United head into tomorrow night’s game against arch-rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford with huge clouds hanging over the club after a disastrous summer transfer window was backed up by shocking defeats against Brighton and Brentford to start the season.
While signing of Brazilian midfielder Casimero from Real Madrid will be a welcome boost, United’s woes will not be solved by the arrival of one top-class player.
Sitting rock bottom of the Premier League table and with the club’s fans in open revolt against the club’s owners and players, the future of star man Ronaldo has been dominating the headlines after he made it clear he wanted to leave.
United officials continue to insist they won’t sell their Portuguese superstar, but Ince suggests Ten Hag needs to be ruthless and solve a problem that is threatening to overshadow their season.
“If a player wants to leave, eventually they find a way to get out,” said Ince, speaking at a Safe Betting Sites event.
“We saw when Ronaldo came on in the first game of the season that some fans were applauding him, but some fans weren’t happy with him.
“It showed that again, it’s another disruption in the building process of Manchester United.
“It’s a difficult one. Obviously, you think about the 18 goals he scored last year and without them, United are in the bottom half of the table.
“This shows the importance of Ronaldo to this team, but there comes a point where questions are asked.
“Ronaldo is a serial winner, one of the best players ever to grace the football pitch, but you have to be a leader, you have to set an example.
“And there’s been times where he’s not played, or he’s walked off the pitch, not applauded the fans, and that doesn’t sit well.
“Whether he wants to stay or leave, he still has to have the ultimate respect for everybody else. This is an issue that needs to be resolved quickly, and it’s never easy for a manager.
“Once the window is shut, it’s a case of if he’s still here, he’s got to get on with it. He needs to get himself fit, and start playing for his fans and his teammates.”
Ince, who also had a spell with Liverpool in his decorated career, suggests new United head coach ten Hag needs to be given time to bed down his philosophies at United, despite all the criticism after just two games into his reign.
With protests expected tomorrow night against the Glazer family as they continue to drain money from United through lavish wages and dividends, despite the alarming slide in the club’s fortunes, Ince suggests the toxic atmosphere around Old Trafford is not helping the coach who took over in June.
“Fans have to be patient with ten Hag because we can’t go back down the same road of changing manager again,” continued Ince, who formed a fearsome midfield combination with Roy Keane in United’s 1993/94 double-winning team.
“You look at Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool, you look at Pep Guardiola at Man City. In the four, five, six years they’ve been there, look at the success they have had.
“Then look at Alex Ferguson when he was at United and it shows that longevity brings you success. Changing managers all the time is not the way forward.
“So the fans have to give ten Hag a chance, let him at least have a couple of years, to get his team together. Klopp never had his team together in the first year – he took two or three years before he had the perfect balance in his team.
“Ten Hag will need at least two years to have the perfect balance of a team that’s going to challenge the likes of City and Liverpool. That is a long way off, but this is not a quick fix.
“People say it’s a tough job. I’d say it’s one of the best jobs in the world because you’re managing one of the biggest clubs in the world, if not the biggest.
“We know what’s happened in the last five to ten years. Chopping and changing managers, trying to get the right manager in.
“We’ve had some world-class managers in Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho, but it didn’t really work.
“After that we left ourselves short, I don’t think they actually knew what we were doing as far as employing managers.”
Ince suggests United’s ongoing transfer window nightmares are the key factor behind the club’s collapse, in a week that a move for Juventus midfielder Adrien Rabiot collapsed.
“The recruitment’s the most important thing as a manager,” added Ince, who is currently manager of Championship side Reading.
“You look at the business that Pep’s done, the business that Klopp does, and I’ve always said to myself ‘how come these players are going to these clubs and yet
Man United aren’t involved in getting these players to their club?’ Maybe it’s the Champions League issue, I don’t know. “The fact is the recruitment hasn’t been great for a long, long time. And that’s a major thing for the club.
“Irrespective of whether United are in the Champions League or not, at the end of the day it’s Manchester United.
“When I was playing for the club, everybody wanted to play for United. Nowadays it seems that’s not the case.
"The best players want to play in the Champions League, they want to go to Liverpool or City, or go to London because London’s a lovely place. So Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham have that advantage.
“For some reason, Man United have fallen behind, so that’s something that internally they’ve really got to look at. They’ve really got to get that right.”
Too much is going wrong at United for a revival to be imminent and once again, the club’s fans are looking forward to a showdown with Liverpool with fear rather than hope in their hearts.