Paul Ince: It’s Europa League or bust for Man United – they should focus on winning it

Paul Pogba has been bang average too.


When I watched the Man United v Arsenal match on Monday – with all the misplaced passes and people losing the ball – it genuinely reminded me of being in the playground at school playing football, not watching two of the biggest teams in England!

There’s an enormous lack of quality in those two teams, they’re both really, really poor.

There’s no comparison between them, Liverpool, Man City and even Tottenham and Chelsea.

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Don’t get me wrong, I can see that Man United are trying to give their academy, and young players a chance.

But, you have to sit back and go – are these lads actually good enough?

Are they going to be long term choices, realistically? It’s brilliant bringing them through, but we need to look at quality of them too.

United are in a situation now where they’ve played seven games and are 12 points behind Liverpool, and seven behind Man City. When you talk about the gap between them and those two, that says it all – it shows you how far they’ve fallen.

We’re not talking 20 games into the season – we’re talking seven.

Ole needs to make the Europa League his target

For me, Ole needs to focus on the Europa League now and make it a priority.

Similar to how Jose Mourinho did, he knows that realistically, it’s United’s best chance of Champions League. Let’s be honest, top four looks like it’s going to be a struggle. They don’t look like they will make it.

While United are falling, teams like Leicester are building and looking to make those spots.

Realistically, all United can hope for nowadays is a top-four place, because they’re so far off winning a league title. It’s a trophy, it’s a Champions League space, and when your team look like they might not be capable of making the top four in the Premier League – why not try and win it?

It’s got to be the main target. Don’t throw away the league of course, but I don’t want to see a weakened team against AZ Alkmaar.

I know it’s not a tough opponent, but both that game and Newcastle this weekend should be games they’re winning no question.

It’ll be very disappointing if they don’t win both. For United, every game is a big game at the moment.

Frank Lampard is far better at Chelsea than Ole is at United

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was saying after the game on Monday night that he thinks the press have been unfair on United, and that actually six or seven of their performances have been good.

I don’t buy that.

Look at Leicester, Astana, there’s literally not been an improvement in performances since the start of the season. In fact, it’s getting worse.

I compare Ole with Frank Lampard – two young managers at huge clubs, that are playing a young team.

You can see an improvement in how Chelsea are playing under Lampard, but I can’t see it with United under Ole. As much as we can use the excuse of United having to play younger players, so are Chelsea, you can’t just blame that for your issues.

All United fans want to see is improvement. No one expects them to win the league this season, but they just want to see them play well.

Marcus Rashford is a concern – Ole must bring in a striker in January

Marcus Rashford is a concern for me, he’s struggling. You do need to remember that he’s played a lot of football for a kid so young, and there is so much pressure on him because United are so reliant on him. They haven’t gone out and bought a centre-forward, so the onus is on Rashford to perform consistently. United simply haven’t got a lethal striker, and Rashford doesn’t look like that to me yet either.

The over-reliance on him is really impacting his performances and he knows that.

As a young player you will lose your confidence, Rashford is clearly a little bit down and not quite right, and that’s where the leaders at the club need to recognise that and pull him up.

He’s a talented player, but it’s not working for him at the moment. Technically he’s very good, but for me he lacks composure. When you look at players like Eric Cantona, Alan Shearer, Ian Wright, the composure they had was incredible.

With Rashford, he gets a little touch excited and he either smashes it or looks unsure. My advice for him would to be to get out on that training ground, afternoon after afternoon, and work on it.

Ole needs to get him working on it too, just take him to one side with a coach and get him working on his composure. It will improve him as a player – and in turn his confidence will come back too.

Paul Pogba’s head is elsewhere, he needs to be a leader to the young side

Paul Pogba looks bang average again, too.

Those young players need his guidance right now, they need nurturing and showing where they need to be on the pitch, and Pogba should take ownership of that.

We should be seeing that leadership.

I’m not sure his head is in it, I believe his mind is on January, but he needs to take control of the team and of the youngsters that are trying to break through.

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What do you think?