal where he feels United are going wrong.
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“Players need to be made aware of their duties and understand there are consequences if they don’t carry out the instructions,” the former Liverpool midfielder explained.
“At United, there are too many in the comfort zone. Until there are more repercussions for bad performances, they are going to have problems.
“[Thomas] Tuchel, Klopp and [Pep] Guardiola would make United more competitive with the players Solskjaer has to choose from.”
Despite the current feel of doom and gloom around the club, Solskjaer will know all too well that a win against Liverpool will not only propel his side back into the top four – but could also act as a perfect springboard to kickstart their campaign.