'Really, really poor' Man Utd play school playground football & Europa League's their only hope - Ince

Getty Images
The former Red Devils midfielder has not been impressed with what he's seen from the club and believes a top-four place already looks out of reach

Paul Ince has slated Manchester United's performances in the 2019-20 season and believes that they should make winning the Europa League a priority now.

The Red Devils have struggled to get points on the board in the Premier League and find themselves in 10th place following a 1-1 draw with Arsenal at Old Trafford.

That result meant Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side had made their worst start to a league season since 1989 and they already find themselves 12 points behind leaders Liverpool after seven matches.

And, ahead of Thursday's meeting with AZ in the Europa League, former United midfielder Ince believes that winning that competition is their only realistic hope of securing a place in next season's Champions League.

He told Paddy Power: "For me, Ole needs to focus on the Europa League now and make it a priority. Similar to how Jose Mourinho did, he knows that realistically, it’s United’s best chance of Champions League football.

"Because, let’s be honest, top four looks like it’s going to be a struggle. At the minute, they don’t look like they will make it.

"And while United are falling, teams like Leicester are building and looking to make those spots. And, realistically, all United can hope for nowadays is a top four place, because they’re so far off winning a league title.

"It’s a trophy, it’s a Champions League space, and when your team look like they might not be capable of making the top four in the Premier League – why not try and win it? It’s got to be the main target.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Manchester United 2019

"Don’t throw away the league of course, but I don’t want to see a weakened team against AZ Alkmaar. I know it’s not a tough opponent, but both that game and Newcastle this weekend should be games they’re winning, no question.

"It’ll be very disappointing if they don’t win both. For United, at the moment, every game is a big game."

Ince also highlighted the lack of quality in the draw with the Gunners and likened the quality of the match to something you might see on a school playground.

He added: "When I watched the Man Utd vs Arsenal match on Monday - with all the misplaced passes, people losing the ball, etc - it genuinely reminded me of being in the playground at school playing football, not watching two of the biggest teams in England

"There’s an enormous lack of quality in those two teams, they’re both really, really poor. 

Article continues below

"There’s no comparison between them, Liverpool, Man City and even Tottenham and Chelsea. Don’t get me wrong, I can see that Man Utd are trying to give their academy, and young players a chance.

"But you have to sit back and go – are these lads actually good enough? Are they going to be long term choices, realistically? It’s brilliant bringing them through, but we need to look at quality of them too. 

"United are in a situation now where they’ve played seven games and are 12 points behind Liverpool, and seven behind Man City. When you talk about the gap between them and those two, that says it all - it shows you how far they’ve fallen. We’re not talking 20 games into the season – we’re talking seven."