Cristiano Ronaldo returned to Manchester United in a £20million transfer from Juventus which Joe Cole claims has heightened the pressure on under-fire manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer “has to go and deliver” silverware this season if he is to last another year as Manchester United manager.
That is the verdict of Joe Cole, who claims Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to the club has upped the ante for Solskjaer in his third full season in the hot seat.
Old Trafford chiefs spent heavily in the summer transfer window to sign Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane, but United have slipped to sixth in the Premier League.
They are winless in their last three top-flight games and it took yet more late heroics by Ronaldo to snatch victory over Atalanta in the Champions League in midweek.
The 3-2 win relieved some of the mounting pressure on Solskjaer, but Cole has no doubt the Norwegian is facing a season which will make or break his time as Red Devils boss.
“It’s an interesting project at Man United because they’ve obviously shown a lot of belief in Ole, and in his processes,” said Cole.
“He’s been given so much now, the squad is there; I think still a tad unbalanced, I think they’d like to be stronger in the middle of the park.
“They’ve added probably the greatest player in Man United’s history back to the club, he’s already made a massive impact, so I think for Ole the pressure is on, he has to go and deliver.
“I think it has to happen this year now, he’s been there a long time. He has got the squad to do it, can he install that mentality? Again, time will tell.”
Solskjaer has failed to deliver a trophy since his appointment to the dugout on a permanent basis in March 2019 after a brief spell as caretaker.
As Cole alluded to, central midfield has been a problem area throughout his tenure and that has shown no signs of changing this season.
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Atalanta were able to carve through United with ease while counter-attacking on Wednesday, with Scott McTominay and Fred regularly bypassed in an open 4-2-4 formation.
The hosts recovered somewhat as Bruno Fernandes dropped into a deeper role to help bolster the midfield in the second-half, but Solskjaer has been handed an injury scare regarding the Portuguese playmaker.
This leaves Fernandes facing a race against time to prove his fitness ahead of the visit of Liverpool on Sunday afternoon.
Joe Cole was talking as he participated in the first episode of the second series of Hotels.com ’s Dream Island. The series will showcase Hotels.com ’s role as the Official Travel Partner of the UEFA Champions League and will see presenter Yung Filly grill UEFA legends on their fantasy get-away. Fans will enjoy hearing about where the former players’ dream holidays would be, what they never forget to take with them and who would make up their dream beach football team, as well as answering fans’ travel questions along the way. To watch Dream Island, visit Hotels.com Europe on YouTube: YouTube.com/hotelseu