Man Utd risk 'writing off' two seasons by naming caretaker boss - Darren Fletcher

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Jose Mourinho: How Manchester United manager's season collapsed

Manchester United risk "writing off" the next two seasons by replacing Jose Mourinho with a caretaker manager, says former midfielder Darren Fletcher.

United named former striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as interim boss on Wednesday, with Mike Phelan as first-team coach.

Mourinho was sacked on Tuesday after two and a half years as manager.

"Manchester United should never be in this position," Fletcher - speaking before Solskjaer's appointment was confirmed - told BBC Radio 5 live.

"They're almost writing off this season and next season because if they appoint a new manager in the summer he's not going to have much time to look for new players."

Stoke midfielder Fletcher, who won five Premier League titles in 12 years at United, said there had been "mismanagement from the top level" at Old Trafford since legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson left in 2013.

"There is a real concern that you could have two seasons of rebuilding again," he added.

United are sixth in the Premier League, 19 points behind leaders Liverpool, with Mourinho sacked because of the team's style, results and a poor record of developing young players.

The official announcement that Solskjaer is taking over from Mourinho came 12 hours after a page appeared on the club website referring to their former striker as "our interim manager". It was later deleted.

Solskjaer, 45, scored 126 goals for United in 11 seasons with the club under Ferguson, winning six Premier League titles and two FA Cups and scoring the winner in the 1999 Champions League final.

'Solskjaer is a smiling assassin'

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Watch: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer score for Man Utd against Liverpool

Fletcher said he wanted an interim boss to "give the players freedom but also put demands on them to work harder because they are not working hard enough".

He added former team-mate Solskjaer is a "smiling assassin" as he is a "lovely fella" but can deliver some "cutting words" in the dressing room.

"He'd let people know when they weren't doing things that were expected of them and he's been at the club with a lot of big characters," said Fletcher.

But ex-United and England midfielder Paul Ince, who thought the club should look at other former players Steve Bruce and Mark Hughes, pointed out Solskjaer "struggled" at Cardiff City in 2014.

The Norwegian left after eight months in charge during which the Bluebirds were relegated from the Premier League and had a poor start to the season in the Championship.

"Solskjaer might be good for the fans but in Bruce and Hughes there are two experienced former players who know the club and are out of work."

Former Leicester City and Wales midfielder Robbie Savage, who was a youth player at United, said it was a "shambles" that the club would take Solskjaer from Norwegian side Molde.

He said: "Is this where United are really at? Solskjaer is a legend and the fans still sing his name, but, really, the biggest club in the world appointing an interim boss who manages Molde?"

Who will be next permanent boss?

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Zidane, Simeone, Pochettino? Who could replace Jose Mourinho?

Both Ince and Fletcher said Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino is United's ideal long-term replacement for Mourinho.

Pochettino said he remains "focused" on his work at Spurs after being asked about the vacant manager's role at Old Trafford.

"He ticks all the boxes for United as he has proven at Southampton and Spurs he can develop young players; he's got an attacking style and he's had confrontations with players but dealt with it fantastically," said Fletcher.

He added the Argentine would have the chance to "build a legacy, win trophies and establish himself as one of the best managers in the world" at United.

"Spurs aren't going to win the Premier League - they are moving to a new stadium and are going to lose players to pay for it but United have the backing and resources to have a plan that incorporates winning the league," he said.

"If Pochettino has ambitions of winning things then if United come calling, he'd be more than interested."

Ince said Pochettino may wait for his "dream move" of managing Real Madrid but could be lured to United.

"As well as Spurs have done, they have not brought a lot of players in and eventually he will get tired of not getting the players he wants and not winning trophies," he added.

No improvement since Ferguson?

Fletcher said the overall standard of United's squad has "not improved" since Ferguson left after the last of his 13 Premier League titles in 2013 because successors David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Mourinho were allowed to make "here-and-now" signings.

"When Ferguson left, people said that was the worst squad ever to win the league, I don't buy that, but we did need three big hitters to come in," he said.

"That was a perfect opportunity but Moyes didn't do it - he only signed Marouane Fellaini but we needed another central defender, we needed a play-making midfielder and we could've done with a striker - that was the beginning of these problems.

"The squad has not improved since Ferguson and it's had £700m spent on it, which is a massive concern."

The Scot added that while chief executive Ed Woodward had "given the managers backing with money", that has "not necessarily been the best thing for the long-term future" of the club and United should install a structure that allows them to sign players who better fit the club's mould.

Ince questioned whether some of the current squad have the "mental toughness" to play for United, while Savage added the players "have to look at themselves" after being "outrun by every other Premier League side this season".

Fletcher said £89m record signing Paul Pogba is "a Manchester United player" but added the France midfielder "has not conducted himself well recently and he needs a kick up the backside".

He added: "It's another concern because everyone talked about who is going to go - Pogba or Mourinho? Someone needs to get hold of Pogba and tell him this wasn't a battle between him and Mourinho and he's won. A new manager has to come in and demand more of Pogba to lead the team forward."

What next for Mourinho?

Mourinho's sacking by United came almost three years to the day since he was dismissed by Chelsea, ending his second spell at Stamford Bridge.

Ince said he doubts Mourinho "will ever manage again" in the Premier League and "needs to take a break" before his next role.

"What he endured in the last two and a half years will have taken it out of him," he said.

Fletcher said he would like to see the "old Mourinho" return and added the Portuguese should take "at least a year" out.

"He's been fighting with his players, the relationships haven't been there like at Porto, his first spell at Chelsea and Inter Milan," he said.

"There he was tight with his players, they looked like they loved each other, there was a mutual respect but things have gone sour at Real Madrid, back at Chelsea and now at United.

"I'm not saying that's necessarily his fault - maybe it's to do with the modern player - but I'd love to see Mourinho have a good break, come back and try to evolve a bit to bring back the old Mourinho that everyone loved."

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