Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Manchester United have to prove they can be consistent if they are to compete with Liverpool and Manchester City for the Premier League title next season.

Ahead of a derby clash with rivals City at Old Trafford on Wednesday, United are 24 points behind leaders Liverpool, although they have played one match fewer.

Solskjaer's side face a battle for Champions League qualification with United, who have lost six of their past eight games in all competitions, three points behind Chelsea in the race for a top-four finish.

United have not won the Premier League since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 and Solskjaer is uncertain over how competitive the Red Devils can be in 2019-20.

"I don't think we've got the consistency to do that," Solskjaer told reporters when asked if United can fight City and Liverpool for the title next season.

"Over the last 18 games, we're not far away from them but it's doing it over the course of a season. We've done it for half a season now. Let's see. You can never say never.

"You cannot expect things to happen overnight and we know that. It will happen gradually and we have to be realistic enough as a club that we have to take it step by step. 

"That's not changing 10 players now and bringing 10 players in. It's slowly, slowly but surely. It has to be the right quality, right personality, the right standards to get us back to where we want to be."

United fans have been left to weigh up whether they would rather see neighbours City or equally fierce rivals Liverpool be crowned champions.

"It's not about taking something away from others," Solskjaer added. "We have to want to overtake them, and not just because it's City and Liverpool.

"For a supporter, as I am, and as a manager now as well, we know [them well] because they are so close in the vicinity. 

"We want to be the best, we have been the best and it's not nice seeing those two at the top."

Pep Guardiola has strongly denied a claim from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer that his Manchester City side deliberately set out to commit fouls.

Former Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho previously complained about what he described as "tactical fouls" from Guardiola's City.

And Mourinho's successor Ole Gunnar Solskjaer followed suit in his pre-match news conference, claiming "there will be fouls" in Wednesday's Premier League clash at Old Trafford.

Victory in the derby would put City in pole position in the title race, moving them back above Liverpool by a point with both sides having three games to play.

And Guardiola bristled at Solskjaer's suggestion City cynically bringing counter-attacks to an end is one of his tactical instructions.

"Receive a lot of fouls? So we are going to make fouls to them? Did he say that?" Guardiola said to reporters. "With 75 per cent the average, or 65 or 70 per cent of the ball, how you do that? I don't have any comments about that.

"I never prepare a game in my 10 seasons as a manager thinking about this kind of thing. Never. And my players can talk better than me about that.

"I'm concerned many, many other things about the game to have to play to beat them than this kind of thing.

"So I don't know. Tomorrow in the press conference after the game you can ask him again about that. So I don't know."

Guardiola indicated he feels Solskjaer's words were an attempt to influence the match referee Andre Marriner.

"I don't like it. I don't like it," the City manager said when asked again about the Norwegian's comments. "My team, our team is not built to think and create for that, not at all. I know exactly what I say to my players from the day one, from the last day.

"So we want to play, want to try to attack, we have to be honest and of course there is contact, of course there are fouls, but when it happens and you arrive late and yellow [card] - that's why there are referees to make a yellow card or a red card, or whatever they decide.

"We want to do our game, I want to do our game. Sometimes it's not possible because the others play too, the people sometimes [find it] difficult to understand that, but the other teams play too. But never, never... I prepare the game to do my, our own game, that is what I want."

Guardiola does not expect Solskjaer's comments to have an impact on the referee, though.

"No I don't think so," he added. "We shouldn't do that.

"Really I don't know. I will be suspended [if we talk about referees]. I will be in trouble."

Pep Guardiola sympathises with Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for the difficult period he is going through and insists he supports the Norwegian ahead of their first derby meeting.

Solskjaer was brought in initially as an interim replacement for Jose Mourinho in December and enjoyed a stunning impact as they lost just one of his first 17 matches at the helm and reached the Champions League quarter-finals against the odds.

Back-to-back defeats to Arsenal and Wolves did not put United off from hiring him full-time at the end of March, but a subsequent run of two wins and four defeats has prompted many to question the club's decision to hand Solskjaer a contract through to 2022.

Their most recent defeat was undoubtedly the nadir, as United were humiliated 4-0 away to Everton on Sunday, severely denting their top-four hopes.

Up next on Wednesday is the derby against champions Manchester City in a game which could have major consequences in the title race, and Guardiola showed empathy towards his opposite number.

When asked in his pre-match news conference if he felt it was right for Solskjaer to be questioned, Guardiola said: "I don't know. We [managers] don't have time.

"I understand his position perfectly. We are alone, I am alone and that's why I understand completely his position.

"It happened to me, it happened to all the managers around the world. We can sustain it if we win, if we don't we are in danger.

"That is the reality, we have to accept it. It is what it is. I understand perfectly and I am with him, I support him, honestly."

At the time of Solskjaer's interim appointment and subsequent full-time hiring, much was made of his close connection to the club, having spent the majority of his playing career at Old Trafford as well as his early coaching days.

Guardiola – who managed Barcelona after playing for them – agrees that such a background can be beneficial.

"To know the club is better," he said. "I know this club now more in my third season than I did in my first season.

"He came back here after being a formidable player. He knows everything [about the club], so it's an advantage, of course."

Despite United's recent woes, Guardiola is expecting them to be at their very best in the derby, and while he believes pride to be at stake for Solskjaer's men, he downplayed the influence of their Everton loss on the game.

Asked if United will be eager for a response, Guardiola said: "A little bit more, maybe, but if they won [against Everton] the confidence would be a little bit more, and it is a derby.

"All the derbies here or in Germany or Spain are always special games and the players do their best for the fans and the team.

"I expect the best United, for sure. They have pride, their pride to do their best. We are going to do what we do and try to win the game."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is confident he is the right man to get the best out of Manchester United's players, despite a poor run since his appointment as permanent manager.

United slumped to their heaviest defeat of the season on Sunday, losing 4-0 at Everton, and must now try to bounce back when they face Manchester City in a derby clash on Wednesday that could have huge ramifications for the Premier League title race.

Having enjoyed a stellar three months at Old Trafford following his appointment as interim manager in December, Solskjaer was given the job in a permanent capacity on March 28, but United have lost four of the six games since then in all competitions.

The capitulation at Goodison Park followed a Champions League exit at the hands of Barcelona, with Solskjaer apologising to United's travelling support on behalf of his players.

But the former Molde boss believes that he is the right choice to lead United forward, even if the squad will need altering in the close season.

"I would like to think so," Solskjaer told a news conference when asked if he could improve United's players. 

"I like all these boys, I love them, but I've got to manage for the club and I'm managing the club and the players and I've got to put all my effort into making sure we do what is right for the club.

"Of course, you learn about players and now is not the time to talk about making wholesale changes in the squad that's been doing so great, City and Liverpool have taken more points than us in the last 18 games and that's it.

"We really gave it a go, and you can see loads of United standards, the DNA in these players. 

"You have to get players in and some players will go out. There's always a crisis at United whenever you lose a game or two, but the boys have done fantastic, we don't enjoy losing games, we've lost three out of the last five league games, that's a bit too many but that's football.

"You see Chelsea-Burnley, Arsenal-Palace but the way we lost at Everton that was the lowest we have been and was the worst performance."

Solskjaer was scathing of his side on Sunday, but has not lost belief in his squad, accepting that he is just as responsible for United's form as his players are.

"We focus on Wednesday and I'm sure we'll get a response," Solskjaer added.

"You don't punish them as in run up to the mountains and back. We believe in them, these players know they let themselves down as individual, as a team, me as well.

"I'm in charge and I'm the one giving instructions how we're going to play and it's my duty to get them performing better than that and I'm sure we'll get a response."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has lit the blue touch paper ahead of Wednesday's derby by saying Manchester City "snap at your ankles and kick you".

Pep Guardiola's title-chasing City side visit Manchester United knowing three points would take them back above Liverpool to the top of the Premier League table and put them in pole position to retain the title with three games to go.

Yet United are also desperate for the win having slipped to sixth in the table following a rotten run of results since their improbable Champions League victory over Paris Saint-Germain at the start of March.

And Solskjaer, whose team have lost six of their past eight games in all competitions, has followed the lead of his predecessor Jose Mourinho by indulging in some mind games prior to the City clash.

"We've got to be ready for the press, for their pressing because they've got quality on the ball," Solskjaer told reporters at a news conference.

"We've got to defend well. When we win it, we've got to be ready for their aggression, they will snap at your ankles and heels and kick you.

"They are not going to allow us easy counter attacking. There will be fouls, absolutely no doubt about it, because when you watch them games they commit so many players forward.

"They will be stopping us as high as they can, I think."

The desire of United's players was questioned after Sunday's 4-0 thrashing at Everton.

Solskjaer revealed that his squad held talks following that drubbing and insists the visit of City is the ideal chance for them to show a response at Old Trafford.

"That's the best game we could ask for now, with players hurt, as they were definitely were," he added.

"We had a meeting after the [Everton] game and you can see all the players are definitely, definitely disappointed, but really, really hurt by that performance.

"The City game is the perfect one, there's no hiding place on the pitch.

"Our fans will back you whatever result there will be as long as you give that effort. Against a City side that's been very, very good, we have got to turn up."

Paul Pogba branded Manchester United's performance in the embarrassing 4-0 defeat to Everton on Sunday "disrespectful".

United were crushed by Everton at Goodison Park, suffering a fifth consecutive away defeat in all competitions, their worst such run since March 1981.

On top of that, it was Everton's best Premier League win over United, who looked hapless and well below their best throughout.

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gave an honest assessment after the game, accepting he did not know if the players cared enough about playing for the club and suggesting some do not have a future at Old Trafford.

Pogba was one of the players to attract criticism after a lacklustre midfield display, though he has since acknowledged the overall performance from United was intolerable.

When asked by Sky Sports what went wrong, Pogba said: "I wish I knew. It was the details, the desire, we spoke about courage and everything we had when the manager came.

"What we had there, it was just like another team and this is not good. It is not good for Man United, for the story of the club or for the fans.

"It is not good at all what we did. Losing a game is something really bad that we don't want to do when we are in the race for the top four - and losing 4-0 as well.

"Not to be disrespectful, and I am not disrespectful to Everton, but the way we played and the performance of myself, of the team, of everyone is disrespectful. We didn't respect ourselves, the club or the fans.

"Everything went wrong, but the most important thing is the mentality that we put on the pitch - that has to change. Now it is in the past and we cannot stay on the past because it is a headache. You have to think about the next game and do better.

"We let the manager speak [after the game], the staff spoke and they spoke the truth. They said what happened in the game and it is not respectful for ourselves.

"What we did on the pitch is not respectful for the team-mates, for the staff, for the fans, for the kitman, for everyone. For their work, they put their life on us, the team and this club.

"What we showed on the pitch, we did not give them the joy back and that's why we are angry with ourselves. We want to do better for sure and we have to. The reaction has to be there.

"I want to say [to supporters], and I know it may not be enough, but the fans want a reaction from the players and the only way to apologise to them is to give everything on the pitch, do our best, create chances, score goals, defend, work for the team and we can even lose games, but with a good performance and pride on the pitch.

"That's how we should apologise to the fans, just to give everything for us, for the club, for the shirt, for the team-mates and for ourselves as well because it is us on the pitch and we cannot perform like we did.

"When you wear this shirt at this club it is, first of all, because you deserve it, but when you deserve it, you have to work and respect the culture, the history of this club and give everything on the pitch.

"I don't want to be harsh with my words, but we don't want to look like we did [on Sunday] because the body language was not good enough for this shirt."

United return to action on Wednesday in the Manchester derby against bitter rivals Manchester City, who will expect to wrap up the Premier League title if they leave Old Trafford with a victory.

David de Gea has apologised for Manchester United's performance in the 4-0 defeat to Everton.

De Gea started as captain at Goodison Park, but United were 2-0 down by half-time thanks to efforts from Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson, with questions raised over the Spaniard's reactions for Everton's second goal.

Substitute Ashley Young took the armband for the second half, though there was no change in the flow of the match with Lucas Digne and Theo Walcott on target as Everton went on to claim their biggest Premier League win over United.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer went over to apologise to United's travelling support after the final whistle, and De Gea – who was at fault for Lionel Messi's second goal in Barcelona's 3-0 win over United in midweek – offered no excuses for the Red Devils' display.

"Difficult to put what I am feeling today into words," De Gea tweeted.

"As captain I want to say that the performance of the team today, on top of the result, was not up to the standard expected when you pull on this shirt.

"We know that we have to improve but words mean little: we have to give everything for this club. Thank you for your unconditional support."

Gary Neville branded Manchester United's players an embarrassment after Everton's 4-0 demolition of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side at Goodison Park.

United never looked up to scratch in Sunday's Premier League encounter, with Everton taking a 2-0 lead into half-time thanks to Richarlison's acrobatic effort and a wicked strike from Gylfi Sigurdsson.

Lucas Digne's effort and a cute Theo Walcott finish piled further misery on United – who face Manchester City and Chelsea in their next two outings – after the interval, as the Red Devils' top-four hopes took a blow.

A raging Neville insisted the blame sits firmly with the players and not Solskjaer, who went over to apologise to United's travelling support after the final whistle.

"I'm furious, the fact that he's had to go and apologise for the players," Neville said on Sky Sports.

"Jose Mourinho, the fans stuck with him, but they wanted him out in the end. They're not going to turn on Ole. Those players now, their heads are on the line.

"I watched Manchester City on Saturday, who United are trying to match. Bernardo Silva, David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne; better players that work twice as hard.

"Then you watch Liverpool who are their biggest rivals, they die for every single inch on the pitch. United, it's embarrassing watching some of those players, I'm absolutely furious.

"I watch United players walking, sauntering around, jogging back. You do not drop below the standard and work ethic that is expected at that club. They're falling below it.

"Every single player who does not have the attitude - forget potential, forget talent - if they don't have the attitude to run around in that shirt, get rid of them.

"I have full belief in Ole to do what he needs to do, but there's a big problem. That performance was rancid."

United are reportedly still in the hunt for a sporting director and Neville believes the club will struggle to rebuild the squad in the manner that is required unless the right appointment is made.

"I am concerned, the idea that United won the league a few years ago is gone," Neville continued.

"They're in the wilderness. Where's the next league title coming from? Yes, things can change but good, big decisions need to be made and quickly.

"Ole said he needed to rebuild this team and also said he needed a few transfer windows. Real Madrid are rebuilding, Bayern Munich are rebuilding, Arsenal are rebuilding, City and Liverpool will buy players, Barcelona need players. United are in a world where they need to compete with those clubs for the best players. Who is going to rebuild this squad?

"I don't believe there is anyone there to rebuild that club in a football point of view, in the way it needs to be built. At this moment in time something is fundamentally wrong."

Gary Neville branded Manchester United's players an embarrassment after Everton's 4-0 demolition of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side at Goodison Park.

United never looked up to scratch in Sunday's Premier League encounter, with Everton taking a 2-0 lead into half-time thanks to Richarlison's acrobatic effort and a wicked strike from Gylfi Sigurdsson.

Lucas Digne's effort and a cute Theo Walcott finish piled further misery on United – who face Manchester City and Chelsea in their next two outings – after the interval, as the Red Devils' top-four hopes took a blow.

A raging Neville insisted the blame sits firmly with the players and not Solskjaer, who went over to apologise to United's travelling support after the final whistle.

"I'm furious, the fact that he's had to go and apologise for the players," Neville said on Sky Sports.

"Jose Mourinho, the fans stuck with him, but they wanted him out in the end. They're not going to turn on Ole. Those players now, their heads are on the line.

"I watched Manchester City on Saturday, who United are trying to match. Bernardo Silva, David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne; better players that work twice as hard.

"Then you watch Liverpool who are their biggest rivals, they die for every single inch on the pitch. United, it's embarrassing watching some of those players, I'm absolutely furious.

"I watch United players walking, sauntering around, jogging back. You do not drop below the standard and work ethic that is expected at that club. They're falling below it.

"Every single player who does not have the attitude - forget potential, forget talent - if they don't have the attitude to run around in that shirt, get rid of them.

"I have full belief in Ole to do what he needs to do, but there's a big problem. That performance was rancid."

United are reportedly still in the hunt for a sporting director and Neville believes the club will struggle to rebuild the squad in the manner that is required unless the right appointment is made.

"I am concerned, the idea that United won the league a few years ago is gone," Neville continued.

"They're in the wilderness. Where's the next league title coming from? Yes, things can change but good, big decisions need to be made and quickly.

"Ole said he needed to rebuild this team and also said he needed a few transfer windows. Real Madrid are rebuilding, Bayern Munich are rebuilding, Arsenal are rebuilding, City and Liverpool will buy players, Barcelona need players. United are in a world where they need to compete with those clubs for the best players. Who is going to rebuild this squad?

"I don't believe there is anyone there to rebuild that club in a football point of view, in the way it needs to be built. At this moment in time something is fundamentally wrong."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer remains confident he will be a success at Manchester United and admitted some of his current squad will not be around to see it.

United fell to a humbling 4-0 reverse to Everton at Goodison Park on Sunday, a fifth successive away loss in all competitions constituting their worst run of such defeats since March 1981.

The defeat was a blow to the Red Devils' hopes of finishing in the Premier League's top four and means they can ill afford to drop points against Manchester City and Chelsea in the coming week.

Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson scored in the first half, and Lucas Digne and Theo Walcott notched after the restart to send Everton up to seventh.

Asked if what he saw in the dressing room after the match showed him the players care enough about playing for United, Solskjaer issued a damning response.

"I don't know. You've got to ask them. I've asked them. You're not going to get the answer from me. Of course, if you want to play at this club it's got to mean more," said Solskjaer.

"I've said it: I want my team to be the hardest-working team in the league. That's what we were under Sir Alex [Ferguson]. That's what we've always been.

"Giggsy [Ryan Giggs], Becks [David Beckham], Gary Neville, Dennis Irwin, whoever. [Regardless of] the talent you've got, you ran more than anyone. Every single week you'd shift up and down that pitch for your team-mates.

"We have to stick together as a team. We can't change the whole squad but it's one step at a time. I'm going to be successful here and there are players there that won't be part of that successful team, but there are many of them that do have it."

United were 11 points adrift of the top four when they sacked Jose Mourinho and appointed Solskjaer in December.

The Norwegian, who also masterminded a run to the Champions League quarter-finals, praised the players for their improvements but suggested a number of factors could be behind their run of two wins in eight matches in all competitions.

"We were two points ahead of Everton when I came so I wasn't under any illusions that we could win the league or challenge for the top two or top three," said Solskjaer.

"If you look at the table just before Christmas and look at the table now, yes, we're still in the same position but the amount of points we've taken, that's down to the players. Credit to the players.

"Maybe it's caught up with us, going through in the Champions League, as you're alluding to as well we're not fit enough maybe, because we don't run enough, or does it not mean enough?

"In the end, players will know it has to mean everything for you to play at this club, like it does for the fans. They travelled all the way here and sang for 90 minutes plus and that's everything."

Manchester United had statisticians searching through the record books after they suffered at the hands of Everton on Sunday.

The 4-0 reverse at Goodison Park means the Red Devils have now lost five consecutive away games in all competitions, their worst run of defeats since March 1981.

United last conceded four without reply against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in October 2016, when former Blues boss Jose Mourinho was still in charge.

They have only twice been on the wrong end of 5-0 results in the Premier League era, against Newcastle United in October 1996 and then to Chelsea three years later, while their heaviest loss in terms of goals conceded was the 6-1 derby defeat to Manchester City in October 2011.

This season's squad have conceded 48 league goals, already the club's highest single-season tally in the competition and their most in a league campaign since 1978-79 (63).

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side have also gone 11 consecutive matches without a clean sheet in all competitions, an unwanted feat they last achieved in December 1998.

Solskjaer has called for United to start matching teams for effort since initially taking over in December, so he will not be happy to see that his players ran 8.03 kilometres less than Everton, the biggest negative difference for the Red Devils in a Premier League game since their 3-0 home defeat to Tottenham in August 2018 (10.2km less). Interestingly, they have now run less than their opponents in 15 of 17 league matches under the Norwegian.

And it could still get even worse yet - they still have four games to go in the league, starting with Wednesday's clash with neighbours City at Old Trafford.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer apologised to everyone associated with Manchester United and admits the Red Devils were second best all over the pitch in Sunday's humiliating 4-0 loss at Everton.

The Toffees registered their biggest ever Premier League win over United with fine first-half finishes from Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson added to by efforts from Lucas Digne and Theo Walcott after the break at Goodison Park.

It completed a miserable five days for United, who were knocked out of the Champions League quarter-finals by Barcelona on Wednesday, and their chances of making the top four are looking increasingly slim.

"From the start of the first whistle everything went wrong," Solskjaer told Sky Sports. 

"I just want to apologise to the fans. They were the only people with a badge on today that can hold their heads high and say they were Man United, because we weren't.

"They [Everton] were better than us at everything. All the basics, we concede [from a] long throw-in we know just stick a head in there. The second goal a corner kick, there so many things we have to do better to get a result because talent has never, ever been enough.

"We just didn't perform and that's more or less all I can say. That was not worthy of a Man United team.

"We put our hands up and apologise to everyone associated with the club."

United's task hardly gets easier with Manchester City visiting Old Trafford on Wednesday as Pep Guardiola's side continue their assault on the title.

Solskjaer, though, sees the derby as an opportunity for his men to right a wrong and insists United can win all of their remaining four games. 

"It's the perfect chance for everyone to show [what they're capable of] on Wednesday," he added.

"It's a massive game, not just for us but for the league, we have to perform better than this.

"We need a game of football as soon as we can, we need to get this out of our systems and I think everyone here can say with hands on heart that's nowhere near good enough for a Man United team. 

"Me, the staff, everyone knows that. I apologise to the fans, I promise we'll come out Wednesday and give a performance.

"Of course you have to [win all the remaining games], then we might have a chance. It's a big ask, but we can do it, we've done it before, these players here have done it before.

"We are going to give it everything we've got in the last four games, massive games with City and Chelsea coming to Old Trafford, but Old Trafford is where we get best support in the world. 

"Football, like in life, things can change quickly, we have to change from bad to good."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer warned Alexis Sanchez and his Manchester United team-mates that the Red Devils cannot carry players as he looks to restore the club's former glories.

The United manager has made no secret of his belief that helping United challenge at the top in the Premier League and in Europe will be a long-term project at Old Trafford.

Five defeats in their past seven competitive outings has taken the shine off the fine start Solskjaer enjoyed in the Old Trafford hotseat and his frustration at the dip in standards has been evident.

The future of Sanchez is sure to come under scrutiny ahead of a close-season of rebuilding at United, with the Chile forward having continually struggled for form and fitness since joining from Arsenal in January 2018.

With just two goals to his name all season, Sanchez may be deemed surplus to requirements, although his hefty wages – which are reported to amount to more than £400,000 a week when accounting for bonuses – could prove a stumbling block.

And Solskjaer warned that every player in the squad must show a desire to succeed.

"As a club we cannot carry players," Solskjaer said. "Everyone has to take ownership, keep improving, show that hunger that you want to get better individually and as a team.

"I'm not just talking about Alexis. Everyone is under the same demands. But if we are talking about Alexis, he hasn't been lucky with injuries.

"Since I came in, he's had two long-term injuries and that hasn't been beneficial to him. Some other players have had injuries as well. But I see the characters we have. I am looking at who we should keep, who we should move on.

"Alexis has got a fantastic talent when he's at his best level. Now we want him performing for us."

United travel to Goodison Park on Sunday to face Everton as they look to keep themselves entrenched in the battle for the top four. 

Louis van Gaal said Ole Gunnar Solskjaer "parks the bus right in front of David de Gea" as he criticised the Manchester United manager again.

Solskjaer signed a permanent three-year deal last month after overseeing an upturn in results at United, however, the Red Devils have struggled since.

United – sixth in the Premier League and two points adrift of the top four – have lost two of their past seven matches in all competitions following a 4-0 Champions League quarter-final exit to Barcelona.

Former United boss Van Gaal, who initially questioned Solskjaer's approach after replacing Jose Mourinho in December, insisted the club favourite is defensive in his tactics.

"I can see how Ole had some impact in the beginning, because United were ninth in the table when he took over and the team was nothing," Van Gaal said via the Mirror. "United had been playing anti-football, as I call it, but don't think that Ole isn't afraid to park the bus either — he is more defensive than you think.

"I have been watching the team, because I always look at United still, and Ole parked the bus against Arsenal. He did it against Tottenham in the league. And at stages against Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona in the Champions League.

"He plays against all the big teams like that. The emphasis is more on defending than on attacking or wanting to play dominant football. I actually call it parking the bus. Ole does it not just outside the 18-yard box. He parks the bus right in front of [goalkeeper] David de Gea."

Van Gaal – who was sacked by United after winning the FA Cup in 2016 – added: "When United play that way, they play 4-4-2 and play counter attacking football with Marcus Rashford and Romelu Lukaku. They are gambling on the speed of those two because they are faster than their opponents when they get the space. Rashford’s pace is incredible. You don’t catch him when he breaks away.

"But if Man United want to be a dominant force in Europe again - and in England - they have to have a different playing style.

"The problem as a foreign manager is that you find out that the English football culture is different from Germany and Spain. In those countries, you work on things in training. In England, everything is done by playing matches. They get fitter or gain stamina by playing lots of matches. It is a culture you cannot change easily. I wanted to change things, but it proved very difficult."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer warned Manchester United's rebuild is a long-term project, while insisting he will only sign players who fit the club's DNA.

United are expected to be active in the transfer market amid links with Borussia Dortmund sensation Jadon Sancho, Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly and Real Madrid star Gareth Bale.

A number of players are also set to leave Old Trafford, with Matteo Darmian and Antonio Valencia reportedly poised to depart, while the futures of Alexis Sanchez, Ander Herrera, Juan Mata, Romelu Lukaku and Marcos Rojo are uncertain.

United manager Solskjaer – whose side are sixth in the Premier League but only two points adrift of the top four – told reporters: "We plan to be in the top four, we plan to be in the Champions League next season.

"We want players who can keep us in the Champions League and move us up the table. But we know there is not going to be a quick fix. We have to take it step by step.

"There will be new players coming in over summer but I don't think you can expect six. I don't think any manager you ask would be in favour of that amount of change anyway. We want to rebuild but it is going to have to be gradual, over a few windows."

"When I came in, there was an understanding that we had to get Man United's DNA back into the club, the team and the players," Solskjaer continued. "We need to get a culture back. What's the definition of culture? I'd say it's about how we do things here.

"I have my way of doing things – but I do expect them to be done. That might mean small things like having breakfast or lunch together. But I also like my players to take ownership of their own careers and their own futures. That's the type of player I like – and I have been impressed by many of the players we have got here. Not all of them, but a lot of them."

Solskjaer – speaking ahead of Sunday's trip to Everton – added: "I don't know the reason we have signed most of the players who are here. But I do know that they were brought here because they have great quality and previous managers have seen that. But I look for different things than [Louis] Van Gaal did, than [David] Moyes did, than Jose [Mourinho] did. I fancy different types of players – that's just the way it is in football.

"It's not a question of whether I like this player or that player. The question I ask is if they fit into Man United and the style I want this club to play.

"These players have had Mourinho, Louis van Gaal, [Alex] Ferguson, Moyes – four of the best managers there has been in England. But now I am new and I want us to play in different way."

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