"The honeymoon period is definitely over" - Paul Ince predicts challenging times for Solskjaer
"He’s got a lot of work to do and he knows that"
The "honeymoon period" is over for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and there will be some challenging times ahead. That's the view of Paul Ince, the former Manchester United midfielder who has not bought into the goodwill generated at Old Trafford by Solskjaer's appointment as manager.
Ince has frequently said that he or several other former United players, such as Mark Hughes or Steve Bruce, could have achieved the same results as the Norwegian.
Following a run of one win in four games for his former club, Ince has predicted some tricky times for United and he doesn't think Paul Pogba will still be at Old Trafford this time next year.
"The honeymoon period with Ole is definitely over," Ince told Paddy Power.
"He said when he got the job that now it was time to work. There’s always more pressure on you when you are given the job permanently, than when you’re a caretaker manager, and he knows that he will be getting analysed and picked apart every time they lose a game.
"The pressure will mount, of course it will. He’s got a lot of work to do and he knows that, and not getting into the top four will cause more scrutiny on him, and that result has made that look like a tough ask. Every team has a dip in form, of course, but now could be the worst possible time to have one.
"United face Barcelona next, and then West Ham in the league and it’s crucial that they bounce back from this. That’s what the good Man United teams do, they bounce back."
Following the 2-1 defeat away to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Tuesday night, Solskjaer's team are in sixth place and face a fight to finish in the top four. Ince said that United "have to be in the Champions League" next season and called on the team to "finish the job off".
The former Inter Milan midfielder also predicted that Pogba would leave the club in the summer.
"There are players which need to move on if Ole wants to re-build. But also, there may well be a few players who seem to want to move on themselves regardless," Ince said.
"The main culprit of that, I believe, is Paul Pogba. Ole needs to convince him that he’s going to build the team around him going forwards if he wants him to stay.
"Honestly, I don’t think Pogba will be at Old Trafford next season. Ole’s come in, changed the way he feels about the game since Jose Mourinho left and because his form has improved, the big boys have come calling again.
"It’s always hard when Real Madrid come knocking, but I’m not sure Pogba’s ever settled at United since he came back, and a move could be on the cards.
"It’s Ole’s job to do some convincing now, convince players like Pogba and David de Gea that they’re better off at Old Trafford."
Finally, Ince said that Alexis Sanchez and Fred should be sold at the end of the season, regardless of who else leaves the clubs or joins.