Graeme Souness believes Manchester United were right to appoint Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as the club’s permanent manager last month, after insisting a change of philosophy at the club was required.
And in different circumstances, he believes Roy Keane could have been the man to shape that philosophy.
Ahead of Manchester United’s Champions League quarter-final against Barcelona that will be broadcast on Virgin Media Sport on Wednesday night, Virgin analyst Souness has suggested the Old Trafford club were shrewd to appoint one of Alex Ferguson’s former players as manager after David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho failed to win favour with the club’s supporters.
“I think United were right to give the job to Solskjaer and right to give it to him now,” stated Souness. “Waiting until the summer would not have helped as I believe the type of appointment was more important than the timing now.
I was advocating that they needed to bring in a manager who appreciates the history of the club and a guy the fans identify with. They have tried ‘The Chosen One’ in David Moyes. Maybe they didn’t give him enough time to prove he could do the job, but they moved on quickly from that choice.
“Then they hired two of the biggest names in management and they have not worked, so they had to get back to what was successful and that meant returning to the formula that brought them all those trophies under Alex Ferguson.
“Going to get another big name who would want to come in and change everything from top to bottom at the club as soon as he got there is not what was needed at United.
“A high profile manager brings in training staff, medical staff, new players, new methods. Everything changes and that take time that United simply didn’t have.
“They needed to take a step back, try and steady the ship that was rocking under Jose Mourinho and Solskjaer has done that and the wins he put together in his first few weeks at the club meant he earned the right to get it full time.
“I would have probably expected someone like Ryan Giggs to get it ahead of him and if circumstances were different, maybe Roy Keane would have been the man in the frame for the role I have described.
“When you have a history with the club, you tend to get a block of time and a bit more because the fans and the club’s owners will stay with you for that bit longer. Let’s see how Solskjaer goes, but he will certainly get more time and patience than others have been afford in the United job over the last few years because of who he is and what he has done for that club.”
Souness believes Lionel Messi holds the key in the Champions League quarter-final against United, as he suggested the Argentine maestro could swing the tie in Barcelona’s favour.
“If you were taking Messi out of the equation, I’d say it was a 50-50 game and could go either way. When you factor Messi into the mix, suddenly the odds start to stack heavily in Barcelona’s favour,” he added.
“This guy is the greatest player to ever kick a football and on his own, he swings the balance and now we are looking at a match that is probably 75-25% in Barca’s favour at Old Trafford.”
Virgin Media Sport will host the UEFA Champions League matches on Wednesdays and the UEFA Europa League on Thursdays.