Paul Ince has defended his claims that it was “easy” for whoever took over from Jose Mourinho at Manchester United.
The former United midfielder caused a stir when he suggested anyone – while name checking himself and ex-Red Devils teammates Mark Hughes and Steve Bruce – could have done the job Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is currently doing.
Solskjaer’s turnaround: Five key things to know…
- Following their 1-0 win at Leicester City, Manchester United sit higher than sixth in the Premier League for the first time this season.
- United have won nine of their 10 matches in all competitions under Solskjaer with the only misstep being a 2-2 league draw at home against Burnley.
- Across those outings they’ve bagged 25 goals and conceded just seven.
- If the league began since Solskjaer’s appointment, United would sit first and be four points clear of Tottenham Hotspur.
- No one has scored more (20) or conceded less (6) than United in the Premier League following Solskjaer’s arrival.
Appointed in an interim role after the sacking of Mourinho, whom many felt was losing the dressing room, Solskjaer, a club legend who helped United secure their second European Cup in 1999, has gradually steered the 20-time English champions back in contention for a top-four finish.
United, according to many observers, have readdressed their identity crisis under him as Solskjaer restored Paul Pogba back into the first team as well as playing Marcus Rashford in his favoured centre-forward role to great success.
With their fortunes changing, Ince – who represented the club between 1989 and 1995 – told ‘Saturday Morning Savage’ Solskjaer was doing a job any other manager would have been able to do.
This naturally caused a buzz with some who felt Ince was unfairly playing down Solskjaer’s credentials as a coach. However, that wasn’t his goal as he would go on to explain.
“My argument was that it was easy for whoever came in after that to right the ship, and lift the players and the dressing room – and put the whole club back on track,” he told BBC Sport.
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“When I said anyone could have come in and done the same, I did not mean to be disrespectful to Ole. What I meant was any manager – for example myself, Mark Hughes or Steve Bruce – could have recognised the issues at Old Trafford and come in and changed the environment in a positive way.
“There is far more to it than just bringing some of the fun back, but you would start by allowing the players to play with freedom, and in their correct positions too. Ole has done all of that and has obviously made a big difference.
“With his results, he has then taken it on to the next level too – but even that improvement does not mean he is the right man to get the job in the summer.”
A big month awaits Ole
As things stand United are fighting on three fronts. The remaining fixtures this month, following a slender 1-0 win at the King Power Stadium, determines how many going into spring.
United have three Premier League games to look forward to: Fulham (away), Liverpool (home) and Crystal Palace (away).
In between their matches with Fulham and title chasers Liverpool is a small matter of a Champions League round of 16 first-leg encounter at Old Trafford with big spenders Paris Saint-Germain and an FA Cup fifth round meeting with Chelsea, who defeated them in last season’s final.
Host Jake Entwistle is joined by Sam Long and Will Hall for this week’s Squawka Talker to discuss Man City 3-1 Arsenal, the Bundesliga title race, Gonzalo Higuain’s start to life at Chelsea, the best of the rest beyond the ‘Big Six’ and the upcoming El Clasico.