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"You can't play off the cuff nowadays" - Rio Ferdinand calls for new Manchester United identity

Rio Ferdinand
(Image credit: PA)

Rio Ferdinand has called for Manchester United to create a clear system of play.

The Red Devils have been accused of lacking the on-field identity that is much more discernible in the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has found himself under pressure of late due to some poor results, but also because there have been few signs of progress in recent months.

And Ferdinand believes his former team-mate needs to put in place a structure and style that can bring United success.

“What are we? That’s my biggest problem. There needs to be a solution. What is it?" he told The Athletic.

"I thought we’d found it against Spurs, then Raphael Varane goes off against Atalanta and we slip back to type again of being open, easy to slice through. 

"Until you find that consistency with your system then it’s going to be difficult to mount a proper challenge on all fronts. You can’t play off the cuff nowadays, teams are too good structurally and tactically.

"That is the bigger problem. If there is no structure, people start looking for excuses.

“The great teams I played in, you built your team around the most decisive player. Darren Fletcher and Owen Hargreaves didn’t give a fuck about having to run an extra two kilometres a game, because they knew, 'Cristiano [Ronaldo] is probably going to get the winner’.

“Football is different now. It is about tactics and strategy and team. Less so about getting the best out of individuals. 

"Pep Guardiola bought a £100 million player (Jack Grealish) to fit into the system. Not, ‘Get the ball to him and see what he can do, weave a bit of magic’. 

"In our day it was more imagination. ‘Go on do what you want’. Off the cuff. The system is the overriding factor now.”

United host Manchester City on Saturday in their final game before the international break.

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