Manchester United have been warned that failing to qualify for the Champions League would be “simply not good enough”, with Paul Ince claiming top transfer targets could slip the net as a result.
The Red Devils surged back into contention for a top-four finish following Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s appointment as successor to Jose Mourinho on an interim basis.
His early efforts led to him being handed a three-year contract, but he has also endured the first wobble of his reign.
United have suffered three defeats in their last four across all competitions and now sit sixth in the Premier League table.
They are just two points off the Champions League places, and three behind Tottenham in third, but with so many sides in the mix there is a fear that missing out could lead to Solskjaer being unable to bring in the necessary talent during the summer recruitment window.
Former Red Devils midfielder Ince has told Paddy Power: “They need to be picking up results, especially when they’ve still got the likes of Man City to play if they want to make those Champions League spots.
“Ultimately, Man United have to be in the Champions League. It’s simply not good enough if they’re not.
“Don’t get me wrong, Ole has done a fantastic job in getting them to this point, but they need to finish the job off.
“They cannot afford to be without European football next year. In fact, United should never not be in that competition.
“No disrespect, but they should be attracting the biggest players and the biggest players don’t want to play in the Europa League.
“The team should be doing everything they can do make top four, and the Wolves result seems particularly poor because of that.”
United suffered a 2-1 defeat away at Wolves in their most recent outing – the second time they have fallen to that scoreline at Molineux in a matter of weeks.
They had returned to action after the international break with an unconvincing 2-1 win over Watford, with Solskjaer having work to do in order to get his side back on track.
Ince added: “The honeymoon period with Ole is definitely over. 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 – that result [against Wolves] 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.”