Wayne Rooney has told Manchester United’s superstars to show some bottle and prove they care as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer fights to keep his job at Old Trafford.
United’s record goalscorer Rooney said the 5-0 Premier League defeat to rivals Liverpool on Sunday “wasn’t easy to watch”, as the Red Devils suffered their worst humiliation of Solskjaer’s reign.
Rooney felt it was jarring to see a lack of effort and application from “too many players” as Jurgen Klopp’s impressive visitors ran riot in Manchester.
United have three crunch games ahead, with Premier League fixtures against Tottenham and Manchester City either side of a Champions League trip to Atalanta.
Those are widely seen as games that will either seal Solskjaer’s fate, or see him earn a lifeline, but Rooney says there must be a drastic improvement. United have only kept one clean sheet in their last 20 matches across all competitions, the worst record among all current Premier League teams.
Rooney said: “The players have to question themselves and look at themselves. It’s too easy for the manager to take all the stick when those players are being paid a lot of money to do the job and I don’t think they’re doing it well enough.
“There is a big responsibility on those players. They are world-class players, international players and a club like Manchester United need more. Those players need to feel hurt when they lose games.”
1 – Over the last 20 matches in all competitions of each current Premier League side, Manchester United have registered the fewest clean sheets (1), with only Newcastle (37) shipping more goals over their last 20 games than the Red Devils (34). Sticking. pic.twitter.com/Y7TwQSSnJ2
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 27, 2021
Quoted in several UK newspapers, Rooney added: “There are high demands at that club, high pressure, and I’m seeing too many players not willing to run back, not willing to defend, not willing to put everything on the line and that’s not acceptable. Are you telling me that’s the manager’s fault or the players’ fault? I don’t know.”
Cristiano Ronaldo said the United fans “deserve better” in the wake of the Liverpool result. The veteran Portuguese forward’s second spell at United is not yet going to plan, with visions of a Premier League title challenge yet to be realised.
Whether Solskjaer stays in the job he has held since December 2018, initially as an interim manager, remains to be seen, but Rooney is certain the Norwegian will give it his all to avoid being forced out.
“I know Ole, he is a fighter, he’ll keep doing the right things,” said Rooney, manager of Derby County. “He will keep believing in what he believes in and try and get more out of the players because I think a big responsibility is on them players.”
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