Paul Ince has told Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs to escape the ghosts of his past if he is to make a success of the Manchester United job.
The outspoken former United player was one of the first people to question the decision to appoint Solskjaer as Jose Mourinho’s replacement, famously claiming ‘someone like Mark Hughes or Steve Bruce could have enjoyed the same initial success’ at Old Trafford.
When asked whether he felt anyone could have taken over United and overseen such an upturn in results, Ince told BT Sport: “I believe they could, yes.”
“I think I could’ve gone in, at the time they needed someone to rest the ship I think I could’ve done that,” Ince added.
“Brucey [Steve Bruce] could’ve done it.
“Mark Hughes [first manager to be sacked by two Premier League clubs in a single calendar year] could’ve done it.
“You could’ve done it [pointing to Chris Sutton].”
Ince was widely condemned for his comments, but since his temporary role was made into a permanent three-year deal, United have struggled badly and have now lost seven of their last nine games in all competitions, leaving them three points outside the top four in the Premier League.
Now the pundit has used their current struggles to re-visit his comments and told Paddy Power: “I’m looking at the club and the future really worries me. They’re a long, long way from many teams. Why did those players perform so well when Ole came in and now they’re not?
“There’s no character, no leadership, no desire, but the manager has to motivate the players too. These are the same players that were playing brilliantly a few weeks ago, so if they’re not feeling motivated it’s down to Ole to sort that.”
Ince insists he was right to predict Solskjaer’s struggles and believes United’s star men, ultimately, won’t want to play for him.
“I called it before he was made manager and got stick for it, but what I said was right,” Ince continued. “I want him to be successful, but I don’t think he’s capable of doing the job. It’s a huge rebuilding job, and will the players want to come to Man United to play under him? I’m not sure – it’s different to the bigger names like [Pep] Guardiola and [Jurgen] Klopp.
“The fact is, they should’ve waited until the end of the season before they gave him the permanent job. There was no rush to appoint him, but everyone got caught up in the euphoria and was thinking with their hearts rather than their heads. If you went to the board now and asked whether they should’ve given him the job – I think we know what they would say. “
Refusing to let it go, Ince added: “Everyone jumped on the Ole bandwagon and now we’re seeing the repercussions. Zinedine Zidane was available at the time and Mauricio Pochettino has always been the right man to take them forward in my eyes.
“Whether I’m wrong or right, I’m entitled to my opinion. Man Utd have lost their identity and everything at the club seems to be in a mess. Yes, they might be profitable because that’s what Ed Woodward cares about, but the club is a shambles. ”
Solskjaer needs help, claims Ince
Ince, however, believes Solskjaer could still turn United around – but only if the right men are brought in alongside him.
“Ole needs help, which may come in the form of a director of football, but it’s hardly a surprise the team is in that state. The club has given Ashley Young a new contract, Phil Jones, and Anthony Martial. It’s not easy to get rid of them now and you’re lumbered with them based off the fact they played well for a few weeks.
“Look at Martial right now, why would you give him a big contract?
“There’s a big rebuild, and the club needs looking at from top to bottom. People say the fish rots from the head down and that’s what we’re seeing at United.”
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