(Reuters) - Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should no longer be seen as a “transitional figure” at Old Trafford, but only a top-four Premier League finish would cement his position at the club, former striker Dimitar Berbatov said.
United were in fifth place when the Premier League ground to a halt because of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, but were on a five-game unbeaten run and only three points behind fourth-placed Chelsea.
Berbatov, who won two Premier League titles during his time at Old Trafford, believes Solskjaer has the support of the United hierarchy to rebuild the squad but needs results to end speculation about his future.
“It’s massive for United to finish in the top four,” Berbatov said in an interview with Betfair.
“It will give confidence to the manager. We all know he gets criticised and put under pressure and people are constantly speculating about his position, but this would cement him in the job.
“He shouldn’t be seen as a transition figure anymore, it’s disrespectful, it shows him no respect to what he is doing in his position.”
With Manchester City facing a European ban for breaching UEFA financial rules, instead of needing to finish in the top-four to claim a Champions League spot, fifth is likely to suffice.
Berbatov says United’s players must hit the ground running when they face Tottenham Hotspur in their first match back on Friday to lay the groundwork for the season run-in.
“The first game is so important, they need to take their chance,” said Berbatov, who also played for Spurs from 2006-08. “If they do then there will be a massive change next season and it will be huge.”
Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis