Gary Lineker says Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has given the “best possible audition” to land the Manchester United job on a permanent basis – but believes the club must wait until the summer before making their decision.
Interim boss Solskjaer has won nine of his 10 games in charge since Jose Mourinho’s sacking in December, giving the Red Devils renewed hope of qualifying for next year’s Champions League.
Ed Woodward, executive vice-chairman at Old Trafford, insists the club will not rush into an appointment, with several former players, including Gary Neville and John O’Shea, backing Solskjaer for the position.
United face Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League and former Tottenham striker Lineker says progression to the last eight in Europe’s most prestigious competition will give Solskjaer a huge chance of earning the job for keeps.
But at the same time he feels the Norwegian could be just a few games away from losing a grasp on the coveted position – should United endure a sticky patch of form.
Speaking exclusively to talkSPORT, the BT Sport presenter said: “He’s doing the best possible audition you could ever do – the transformation has been remarkable.
“He’s lifted the club for sure; he’s a likeable character who has good energy about him.
“With that said I don’t see why they need to rush (in making an appointment).
“We all know how quickly things turn in football.
“If they lost three or four games on the bounce then all of a sudden people would be questioning him.
“The board will take their time and there’ll be a shortlist of three or four, but he’s obviously in a prime position as things stand.”
Former Red Devils midfielder Paul Ince sparked controversy after suggesting on BT Sport’s Saturday Morning Savage that ‘anyone’ could have done the job the Norwegian has done.
“I think I could have gone in at the time,” he said.
“They needed someone to rest the ship, I think I could have done that.
“Brucie (Steve Bruce) could have done it, Mark Hughes could have, too.”
Ince, 51, who was last in charge of Blackpool in 2014, stood by his comments in a column published last Sunday by BBC Sport.
While Lineker refuted the claims Ince could have performed as well as Solskjaer, he did understand where the former was coming from.
He added: “I get Paul Ince’s point. I think it’s been taken a bit too literally.
“He was saying that he felt Mark Hughes, Steve Bruce and himself would have been able to go in there and steady the ship, and they may well have.
“However, what you can’t say is that any of those three would have done as well as Ole – which I suspect they wouldn’t have.
“United have gone on a remarkable run of form under Solskjaer and now look realistic top four contenders – they had no hope previously.”
He added: “What Paul was trying to articulate, which I agree with, is that you could have put a scarecrow in that dressing room and there would have been a response.
“You can take that from the fact nearly all of the squad had clearly lost a little bit of belief under the previous manager.
“He publicly criticised footballers and that never works in the dressing room, especially in the modern era.
“Even though players don’t go out and purposely don’t try, if you’re not happy off the pitch then you won’t perform as well as you will for someone who believes in you, puts an arm around your shoulder and tells you how good you are.