Gary Neville believes Cristiano Ronaldo’s decision to storm down the tunnel following Manchester United’s draw with Everton piles ‘immense pressure’ on manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Ronaldo started Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Old Trafford among the substitutes and couldn’t inspire United to victory when introduced during the second half.
At the final whistle, the Portuguese star looked visibly angry as he walked straight back to the dressing room muttering to himself.
Cristiano Ronaldo was visibly frustrated after Manchester United’s draw against Everton
He was seen muttering to himself as he stormed down the tunnel at Old Trafford
It only caused another headache for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as the manager’s problems mount
United legend Neville said Ronaldo’s actions only cause Solskjaer another headache at a time when the team’s form has slipped. They have now failed to win four of their last seven games in all competitions.
Speaking on Sky Sports, Neville said: ‘I watched him walk off and I can’t say I like it.
‘Is Cristiano upset when he doesn’t play? Yes. Is Cristiano upset when he doesn’t score? Yes. Is Cristiano annoyed as hell when the team don’t win? Of course.
‘We know those things. He doesn’t have to prove that.
‘He walked off the pitch muttering to himself, which throws the questions up in the air – what’s he saying? Who is he annoyed with?
‘It can only come back to the manager. Actions like that – and Cristiano is smart enough to know this – will bring real pressure on the manager, more pressure than Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is already under.
Gary Neville believes Ronaldo’s actions only give United’s manager an unnecessary headache
United have failed to win in four of the seven games since Ronaldo made his comeback
‘I think that is something that just has to be managed in the next couple of months. Cristiano is not always going to score, he’s maybe not going to play every single game.
‘But I think if he walks off like that, it’s going to put immense pressure on Solskjaer. There’s no doubt the talk after the game was about the manager.
‘He has this collection of players but they haven’t got this style of play, they haven’t got this or that. He didn’t pick Ronaldo…’
Ronaldo, 36, has already scored five goals since re-joining United from Juventus back in August, including a last minute winner against Villarreal in the Champions League last week.
But Solskjaer’s decision to keep him benched for 57 minutes against Everton backfired as Andros Townsend cancelled out Anthony Martial’s opener.
Ronaldo started on the bench and didn’t come on until the 57th minute in the 1-1 draw
While acknowledging that Ronaldo ‘isn’t a sheep’ and has the right to express his annoyance, Neville believes Solskjaer must get a grip on the situation sooner rather than later.
He added: ‘I think he has to look after himself, Ole, be selfish and make sure he manages Cristiano is such a way – and he will do, he’s managed Paul Pogba for the last couple of years pretty well.
‘I think he will have a word with Cristiano and say, “look, come on, if you’re going to do that, let’s do in in the changing room.”
‘Ultimately, you doing that on the pitch brings extra pressure, he does have that reputation and I don’t think it would have helped Ole in that situation.
‘But on the other hand, Cristiano is not a sheep either, he’s not just going to follow and not show anything, he will demonstrate his dislike and lack of happiness with that situation.’
It marked a stark contrast to the previous game, when Ronaldo scored a 95th-minute winner to defeat Villarreal in the Champions League
Man United fixtures
Premier League unless stated
October 16 Leicester City (A)
October 20 Atalanta (H)
October 24 Liverpool (H)
October 30 Tottenham (A)
November 2 Atalanta (A)
November 6 Manchester City (H)
Neville stated last week that Solskjaer will need to deliver a piece of silverware this season in order to stay as United manager for the long-term.
Solskjaer replied in his press conference ahead of the Villarreal match by saying Neville has ‘always got loads to say’ before claiming ‘ the pressure is a privilege.’
Neville reiterated his views on Sunday, saying the summer arrivals of Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane have only made achieving success more imperative.
‘I do think with those players signed, recognised world class talents, there does come a pressure to deliver,’ the former defender said.
‘When I said last week it was make or break for Ole, he knows that, he said that in his press conference. I think he recognises you have to win a trophy when you’re three or four years in and have players like that.’
There won’t be any respite for United after the international, with matches against Leicester, Atalanta, Liverpool, Tottenham, Atalanta again and Manchester City in quick succession.