Manchester United players must now step up for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, says Alan Smith
Last Updated: 19/12/18 1:07pm
Alan Smith believes it will be embarrassing for Manchester United's players if they suddenly improve now Jose Mourinho is no longer the club's manager.
With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in charge on a caretaker basis until the end of the season, his reign begins away to the Cardiff team he managed for less than nine months in 2014 on Saturday.
Solskjaer's first four games in charge are against teams currently in the lower half of the Premier League, with his fifth a home tie against struggling Championship side Reading in the FA Cup.
In that respect, an opportunity to start well is there - and Smith insists it is imperative for United that happens.
He told Sky Sports News: "It will be really interesting to see the change in the behaviour of the players on the pitch because a lot of people have said it's over to them now.
"They've maybe been blaming the manager before but they haven't got that excuse now. Go out there and show us what you can do, what your price tags suggest you can do.
"Players have to look at themselves. I've been in that kind of position before where nobody is happy and they can't lift themselves.
"Some have their private agendas with the manager, like it seems Paul Pogba did with Mourinho. Will he be a different player now?
"It is a little bit embarrassing if you can turn on that tap - but it's time to do it now. Ole needs to get an identity to the team and a way of playing, a shape.
"Pogba, you would imagine, will be heavily involved in his plans. If he can play the way he does for his country, you have got a great asset in the middle of the park.
"It's a case of working on the training ground on the shape that Ole wants."
Mauricio Pochettino is the clear favourite to become United manager in the long run, with the Tottenham boss refusing to rule himself out of the running on Tuesday.
Former Arsenal striker Smith thinks the fact United have made a caretaker appointment is reflective of the fact their primary target is currently working somewhere else.
He added: "Have they got their eye on one specific person? Probably, and maybe the charm offensive starts now in terms of discussions with that person.
"Obviously Pochettino is being mentioned left, right and centre. I just don't know what direction that would take if they did go for him.
"It's clearly a huge decision. It's also interesting who is making that decision, a football one.
"In the past, you've wondered - Ed Woodward isn't qualified, the Glazers certainly aren't. Was Sir Alex Ferguson involved in the Solskjaer appointment? Will he have a say in the next one?
"It's a huge call. Maybe they won't get their first choice but we might never know that. They've got a few months leeway to try and do the very best for the football club."