The treble winner has played down the significance of a group-stage defeat to RB Leipzig while jumping to the defence of his former team-mate
There is a “witch-hunt” to get Ole Gunnar Solskjaer out of Manchester United, according to Phil Neville, who insists the club’s early Champions League exit is not a “disaster”.
United missed the chance to book their place in the knockout stages of Europe’s elite competition after losing 3-2 away at RB Leipzig on Tuesday night.
Solskjaer’s men only needed a point to qualify, but found themselves two goals down after 13 minutes, with Manchester City loanee Angelino opening the scoring before setting up Amadou Haidara to increase the home side’s lead.
The Red Devils fell even further behind midway through the second period after Justin Kluivert capitalised on hesitant defending from Harry Maguire and fearful goalkeeping from David de Gea to chip the ball into the net, leaving the visitors facing an uphill task in the final 20 minutes.
Bruno Fernandes was able to reduce the deficit from the penalty spot before Paul Pogba’s goal set up a frantic finale, but Leipzig ultimately closed out the match to book their place in the Round of 16 for the second successive year.
There have again been calls for Solskjaer’s head following another damaging defeat, with United once again struggling for consistency at the start of the 2020-21 campaign.
However, Neville thinks the Norwegian has been subjected to a lot of unfair criticism, and he has backed the Red Devils to respond by getting a positive result in Saturday’s derby clash against Manchester City.
“There’s an awful narrative where the minute United lose a game it seems like a disaster,” the treble winner, who formed part of the club’s famous class of ’92, told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“It’s not a disaster tonight, but it’s disappointing. United wanted to be in the last 16.
“There are Manchester United teams in the past with better managers than Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – like Sir Alex Ferguson – which have gone out at this stage. It does happen, it has happened.”It’s quite a freakish time at the moment. There are managers in the Premier League who are below United in the league but have great reputations and don’t get the stick Solskjaer gets.
“If United win on Saturday – and Ole’s teams tend to do well in big moments, I think Saturday is a big moment for the manager and for the players.
“They played poorly in the first 30 minutes, they got punished in a group which was really, really difficult and they’re out of the competition. They’re now in the Europa League, they’ve got to go out and win that.
“The narrative from inside the club is far, far different to that outside the club, where it seems there’s a total witch-hunt to get this boy out of the job.”