The glimpses of promise shown from the club’s two Champions League wins this season, against PSG and RB Leipzig, have been contrasted by poor results in the league at Old Trafford.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s second-half penalty, following a rash foul from Paul Pogba, inflicted more misery on Solskjaer – and Neville believes ‘tough decisions’ are needed to prevent the under-fire coach from ‘losing himself’.
Gary Neville urged Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to become ruthless with his Manchester United stars
Former United defender Neville (above) was critical of United after their home loss to Arsenal
In the latest edition of The Gary Neville Podcast, he said: ‘He might have to make some tough decisions, Ole. There are eight weeks to go until the January transfer window. He might have to upset a few.
‘He’s going to have to be selfish. He has to back certain players but ones that he doesn’t want, leave them out rather than trying to fit them all in.
‘He’s rotating from game to game to try and keep everyone happy but he’s going to end up losing himself if he’s not careful. There needs to be an element of consistency.
Paul Pogba endured a horror afternoon at Old Trafford with United’s home misery mounting
The result means that Solskjaer’s side have already lost three times at Old Trafford this season
‘It’s a concern in that there doesn’t look to be a balance. It felt like every move Mikel Arteta made was controlled.
‘With Ole, he’s got a group of talented, expensive players that he’s trying to work into a system. He’s going to have to pick a couple of the talented ones and tell the rest of them, you’re not playing.’
Arteta’s men picked up their first victory away at United since 2006 on Sunday and left their opponents languishing in the bottom half, having collected just seven points from their first six games.
After their emphatic triumph over last season’s Champions League semi-finalists RB Leipzig in midweek, Solskjaer opted to keep the diamond formation which had proved so effective against the Bundesliga outfit.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ended his goal drought with a penalty to hand Arsenal the victory
Instead, United were made to be second best in the centre of the field – with Scott McTominay, Fred and Pogba all singled out for scathing criticism at full time.
Neville believes the tactical choice stunted United’s ‘balance’ and even sensationally insisted that the system sparked confusion.
‘The performances have been really poor with a real lack or urgency,’ he added. ‘United thought they’d found the solution to this incredible amount of midfielders they have – six of them – by playing a diamond and trying to get four of them in.
‘Solskjaer thought he’d found the system against RB Leipzig but it’s not going to be as easy as that. It’s a big pitch at Old Trafford.
Solskjaer opted for the same system from the stunning Champions League win over RB Leipzig
Edinson Cavani, signed as a free agent, was thrown on in the second half but couldn’t score
‘They had no balance, particularly on the right – I never thought Scott McTominay being there worked at all.
‘He did change it at half-time and it was a little better but there’s a real problem of confidence and lack of urgency aligned with inconsistency with regards to shape and team selection.
‘It’s getting worse, too. Does Edinson Cavani come in? Does Donny van de Beek come in? Where does Pogba play? Do you need McTominay and Fred both in there because they seem to win the ball back? It’s creating more confusion.’
The sizeable setback comes after the embarrassment at home to Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham and a shock loss to Crystal Palace on the opening day of the campaign.
Roy Keane was scathing in his assessment of United’s setback in his post-match comments
United are still yet to win at Old Trafford in the league this season and still sit in the bottom half
Another United great, Roy Keane, was in a typically explosive mood after the defeat, meanwhile, and says it is a ‘long, long way back’ for his former club.
He told Sky Sports: ‘Some of the performances were really poor. Ole must be scratching his head.
‘We kept talking after the Spurs game and whether they turned a corner (after that game). It’s the longest corner ever.’