Gary Neville leads the tributes to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after his Manchester United sacking, insisting his former team-mate ‘restored some soul into the club’ despite the ‘tough’ last two months
Gary Neville thanked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for ‘restoring some soul’ at Manchester United following the Norwegian’s sacking.
The former striker was relieved of his duties on Sunday morning after three years in charge at Old Trafford following United’s dismal 4-1 defeat by Watford.
The club held an emergency board meeting after their reverse at Vicarage Road – their fifth Premier League loss since the end of September – where the decision was taken to sack the 48-year-old, with Michael Carrick taking temporary charge.
Gary Neville (R) led tributes to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (L) after he was sacked by Man United
Solskjaer was sacked on Sunday after three years in charge following their defeat at Watford
Neville had refused to call for Solskjaer’s head following damaging defeats against the likes of Leicester and Liverpool earlier this season, criticising the team’s performances but consistently stopping short of calling his former team-mate out.
Now posting on Twitter, the Sky Sports pundit Neville said: ‘Thank you Ole. You did us proud. The last two months were tough but before that you restored some soul into the club.’
Speaking to Sportsmail earlier this week, Neville said it was not his ‘style’ to call for managers to go, and that he made a decision never to do so when Arsene Wenger was coming to the end at Arsenal.
‘There are people saying this is the worst moment of my punditry career,’ Neville said.
Neville had refused to call for Solskjaer to be sacked at United during the current campaign
He has criticised his former team-mate but stopped short of calling for his dismissal
‘They say I am not being honest. But I am not paid on TV to sack managers and I ain’t doing it.
‘I know the impact of Gary Neville saying a Man United manager should be sacked. For the pundits who have said it then “Well done” but it’s not my style.
‘When I see another pundit calling for any sacking, I cringe. My stomach turns. My line is crossed with that. Maybe their line is in a different place.’
He added: ‘It’s not easy commentating on a former team-mate.
‘I think Ole not sorting out the compactness of the team earlier was silly. It was a glaring tactical omission.
‘I am happy to say that. Not good enough. But I just won’t say the other thing. Not about Ole or any manager. I never have.
‘I had to decide 11 years ago what type of person and pundit I wanted to be.
He criticised the team’s performances against the likes of Leicester and Liverpool
‘When Arsene Wenger was dying at the end I was critical of Arsenal fans marching against him. There were complaints when I called one of them a muppet.
‘As pundits we have to decide whether we are comfortable asking for a fellow human being to be sacked. I feel I am a respectable human being.’
Speaking after the 4-2 defeat at the King Power Stadium last month, Neville said: ‘He (Solskjaer) should be under massive pressure with the squad that has been assembled and the fact he’s been in the job now for two-and-a-half, three years. 100 per cent.
‘I’ve got Manchester United fans on my social media all of the time saying, ‘Gary, he’s your mate. You won’t call him out.’
‘No, I won’t. I won’t call Steve Kean out, or Arsene Wenger at Arsenal. I’m not going to come on this show 11 years later and ask for a manager to be sacked. It’s never going to happen. He’s a club legend. He’s my team-mate. I actually like him a lot.’
Neville doubled down on his argument – and said that being a pundit is ‘irrelevant’ because he prioritises being ‘someone’s friend’.
Replying to a reporter who has criticised Solskjaer’s former team-mates for not calling the Norwegian out, Neville said: ‘I’m really happy to admit I won’t ask for any manager or Ole to be sacked.
‘Me being a pundit is irrelevant compared to my position as a human being and someone’s friend. At least I admit it.’
Neville has criticised Solskjaer before after their 5-0 hammering by Liverpool at the back end of last month, saying after the game: ‘It does come down to the coaching team, it’s nowhere near good enough.
‘Manchester United are kidding themselves that they are a pressing team, that they can co-ordinate it as one. Liverpool just pull them apart.
‘Look, all over the place. This is now a really disturbing first half, it takes the game away. This was the fear. This is what Manchester United’s levels of performance have been like all season.’
But he still refused to call for his dismissal and when asked earlier this month to follow in Rio Ferdinand’s footsteps of doing so, tweeting: ‘Never. Thank you for asking though.’