Manchester United icon Paul Scholes believes his former club are already out of the Premier League title race this season. United came into the campaign hoping to bridge the gap to Liverpool and Manchester City.
But the Red Devils have just seven points from six games and sit 15th, albeit winning their game in hand would move them two points behind seventh-placed Chelsea and Arsenal, in ninth.
A tricky start to the season has seen pressure rise on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with United reportedly having made contact with Mauricio Pochettino about the prospect of taking over at Old Trafford.
Even if they do win their win their extra game, United will trail league leaders Liverpool by six points.
City have also played six matches but have four more than their Manchester rivals, with Pep Guardiola’s side looking to reclaim their crown after Liverpool won the league last term.
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Yet both Liverpool and City have been on the end of heavy defeats to Aston Villa and Leicester respectively at the start of this season.
They have both shaken off to put together a run of victories but Scholes feels that United’s sluggish start means they are already too far behind.
“If they were going to make any challenge on this season they needed to start it well,” Scholes told BT Sport after his old team’s shock Champions League loss to Istanbul Basaksehir.
“They haven’t done that, clearly. It feels like we’re going to see a carbon copy of last season.
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“A really poor start to the season, I think at some point, with the players they’ve got, they will find their form. There’s no doubt about that. They’ve got too much quality.
“They probably will go on a big run. Probably finish top four. Probably get to a semi-final and lose.
“It’s just a start to the season in a year when Liverpool, City haven’t started the best. It was a real chance for them.
“Not that I’m saying they would go on to win the league – but a real opportunity to be up there, challenging. But, again, they are going to pay for a really bad start to the season.”
Ex-United striker Robin van Persie, also on BT Sport, insists Ed Woodward and co ought to keep the faith with Solskjaer for now despite speculation over his future.
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“I’m not a big fan of sacking coaches, I never liked that,” the Dutchman declared.
“In most cases, that’s not the solution to suddenly finding the same team playing great football again.
“I’ve said it many times before about Solskjaer, give him time to really implement their ideas and in the end, I’m sitting here to give my opinion, not to judge his way of coaching or whatever.
“I hope they give him time, what’s in it for me for him to lose his job? I don’t want anyone to lose their job.”
Asked about his future post-match in Istanbul, the Norwegian coach laughed off the rising pressure surrounding his position at the helm.
“You know, I decline to comment on such a thing,” Solskjaer laughed and said.
“Of course it’s early on and, you know, opinions are out there all the time. You’ve got to stay strong. I’m employed by the club to do a job and I do that to the best of my ability with our staff.”
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