It’s difficult to know what to expect of Manchester United next season.
The Red Devils have shown their best as well as something close to their worst during Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s six-month tenure.
They went unbeaten in the first 11 outings following his temporary appointment last December, yet now find themselves scrambling to break a five-game winless streak.
United have won only twice since Solskjaer was signed onto a three-year contract in March, prompting some to accuse the club of rushing a crucial decision.
It would be deemed a significant failure to miss out on Champions League qualification this term, despite the promise of their brief resurgence off the back of Jose Mourinho’s departure.
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Eager to guide his former club back to the forefront of English and European football, Solskjaer has said he won’t be pulling any punches once the summer transfer window opens.
But even if the 46-year-old can shape the United squad to his liking ahead of the new campaign, he insists aiming for the Premier League title would be a step too far.
"It is not realistic," Solskjaer said of challenging next season, per Goal.
"Of course I'm an optimist but I don't think that's realistic, because the two teams [Manchester City and Liverpool] now at the top of the table they are far ahead of the chasing pack.
"We have to make sure that we are getting closer and moving that way up the table and not looking over the shoulders because there are big clubs, good clubs wanting to chase that top six.
"You've got Leicester [City], Everton, Watford, probably Newcastle [United], you've got clubs that want to chase us. We have to make sure that we are ones who chase those ahead of us."
Speaking of the gulf between United and this season’s frontrunners, Solskjaer admits it will take time to match the standard they’ve set.
"I have regular meetings with Ed [Woodward, the executive vice‑chairman], I've seen Joel [Glazer, the co-chairman] and the [other] owners: they are very realistic on where we are and what we want to get to and how long that will take," he said.
"You don't suddenly catch 27 points [now 26 points] in one season, you've got to take it gradually. It's not just this season but the last five or six – we know where we are more or less at and it's not good enough.
"Hopefully we can produce better performances and they [City and Liverpool] can produce worse and we'll get closer."
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