Gary Neville v Jamie Carragher: our take on Sky Sports’ experts on the screen United debate after Livepool’s defeat
The pair were involved in a seven-minute exchange after Sunday’s loss to Liverpool and were at odds over the Red Devils’ future.
After Manchester United’s humiliation at Old Trafford on Sunday, all eyes were always on Sky Sports duo Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher.
Along with pundits Jermain Defoe and Graeme Souness, the pair analyzed what went wrong for United in their 5-0 defeat to Liverpool, before turning to the future of the club and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the long run.
After such a lively debate, our writer Michael Plant gives his take on the biggest topics from their animated conversation.
Lagging behind Premier League rivals
Neville started the debate by stating that he doesn’t think United is “close to winning the league or close to winning the Champions League”, before continuing: “I don’t think they are close to Liverpool at the moment. , being the City of Chelsea .
“Unfortunately for me I often have to see Manchester City play live, and Liverpool and Chelsea, and they are really good and Manchester United are not good, not nearly as good,” he added.
Meanwhile, Carragher later intervened to say United cannot compete with the top clubs while Solskjaer is at the helm.
The Red Devils are too inconsistent to ever win a league title under Solskjaer and lack consistency over 38 games. However, the United manager has historically had a habit of putting in great results against big opponents and has delivered several cup runs in the past. Even last year they beat Real Sociedad, AC Milan, and Roma en route to the Europa League final.
So if Solskjaer keeps the ship steady, qualifies for the next rounds of the Champions League, and stays in his lane, United could give Europe’s top prize a good shot in the spring.
But there’s no denying how far they are from Liverpool, City, and Chelsea at the moment and need a more tactically astute manager to compete with their rivals in the long run.
Solskjaer’s job is safe for now
Neville said his ex-team-mate will not be sacked before the end of the season: “I think the club will have the nerve,” he said. “I don’t think they planned a new manager this season. I think they will make it to the end of the season and stay with Ole until the end of the season.
“We’ve all been asking the questions, the media has been asking the club’s communications department the questions over the past few weeks and the feeling is, ‘No, we believe in this project’.
“The club is stable in the sense that they are not going to fire the manager and I believe they will continue today, but that brings incredible pressure,” he added later.
🗣️"This is a monstrous day for Manchester United. Losing 5-0 at home to Liverpool."
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) October 25, 2021
It would be surprising if Solskjaer were replaced immediately after that result, despite a few whispers on Monday morning that the board is thinking about his future.
However, Neville’s view that the Norwegian will remain in his position until the end of the season seems a little naive. It is clear that the club has supported their manager over the years and insisted that he is part of their long-term future, until suddenly he is not.
The next three games are huge with United against Tottenham Hotspur, Atalanta, and then City for the next international break. If things continue in the same trend, Solskjaer’s position could be untenable in early November.
The club’s hierarchy has sacked three managers since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure in 2013 and would no doubt do the same again if they felt it was necessary, even if the current boss is a club legend.
Solskjaer’s concern is how he’s lost so many of United’s match fans, while the players don’t really look like they’re fighting his corner either. It feels like the writing is on the wall.
How honest should experts be?
Neville and other ex-United players have been roundly criticized for failing to hold Solskjaer to account for poor performances in recent weeks. In fact, the former right-back said last week that he would not “call for Ole to be fired.”
It’s an opinion Carragher agreed with on Sunday. “I don’t want you to ask and I wouldn’t expect you to ask,” he told his Sky Sports colleague.
There’s a huge difference between asking a manager to be fired and admitting it might be time to look elsewhere. It is a particularly difficult situation for Neville, and to say United has to switch managers would only make the situation worse.
Neville’s views and opinions carry enormous weight and a determined attitude could be the final nail in the coffin for Solskjaer. However, the ex-defender is paid to give his honest assessment and he has invested too much in the club to give a completely true opinion. Even on Sunday, the response that he never wanted Ron Atkinson or David Moyes fired seemed a little weak.
Neville is an excellent expert – the best in the business – but his stance on Solskjaer is infuriating. He criticized the tactics, claiming United is way behind the top and calling for change, but avoiding the one thing he was paid for: giving a completely unbiased view.
🗣 "They're terrified to make a change… Manchester United need a better manager"@Carra23 discusses Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's future following Man Utd's 5-0 defeat to Liverpool at Old Trafford and what the #MUFC board might do next… pic.twitter.com/FbccyBv9ZV
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) October 24, 2021
Learning from Van Gaal and Mourinho
The big disagreement between Neville and Carragher came about whether United should look at another manager with a striking resume.
“The reason the board will remain stable and at least until the end of the season is because what happened with Jose Mourinho, with Louis Van Gaal, they will not bring in a hitman again, a hitman who will be hired in two years. does its job, they won’t do it again,” Neville said.
“Is that precisely because of what happened in the past? How long are you going back to Van Gaal and Mourinho, with managers now?” Carragher responded.
“Just because a manager has failed a great manager in the past doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look for a manager with a great resume now or in the summer,” the former Liverpool man said earlier.
Again, there are questions about Marcel’s impartiality and how sincere his opinion is. Carragher is right about this and just because Van Gaal and Mourinho failed doesn’t mean another manager would.
Actually, it seems sensible to avoid an aging coach like Van Gaal and Mourinho, but that does not rule out every candidate in world football.
One route United has still not tried is the young, dynamic boss with forward-thinking ideas. Mauricio Pochettino, Julian Nagelsmann, Thomas Tuchel, and Brendan Rodgers are a few obvious examples, but any potential new recruit should have a clear tactical plan.
Admittedly, there is no obvious candidate for now and neither Zinedine Zidane nor Antonio Conte is ideal replacements at this stage of United’s development. That might save Solskjaer some time, but it can’t keep him on the job forever.