Paul Ince claims that ‘anyone could have gone in’ and turned Manchester United’s fortunes around as he dismisses the immediate impact of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
United were at one of their lowest ebbs in recent years when Jose Mourinho was sacked in December and since taking over, Solskjaer has found a winning formula and has a 100 per cent start from his opening six games.
A statement win over Tottenham on Sunday answered some critics that believed it was an easy job to get United playing but for Ince, he still feels Mauricio Pochettino, the losing manager at Wembley, is the man to take United forward from the summer.
Anyone could have had the impact Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has had at Man United, says Paul Ince
The former United midfielder has backed Mauricio Pochettino to get the job permanently
‘We can’t get too sucked in with what Ole’s done,’ Ince told Paddy Power News.
‘Let’s be honest, it couldn’t get any worse at Manchester United before Jose Mourinho left. There was a dark cloud over the entire club, the players, the fans and the staff. It was impacting performances on the pitch.
‘Ole’s come in, a friendly face at the club with a calming influence and it seems as though the players have upped their effort as a result. The shackles are off, but that doesn’t mean that Ole is the right man for the job.
‘I could have gone in and done the same thing, so could Steve Bruce. Anyone could have gone in and done what he has done, it wasn’t a hard thing to do to give those players freedom and improve the mood.’
Players look revitalised under Solskjaer but Ince feels he could have had a similar impact
Pochettino is widely seen as the club’s top choice to take the job on a permanent basis in the summer if they decide to overlook Solskjaer, who is on loan from Molde right now.
The Tottenham boss has been coy on whether he is interested in the Old Trafford hotseat.
But for Ince, the Argentine boss is the one who can bridge the gap to Manchester City and Liverpool.
‘So, for the next few years what the club need to do is bring in a manager that can seriously get United competing with City and Liverpool. And of the options available, Pochettino is the man to do that,’ Ince continued.
‘The club shouldn’t be making rash decisions, picking a manager just because he’s had six wins on the bounce, all of which came against below average sides bar one. You’d like to think that even under Mourinho they’d have won those games.
‘People say the acid test was against Tottenham, but United won that by default of Tottenham having an off-game in terms of scoring and De Gea being so fantastic. They didn’t outclass Spurs at all.
Ince feels that Pochettino is the man who can bridge the gap and get United challenging
‘It’s easy to default to the Ole bandwagon, but the club need to be careful. I’d like to think that the Glazers and Ed Woodward will be looking at who is the right man for the next few years, rather than the right man right now. If they decide on Ole, then good luck to them.
‘It’s an enormous job, we’ve seen the pressure it puts on even the top managers. That’s not to say that if Ole carries on with this momentum, especially when they face the likes of Arsenal, PSG and Liverpool, that it won’t change their minds. I don’t want to discredit how he has brought back hope and presence back to the team, but it doesn’t mean he should get the job permanently.
‘No disrespect to him, because he’s come in as caretaker and he’s done a great job so far, but he struggled at Cardiff and Molde are nowhere near United’s level. So, to ask him to come in and compete with the best teams in the world might be a tough ask for him.
‘If he gets the club into the top four, and into the final of the Champions League, then that would be the time when the board should be swayed. But we need to be careful not to get carried away – the decision shouldn’t be made just yet.’
Tottenham are being made to wait to move into their new stadium but there is a growing sense that they are on the verge of tangible success if they can keep hold of Pochettino.
Should Solskjaer get United in the top four, the club’s board could be swayed, feels Ince
He has been one of the most successful managers for bringing through youth products into the first team in recent seasons with Harry Kane and Dele Alli becoming superstars under his watch. For Ince, if he is available, United must do everything they can to get him.
He said: ‘Do I think he’d want to come to United? Of course I do. Tottenham might be building a shiny new stadium, but I’m not sure how long Harry Kane or Dele Alli will last there. And while Daniel Levy won’t let him buy new players, Pochettino must feel like he’s p***ing into the wind at Spurs.
‘He knows if he goes to Old Trafford, not only can he build a team, but he can make decision about who he wants to bring in and get the cash to do so. It’s a credit to him how he gets his side playing with such a small budget already.
‘I can’t see him being at Tottenham for 10 years in the same pattern he’s in now. Man United are an ambitious club – if they come calling, it’ll be hard for him to turn it down.’