Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer facing a tricky job says ex-striker Michael Owen
Michael Owen believes Manchester United fans might not get the clear-out they are hoping for this summer.
Owen believes a lack of Champions League football and players on big contracts will limit manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s options.
United won only two of their last 12 games to finish the Premier League season in sixth place, 32 points behind rivals Manchester City.
It was a hugely disappointing end to a campaign that promised much more over the winter when the Red Devils won 14 of Solskjaer’s first 19 games in charge.
Those results, which included eight straight wins after replacing Jose Mourinho on an interim basis before Christmas, helped the Norwegian secure the job permanently in March.
But the season’s last two months witnessed an alarming loss of form.
That has prompted many fans and pundits to predict a massive overhaul at Old Trafford but Owen, who spent three seasons with United towards the end of his career, is not so sure.
“It’s quite hard to get rid of more than three or four players in one window, particularly if you want something in return,” said Owen.
“I thought I had a better handle on United in that I believed they were a better team than they had shown under David Moyes, Louis Van Gaal and Mourinho.
“And we saw that for a dozen games or so when Solskjaer came in but then there was a relapse.
“I still think the players are better than that but the squad obviously needs some surgery and it won’t be easy without Champions League football next season – great players want that.
“So I just don’t think it’s realistic that they’re going to be able to make 10 changes in one summer.”
Midfielder Ander Herrera and captain Antonio Valencia have already announced they are leaving the club, with defenders Matteo Darmian and Marcos Rojo widely expected to follow.
But the bigger headache is what to do with Romelu Lukaku, who cost £75m two summers ago, and top-earner Alexis Sanchez.
But Owen is more optimistic about United’s long-term future. “One thing I’m sure we’ll see next year under Solskjaer is a big push on youth,” the 39-year-old said.