• Sunday’s embarrassing 2-0 defeat at the hands of relegated Cardiff City saw the fallen giants end a miserable campaign in sixth place, no fewer than 32 points behind champions and rivals City.
• It’s not fair to blame others. When you have a bad season, 75 per cent is the responsibility of the players — Ander Herrera
Manchester United’s players — not Jose Mourinho — should take the majority of the blame for their shambolic season, according to outgoing midfielder Ander Herrera.
The 29–year-old, set for a lucrative move to Paris Saint-Germain, also believes it will be ‘tough’ for United to return to the top but says Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is the right man to oversee a rebuild at Old Trafford.
Sunday’s embarrassing 2-0 defeat at the hands of relegated Cardiff City saw the fallen giants end a miserable campaign in sixth place, no fewer than 32 points behind champions and rivals City.
Some have blamed United’s top brass for a scattergun transfer policy while others say Mourinho, dismissed in December, is responsible for the club’s plight. At full-time on Sunday, one supporter in the Stretford End launched a tirade of abuse at Paul Pogba.
Hererra, omitted from the squad which fell to a limp defeat against the Bluebirds, says those on the pitch should be held to account.
“We have to take responsibility, all of us,” the Spaniard explained. “It’s not fair to blame others. When you have a bad season, 75 percent is the responsibility of the players. It’s very easy when a manager is sacked to blame someone else but it is the fault of every one of us. Every player in the dressing room has a responsibility for what has happened this season. We have done bad things.”
Mourinho spent close to £400m on 11 players during his time at the club. After arriving in 2016, he lifted the Europa League trophy and League Cup and last season led United to second place.
However, he departed before Christmas following a 3-1 defeat at Liverpool with the club in sixth and 11 points from the top four.
“I have huge respect for Jose,” said Herrera. “He tried everything. The first season with him was quite successful. Then we were second and we had a lot of expectation for this season but it’s didn’t work. Not only because of him, because, I repeat, every player has responsibility.”
Solskjaer, originally appointed in a caretaker role, had an instant impact, leading United to 14 wins from 17 matches including a stunning 3-1 Champions League victory in Paris. However, form has dipped dramatically following the decision to give him the job full time. In United’s last 12 matches, they have picked up two wins and two draws and have lost eight times.
In the Premier League they have picked up a shoddy eight points from a possible 27 and some believe the decision to make the Norwegian’s move permanent was hasty.
Herrera, who spent five seasons at Old Trafford after signing from Athletic Bilbao is not one of them but admits Solskjaer will not be able to turn things around quickly.
“I really believe in Ole,” he said. “But I think there is a tough job ahead. That is my opinion as a fan and as someone who knows the club at the moment. The club will need time, confidence and support. I am sure they will give it but the only thing I ask for them is time because this is not easy.”
“I am leaving this club and they haven’t won one title in five years I have been here. The right person is at the wheel.”
Much has been made over a perceived attitude problem and lack of support for the manager in United’s dressing but Herrera, who joined his team-mates on the pitch following the final whistle to say his farewells, is adamant that is not the case.
“Ole is one of the best people I have ever met in football,” he said. “Everyone loves him in the dressing room. Everyone wants to fight for him. When you have the players behind you and wanting to fight for you, part of the job is done. I believe in karma and if you are a good person, if you are honest and sincere with the players and the fans, sooner or later it will work.”
“I think Ole is the right person because he has qualities and knowledge but also he is a great man and a great person.”