Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says this summer will be “hard” at Manchester United and he will be “ruthless” when it comes to offloading unwanted squad players.
Ander Herrera is planning to leave on a free transfer and club captain Antonio Valencia will depart in the summer, while there remains questions about Juan Mata’s future and the number of players United will bring in to close the gap.
There’s no doubt that Old Trafford, which hosts United v West Ham this evening, will be a busy place this summer.
“I’m under no illusions that this is not going to be plain sailing,” Solskjaer said when asked if the recent run of four defeats in five underlined the scale of the task.
“It’s going to be hard. It’s going to be only survival of the fittest or survival of the best. That’s how ruthless we have to be in the end.
“We need players here who are going to be able to take us forward.
“That means the culture in the dressing room, the inner justice, what we do every single day here to make us challenging (for the title) again because Liverpool and (Manchester) City, they’re two teams that are too far head at the moment from what we like.
“We played against a Barcelona team, which is one of the teams that sets the standard in European football, and we’re under no other illusion than it’s going to be hard work and there’s going be some tough decisions made by me, Mick (Phelan) and the club.”
There remains work to be done when it comes to nailing down assistant manager Phelan.
Brought in on a temporary basis alongside Solskjaer, Sir Alex Ferguson’s former right-hand man has yet to sign a permanent deal.
Solskjaer believes his future is closer to being resolved and wants Phelan to stay in his current role rather than becoming technical director, having been linked with a post that looks similar to his role with bottom-placed A-League side Central Coast Mariners.
“I want to work with Mick Phelan and I want him to do the job he’s doing,” the Norwegian said. “You know, sometimes in this country, we’re more concerned about what the job title is rather than what I do and what people do.
“What Mick does is more than just being an assistant manager, even if he is an assistant manager. He’s just a fantastic guy to have around.”