Gary Neville believes that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should focus on making defensive reinforcements his main priority during his first transfer window as Manchester United’s permanent manager.
United confirmed Solskjaer’s appointment as the club’s manager on a full-time basis earlier today. Now though, is when the real work begins for Ole. The Norwegian has a lot of work to do in the summer, and must begin planning for next season as soon as possible.
United are weak in quite a few areas on the pitch. The club haven’t had a proper right winger for 4 years now. Ander Herrera’s contract is running out and Nemanja Matic’s best days are behind him. However, according to Neville, the real priority should be improving the side’s defense.
Despite Chris Smalling and Phil Jones signing new long term contracts this season, they remain very inconsistent. Eric Bailly is class on his day, but is far too rash and a liability. Victor Lindelof is the only defender who has been consistent this season. The club are likely to look for a suitable partner for the Swede in the summer.
Full-back also remains an area where options are scarce at United. Antonio Valencia is leaving the club in the summer. Ashley Young will be 34 years old in July. Luke Shaw and Diogo Dalot are the only out and out full-backs available to Solskjaer at the moment. That is an area he must look to address in the summer.
‘I think defensively is the main [area] to look at,’ Neville told Sky Sports.
‘There’s been so many changes in the defence. I actually think the defence has done very well. It looks makeshift on paper but performs quite well. [Antonio] Valencia and [Ashley] Young have done brilliantly for a few years.
‘[Luke] Shaw has started to perform well. [Victor] Lindelof has had a good season, [Chris] Smalling is doing well. But you need a dominant presence, that’s the key thing. You look at a [new] centre back and a full back and then there are other areas they may look at as well.’
Neville also made it clear that Solskjaer will not be a success unless he gets the support he needs. All three managers who have been appointed and sacked since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement have complained about a lack of support from the board. It was the main hindrance that ultimately led to their downfall. That, by no means, can be allowed to happen again. The board must back Solskjaer in the summer or this appointment would have been for nothing.
‘From Ole’s point of view he does need the right people around him now,’ Neville added.
‘That’s something I said a few months ago. He needs quality people around him to ensure United get ahead of the game in recruitment.
‘Solskjaer is not going to be a success unless the club get the right people around him and then get the right players in… that’s absolutely essential. The amount of money Manchester United will need to spend is big. But the club haven’t fallen short in that over the last few years. I think they will spend the money.’