MANCHESTER – Manchester United captain Harry Maguire said the players must share a “big responsibility” for manager Ole Gunnar Solskajer’s sacking following a dreadful run of results.
The Norwegian parted company with the club on Sunday after nearly three years as permanent manager — a shambolic 4-1 Premier League defeat at Watford proving the final straw.
Solskjaer’s former assistant Michel Carrick has been put in temporary charge while an interim manager is chosen.
Speaking ahead of Tuesday’s crucial Champions League clash away to Spanish club Villarreal, Maguire said Solskjaer’s dismissal had been an emotional day for the squad.
“It has been a very hard time as players. The amount of respect we had for the boss. We’ve been on a journey together,” Maguire, who was sent off in the defeat at Watford that left United eighth in the Premier League, told reporters.
“The players need to take a big responsibility. Ultimately the manager has paid the price, we’re all so disappointed by that. We know we haven’t been good enough. We’ve spoken about that. The lads want to succeed.”
After a bright start to the season, following the arrival of signings such as Jadon Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo, United have slumped alarmingly and have lost four of their last five league games, shipping 15 goals in the process.
“It hasn’t been good enough, not delivering individually or collectively. It snowballed from one thing to another,” Maguire said. “We have to find something within ourselves to find that focus and mentality.
“The manager came in and spoke to us (yesterday), it was an emotional day. He was a legend, he’ll remain one.”
Carrick, who worked with Solskjaer for three years, also said it had been an emotional farewell to the former striker but added his priority now was gaining the win against Villarreal that could all but seal United’s place in the last 16.
Giving little away about the club’s plans to replace Solskjaer, former midfielder Carrick said he would give his best whether it is one game, two games or a stretch longer in charge.
“It’s not the time to look back now, I know what I could have done in my own mind better,” he said.
“It’s easy to look elsewhere, as a player I was exactly the same. For me what’s next is a flight to Spain and preparing for tomorrow. All I’ve been thinking about is the game.
“We have a big game on the weekend (against Chelsea) but we will address that whenever we need to. As long as club want me I will give my best.”
United lost to Villarreal on penalties in last season’s Europa League final but avenged that with a 2-1 home victory in September – when Ronaldo scored a stoppage-time winner.
Group F is extremely tight though with United and Villarreal both on seven points from four games and Italian club Atalanta on five points and Young Boys of Switzerland on three.