Michael Carrick has been told to solve this Manchester United problem

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Arsenal legend Paul Merson has claimed Manchester United’s struggles this season is partly down to how to accommodate Cristiano Ronaldo in the United starting XI.

The Portugal international returned back to Old Trafford in the summer transfer window. He has scored on a regular basis, with nine goals across all competitions despite the club struggles this season.

“They chased [Jadon] Sancho for 18 months, they get him and he doesn’t play a game,” Merson told Sky Sports.

“People are saying they didn’t need Sancho, but he was perfect for the way they played counter-attacking football. Now they can’t counter-attack, and the plan completely and utterly went out of the window.

“It’s a problem going forward. The fans love Ronaldo, he’s the king. Don’t get me wrong, he’s been one of the best players in the world, but this is the Achilles heel. The bloke is a legend, with the records he’s put up, but that’s not today.

“It’s alright people saying: “He’s done his job, he’s scored goals.” But United need to play as a team to win trophies, not have someone who stands up front and puts the ball in the net 20 times a season. They need a team.

“He’s a legend. I’m not having a go at Ronaldo, and he’ll go down as one the best to ever play football.

“But I got shot down from day one on Transfer Deadline Day. I got slaughtered for saying they were further away from winning the league the moment they signed him than they were before. It’s not Solskjaer’s fault – Solskjaer didn’t buy him!

“I think they need to find a position for him, and maybe even give him a free role. I don’t know if you can keep him in the team, I don’t think they’re dominant enough in midfield, and without Raphael Varane in defence, they’re all over the place.”