Manchester United have gone backwards under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, says Paul Ince, with a recent wobble down to the club’s approach being “no different to how they played under Jose Mourinho”.
The Portuguese coach was relieved of his duties in December after seeing his side stumble out of the blocks in 2018-19.
Questions were asked of his working relationship with key men and ability to bring the best out of an underperforming squad.
Those critics were initially proved correct as former fan favourite Solskjaer returned to Old Trafford and thrived in an interim managerial role to breathe new life into United’s Premier League and Champions League campaigns.
He was handed a three-year contract after supposedly rebuilding form and confidence, but has suffered FA Cup and European exits over recent weeks while also slipping out of the top four.
Ince admits early progress has stalled, with the former Red Devils midfielder telling Paddy Power of the current situation in Manchester: “It’s a very, very tough job for Ole to take this team forward.
“People are going to have to be patient because United are miles behind their rivals.
“What worries me is, since Ole’s been named permanent manager, they look a different team.
“They’re playing in a different way. When he was the interim manager they were creating chance after chance, and now he has the job permanently they’ve gone backwards!
“I always said the pressure would be on if he got it permanently. I said this would happen months ago.
“This is why I said it at the time – I’ve seen it loads of times that while a manager is interim the mood picks up and everyone feels like they have a chance. But when he becomes the manager, they’re worse than they were before.
“This is what I meant when I said that there was such a cloud over United that all Ole had to do was to come in and change the environment.
“No pressure on the players, just go out and play. But now, they’re in a position where they could get top four, and the stress and pressure is on.
“They’ve lost their way, and how they’re playing now is no different to how they played under Jose Mourinho – allowing teams to come at them.
“I’m not necessarily saying they made a mistake, but when they got Louis van Gaal or Jose Mourinho they didn’t think they’d made a mistake at first.
“Everyone keeps going on about how Ole knows the club, but it’s results and performances that matter.
“He’ll have, hopefully, two years to bridge the gap between United and their rivals and if he doesn’t he knows what will happen.”
United suffered a Champions League quarter-final exit at the hands of a Lionel Messi-inspired Barcelona side and will be looking to get back to winning ways when their newly narrowed focus sees them take in a Premier League trip to Everton on Sunday.