Man United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must be ruthless in the summer

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“I can’t wait to get a pre-season done.”

Every Manchester United fan can appreciate Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s primary sentiment in the aftermath of a humiliating 4-0 defeat at Goodison Park.

It was appropriate that the visitors donned their pink kit during the mauling rather than their traditional red because much like one colour is a faded version of the other, this team was a pale imitation of itself.

The players were second best in every individual battle, the ones they bothered to compete in at least. Often enough Everton were allowed free rein to latch onto loose balls, coast into space and operate with ample time under no threat whatsoever.

Gylfi Sigurdsson’s long-range effort for the second goal revealed all. Following a United corner, the hosts broke quickly with the Icelandic midfielder running at an increasingly sluggish Nemanja Matic. He was always going to check back onto his right foot, but the Serbian offered no resistance. Of the three players jogging back to the edge of the box, not one made any attempt to close Sigurdsson down.

There’s a rot at United now and it’s evident that it’s festered beyond tactics and philosophy. United ran 8.03km less than Everton on Sunday, an appalling figure especially with possession split evenly.

One of the first things Solskjaer targeted when he took charge was the desire to work harder than any opposition. A 5-1 victory at Cardiff City in his opening match was the first time United had out-run their opponents this season. Unfortunately, that display proved an anomaly rather than a sign of things to come.

Performances steadily deteriorated but an attacking intent coupled with kind fixtures to begin with papered over the cracks. The reality is United have ran less than their opponents in 15 out of 17 games under Solskjaer and with their injury list growing as the fixtures came thick and fast, they were eventually exposed.

More than any defeat, the lack of intensity, desire and work rate is clearly something the United boss cannot stomach, nor should he. Engineering a well-conditioned unit capable of meeting standards worthy of a United team seems to be Solskjaer’s predominant focus moving forward.

It was convenient to hide behind Jose Mourinho and his attitude that quickly turned toxic. Even though he made legitimate points, the Portuguese’s inherently negative tendencies rendered him an easy target. Of course, producing a fit squad was his responsibility and he failed in that aspect but there were always too many players simply unfit to wear the shirt.

That’s another reason why Solskjaer looks longingly towards the summer. Old Trafford is in desperate need of a clear-out but targeting players with the right profile will be key. With the likes of Manchester City and Paris-Saint Germain walking the Financial Fairplay tightrope, United have the resources to be successful in the transfer market with or without Champions League football.

There’s every possibility to land household names like Gareth Bale, Mesut Ozil or James Rodriguez largely unopposed should they choose to but luxury players are not the need of the hour. This team requires hungry, determined and fierce competitors. This team needs fighters.

A top-four spot is slipping away from them and perhaps that’s for the best. Admitting you have a problem is the first step towards recovery and United must accept that they have no business being on the same pitch as Barcelona at the moment.

There is no quick-fix, you’d think after seven years of fumbling around in the dark United would’ve arrived that conclusion. At least Solskjaer seems to grasp the reality of situation.

“You can’t change your whole squad. One step at a time. I am going to be successful here and there are players who won’t be part of that successful team but many of these do have it.”

Summer is coming, and heads must roll. United need to be ruthless with players who clearly don’t meet expectations. If six, eight or even ten players are shown the door, so be it. Whether it’s Romelu Lukaku, Paul Pogba or even David De Gea, no player should be at Old Trafford next season unless he wants to be – that much is essential.

For now though, the priority should be to finish the season strongly. That may even mean getting the youngsters involved and using their enthusiasm to reignite the team’s desire.

The likes of Mason Greenwood, Tahith Chong, Angel Gomes and James Gardner will play a vital part in breathing new life into a stale squad next season. Solskjaer would do well to make a statement with their inclusions now.

There’s a monumental task that awaits the Norwegian this summer and how he tackles it may well define his reign at Old Trafford. Fortunately for United, he seems like an individual determined to focus on necessities the club have ignored for too long – the basics.

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer apologises to Man United fans after Everton humiliation

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Solskjaer apologised to the United fans after the team's heavy defeat.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was moved to apologise to Manchester United fans after a heavy 4-0 defeat at Everton he said was “difficult to describe because it is so bad”.

Solskjaer underlined his ambition to be successful at United and revealed some members of his side could be cast aside in pursuit of re-establishing the club as contenders on domestic and European fronts.

For the time being, this was a sixth defeat in their last eight matches as goals from Richarlison, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Lucas Digne and Theo Walcott handed Everton a convincing and deserved win.

Solskjaer said: “We have got to apologise to the fans because they were absolutely fantastic and that performance is not good enough for a Man United team.

“All the way from me to the players, we know that we let the fans down, we let the club down. That performance is difficult to describe because it is so bad.

“We were beaten on all the things, all the ingredients you need, added to the talent. There is no place you can hide on the pitch.”

Asked whether his players were hurting after a heavy loss, which keeps them sixth in the Premier League, Solskjaer responded: “I don’t know.

“You have got to ask them. I have asked them, you’re not going to get the answer from me.”

However, he has demanded an improvement in their effort levels, harking back to his own playing days under Sir Alex Ferguson,

The Norwegian added: “If you want to play at this club, it has to mean more. I want my team to be the hardest working team in the league, that is what we were under Sir Alex, that’s what we’ve always been.

“No matter how much talent you have got, you run more than anyone. We know our fitness is nowhere near good enough.

“But we have to stick together as a team. You can’t change your whole squad. One step at a time. I am going to be successful here and there are players who won’t be part of that successful team but many of these do have it.”

United’s hopes of a top-four finish have been dented but Solskjaer insists now is not the time to dwell on the setback, with Manchester City and Chelsea their opponents at Old Trafford next week.

Solskjaer said: “City on the other side at Old Trafford on Wednesday, that is the biggest incentive that we can have.

“It sounds too easy to say we have to look forward but we cannot dwell too much on this. In the long term we have to look at this but in the short term we have to look at City and Chelsea.”

Everton bounced back from defeat to Fulham last time out in scintillating style, to the understandable delight of manager Marco Silva.

He said: “It was a very good performance. We were the best team on the pitch since the first minute.

“We never gave them the chance to feel comfortable. We gave a quiet afternoon for our goalkeeper. We worked as a team since the first minute and scored nice goals also.”

The only low moment for Everton came early in the second half when Richarlison was withdrawn, the Brazilian clutching his left side as he limped off to be replaced by Walcott.

Silva added: “Let’s see how he will be. I didn’t speak with our medical staff. Painful in this moment.

“(On Monday), in two days, we will know better. Hope nothing special but when Richarlison has to be out of one match, it is a really difficult position.”

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'If you want to play for Man United, it has to mean more' says Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was non-committal when asked about Manchester United‘s desire after admitting their 4-0 hammering at Everton was “difficult to describe because it is so bad.”

Solskjaer underlined his ambition to be successful at United and revealed some members of his side would be cast adrift in pursuit of re-establishing the club as contenders on domestic and European fronts.

For the time being, this was a sixth defeat in their last eight matches as goals from Richarlison, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Lucas Digne and Theo Walcott handed Everton a convincing and deserved win.

Solskjaer said: “We have got to apologise to the fans because they were absolutely fantastic and that performance is not good enough for a Man United team.

“All the way from me to the players, we know that we let the fans down, we let the club down. That performance is difficult to describe because it is so bad.

“We were beaten on all the things, all the ingredients you need, added to the talent. There is no place you can hide on the pitch.”

Asked whether his players were hurting after a heavy loss, which keeps them sixth in the Premier League, Solskjaer responded: “I don’t know.

“You have got to ask them. I have asked them, you’re not going to get the answer from me.”

However, he has demanded an improvement in their effort levels, harking back to his own playing days under Sir Alex Ferguson.

The Norwegian added: “If you want to play at this club, it has to mean more. I want my team to be the hardest working team in the league, that is what we were under Sir Alex, that’s what we’ve always been.

“No matter how much talent you have got, you run more than anyone. We know our fitness is nowhere near good enough.

“But we have to stick together as a team. You can’t change your whole squad. One step at a time. I am going to be successful here and there are players who won’t be part of that successful team but many of these do have it.”

United’s hopes of a top-four finish have been dented but Solskjaer insists now is not the time to dwell on the setback, with Manchester City and Chelsea their opponents at Old Trafford next week.

Solskjaer said: “City on the other side at Old Trafford on Wednesday, that is the biggest incentive that we can have.

“It sounds too easy to say we have to look forward but we cannot dwell too much on this. In the long term we have to look at this but in the short term we have to look at City and Chelsea.”

Everton bounced back from defeat to Fulham last time out in scintillating style, to the understandable delight of manager Marco Silva.

He said: “It was a very good performance. We were the best team on the pitch since the first minute.

“We never gave them the chance to feel comfortable. We gave a quiet afternoon for our goalkeeper. We worked as a team since the first minute and scored nice goals also.”

The only low moment for Everton came early in the second half when Richarlison was withdrawn, the Brazilian clutching his left side as he limped off to be replaced by Walcott.

Silva added: “Let’s see how he will be. I didn’t speak with our medical staff. Painful in this moment.

“Tomorrow, in two days, we will know better. Hope nothing special but when Richarlison has to be out of one match, it is a really difficult position.”

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