Step up or ship out: Solskjaer

United boss wants players like Martial, Pogba to raise their game as they chase top-4 spot

LONDON • Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has warned his under-achieving Manchester United players there is no "hiding place" for them and that they are playing for their futures at the club.

The United manager, whose side exited the Champions League this week in limp fashion against Barcelona, said he is looking to the likes of forward Anthony Martial and midfielder Paul Pogba to rediscover their best form as they battle to qualify for next season's Champions League.

United face three crucial league games with Everton, Manchester City and Chelsea that will have a huge say on whether they finish in the top four.

But, with big-name stars such as Martial and Pogba desperately struggling for form in a run that has seen United lose five of their last seven league and Cup games, Solskjaer has laid out demands to his players.

"Most of them have really impressed me in their attitude and, of course, there are some who need to get a reality check of where they're at," he said at a press conference ahead of tomorrow's away Premier League match at Everton.

"Every day in training, every game when you're playing, there's no hiding place and everyone can see what your level's at.

ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT

Most of them have really impressed me in their attitude and, of course, there are some who need to get a reality check of where they're at.

OLE GUNNAR SOLSKJAER, Manchester United manager, on some players who are not performing to expectations.

"I've spoken to individuals and they know, and Anthony is one I've spoken to. Anthony's got a massive talent, signed a new contract and he knows we believe in him, so just keep working."

Solskjaer, who has seen his side's fortunes slide since he was handed the job on a permanent basis last month after a sparkling start as interim manager, said tests such as Barcelona are good indicators of whether players are able to play at such a level.

While the Norwegian has stated that some of his players needed a reality check, he has also come to realise the gulf in quality between his team and the top European sides.

He is, however, confident that United will be successful in the summer transfer window in hopes of bridging the gap.

"I've been speaking to the club. We've got scouts scouring the planet for good footballers and we'll sign players we think are the right fit, personality wise, price wise and quality wise," the 46-year-old added.

"But we know that we have to be realistic and have a job to be done. There's no quick fix, it's not like we buy seven players and we're in the right shape. We have to take it step by step and, of course, there will be signings made in the summer."

Tomorrow's trip to Merseyside represents a match sixth-placed United simply cannot lose if they are to keep up with rivals Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea.

Solskjaer has also called on his players to move on from the quarter-final defeat at Barcelona.

"We spoke about it, you have to get on with it quickly and accept we're out of the Champions League, no shame in going out to Barcelona (at the Nou Camp)," he said.

"We want to be here (in the Champions League next season) again and, to be back at these stadiums, we need to be in the top four.

"Players are in a good state mentally and they're strong mentally and, at Goodison, it's going to be a hard game."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 20, 2019, with the headline 'Step up or ship out: Solskjaer'. Print Edition | Subscribe