Manchester United’s record goalscorer Wayne Rooney has said the club’s current players needed to take responsibility for the sacking of manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
The Norwegian’s three-year reign in charge at Old Trafford came to an end on Sunday, with Saturday’s 4-1 loss to Watford the final straw for the United board, who have put Michael Carrick in temporary charge while they seek to appoint an interim manager to the end of the season.
Former striker Solskjaer, one of the stars of United’s 1998/99 treble-winning campaign, who himself took charge on an interim basis in December 2018 after the sacking of Jose Mourinho and while he had some notable early successes, recent heavy defeats – including a 5-0 loss at home to Liverpool – saw his position called into question.
Rooney, now in charge of second-tier English side Derby, said Sunday: “I was so disappointed watching that (United) game yesterday because, as a manager, you can set a team up and work on shape and how you want the team to play, but there’s no excuse for some of those performances from some players.
“To see players waving their arms around and giving the ball away but blaming other people was not acceptable.”
Rooney, also the England national side’s record goalscorer, added: “I would be very angry if I saw that from my players. Those players are at one of, if not the biggest, club in the world and should feel privileged to be there.
“In my opinion, the players have to show more – that doesn’t necessarily mean winning the Premier League or the Champions League, but showing the fans that they are working hard for the club.”
Rooney, asked about a possible coaching role at Old Trafford, said he had no plans to leave Derby anytime soon.
“I’m committed to this football club until somebody above me tells me otherwise,” he said. “I speak to people at Manchester United on a regular basis and I’m sure, if they were going to come calling for me, that would have happened by now.”
As attention turned to the identity of the next United manager, Gary Neville – who played alongside Solskjaer at Old Trafford – urged the club to appoint Mauricio Pochettino, the former Tottenham Hotspur boss who is now at French giants Paris Saint-Germain.
“They are waiting on Mauricio Pochettino not being successful at another club. If he was to win the Champions League, then PSG wouldn’t let him go,” Neville, now a football pundit, told Sky Sports.
“He’s always been a stand-out candidate and the only name I’ve mentioned as someone I thought really suited Manchester United in terms of core principles and values and how they play, how he acts and behaves.
“They haven’t planned or prepared for this, it’s deteriorated so badly and so quickly. Michael takes over now, the only option the club had was to put someone in to the end of the season, that’s been obvious for the last few weeks.”