Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has warned his under-achieving Manchester United players there is no “hiding place” for them and 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 Anthony Martial and 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, the United manager has laid out demands to his players.
“I’ve learnt a lot about them over the months I’ve been here now and you get to know them,” said Solskjaer.
“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.
“Every day in training, every game when you’re playing there’s no hiding place and everyone can see what your level’s at we’re working with fantastic staff to create this culture.”
– ‘Have to be realistic’ –
Solskjaer, who has seen his side’s fortunes slide since he was handed the job on a permanent basis 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.
“It is performances on the pitch that will determine where they’re at in their careers, short term and long term, every single day,” said Solskjaer.
“That’s what we spoke about at Barca as well, when you’re at big stadiums, you’ve got to step up, make good decisions and I’m looking forward to this period.”
Martial, in particular, has been a frustration for the United manager, having scored just three goals in 2019 despite signing a lucrative new five-year contract in January.
Under Solskjaer’s predecessor Jose Mourinho, the young Frenchman had seemed destined to leave Old Trafford only to show an improvement in attitude and form in the early games of the Norwegian’s reign.
“I’ve spoken to individuals and they know, and Anthony is one I’ve spoken to, what we expect from them,” said Solskjaer.
“Anthony’s got a massive talent, signed a new contract and he knows we believe in him, so just keep working.
“I think anyone that plays for Man United has to deliver, to stay in the squad and stay in the team and Anthony is no different to Rashy (Rashford) or Rom (Lukaku) or Alexis (Sanchez) or the other forwards we have to choose from.”
Despite some average business performed by his club in recent transfer windows, Solskjaer is confident they will be more successful in that area this summer.
“I’ve been speaking to the club, we know that we have to be realistic and have a job to be done there’s no quick fix,” he said.
“It’s not like buy seven players and we’re in the right shape.”