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Gary Neville questions Odion Ighalo move as Solskjaer defends his Man United players after Wolves draw

 

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Gary Neville has hit out at former club Manchester United over their recruitment (Mike Egerton/PA)

Gary Neville has hit out at former club Manchester United over their recruitment (Mike Egerton/PA)

Gary Neville has hit out at former club Manchester United over their recruitment (Mike Egerton/PA)

Gary Neville believes Manchester United's move to sign striker Odion Ighalo on transfer deadline day highlighted the club's disjointed recruitment policy.

United have struggled for goals throughout this season and with leading scorer Marcus Rashford out for an extended period due to a back problem, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was keen to add a striker to his squad in the January transfer window.

After a move for Bournemouth's Josh King failed to materialise on transfer deadline day, Shanghai Shenhua striker Ighalo was signed on loan until the end of the season and United legend Neville is not convinced by the move.

"They just needed a body in that area," said the Sky Sports analyst. "I can't let the club off the hook though, unfortunately. Romelu Lukaku told us a couple of weeks ago that he had said he was going to leave last February or March.

"That's nine months to be able to manoeuvre and get into a position to sign a striker for the club for the long-term. And yet they have ended up desperately doing one on deadline day.

"The boy may do very well. He might come in and settle in, he might score goals and do a job for the club.

"But the fact that the club were in that position, knowing that (Alexis) Sanchez and Lukaku were leaving for many, many months, tells us that Manchester United, at this moment in time, are struggling to navigate through the transfer market smartly.

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Odion Ighalo is a surprise signing for Manchester United (Nick Potts/PA)

Odion Ighalo is a surprise signing for Manchester United (Nick Potts/PA)

Odion Ighalo is a surprise signing for Manchester United (Nick Potts/PA)
 

"You can go back to Falcao, Angel Di Maria, other players, (Memphis) Depay was young at the time, but players they've signed in forward areas on the pitch haven't been good enough.

"You look at what Liverpool, Man City and Tottenham have done, and compare it to what Manchester United have done. If the recruitment is wrong you ultimately end up paying for it.

"They've signed Ighalo - maybe he can give a bit more presence in terms of putting crosses into the box.

"The fact is, United were chasing a goal at 0-0 against Wolves at home and they've had to bring on Jesse Lingard and Diogo Dalot, that tells you exactly where Manchester United are at."

United's lack of threat in the final third highlighted in the latest stalemate against Wolves, with Anthony Martial ineffective once more as Solskjaer admitted his side lacked a cutting edge.

"We have played them three times now and they haven't scored yet, so that says a lot," stated Solskjaer, after a third game against Wolves in 2020 followed last month's two FA Cup ties.

"They are hard to work down, very structured. We passed, passed and passed. In the first half we didn't have enough movement, second half was much better."

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Manchester United's new signing Bruno Fernandes. Photo: Andrew Yates/Reuters

Manchester United's new signing Bruno Fernandes. Photo: Andrew Yates/Reuters

REUTERS

Manchester United's new signing Bruno Fernandes. Photo: Andrew Yates/Reuters
 

Bruno Fernandes (above) made his United debut after a big-money move from Sporting Lisbon on Thursday and Solskjaer was happy with his contribution.

"Bruno Fernandes will become a top footballer," he said. "Give him time and he will become a very good addition for us. We dropped him deeper to get him on the ball and I thought him and Fred did very well.

"His demeanour, smile, everything about him is a boost for everyone. He is a genuine lad, a top professional and he is a winner. Today we saw glimpses of his character and we will see more and more."

Solskjaer also offered up his first comments on the signing of Ighalo, as he offered an alternate view on Neville's less than flattering verdict on his loan signing.

"Odion Ighalo is in the air and on his way to Manchester," he added. "We will give him time to settle. He is a striker, has a physical presence and is a goalscorer so he will give us a lot.

"You would be thrilled to move here when you have been a Manchester United supporter your whole life and you've been working your whole life. Being the top scorer in the Africa Cup of Nations tells you a lot about the qualities we are going to get."

Online Editors