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‘Make or break’ for Solskjaer as ‘shadow of Keane’ hangs over Man Utd

Steve McClaren believes Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will live or die by the decision to bring Cristiano Ronaldo back to Manchester United and likened the Portuguese’s influence to that of Roy Keane.

The return of Ronaldo was supposed to be the icing on the cake for United’s possible title challenge. Solskjaer has assembled an enviable array of attacking players who would walk into most teams around Europe. But they have struggled for consistency and sit sixth in the table, nine points behind table-topping Chelsea.

A 5-0 defeat to Liverpool followed by a toothless 2-0 reverse at home to Manchester City has heaped pressure on Solskjaer. There are those in the media who feel he is lucky to still have his Old Trafford job.

Brendan Rodgers appears favourite to step into his shoes if the United hierarchy do pull the trigger. McClaren knows the club well having been part of the coaching staff during the run to the 1999 treble.

And he sees parallels between the pressure felt in that squad and what the Norwegian must now be experiencing having signed a legend.

“I remember walking into that dressing room and every one of them at Manchester United, [Peter] Schmeichel all the way through to [Ryan] Giggs in that one to 11, even the likes of Phil Neville, [Nicky] Butt, Scholesy [Paul Scholes] those players on the fringes had won things so they knew how to win things,” he said, per The Mail.

“He [Solskjaer]’s brought Ronaldo and Varane – Ronaldo especially – he knows how to win. What he’s got to do, he’s having from what I hear such an influence in that dressing room, he’s number one and they’re looking at him.

“If he doesn’t have a dessert for dinner, the rest of the players don’t have a dessert for dinner so he’s got the followers.”

Ronaldo following Keane lead

Keane was the undisputed leader at United during their glory years under Sir Alex Ferguson. He was the player that his team-mates looked up to when times got tough.

McClaren sees similarities with the way Ronaldo has taken the side by the scruff of its neck. And, while that is a positive it can also bring problems for the man in charge.

“You see from his body language, you saw it from the game against Atalanta, he’s driving the team on, it’s reminding me a little bit like Roy Keane,” he added.

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“He was more vocal, direct, honest but I see that body language that I need more from these players, we’ve got to do more. Bringing in a person into the dressing room like that can make or break you. He can do the job, he can do it.

“What you have to do is use him, he’s the solution but he’s also the problem, if you don’t handle him right then that can be a problem for the manager.”

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