Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Paul Pogba is crucial to Manchester United’s hopes of success in the forthcoming season.
After an initial upturn in fortunes when he took over from Jose Mourinho, Solskjaer presided over an awful run of form in the final months of the season as United finished sixth.
United will be hoping to restore their Champions League status next season but Solskjaer insists the club must aim higher than the top four.
“We have to aim for further up than fourth,” he told BBC Sport. “I would rather be an optimist and be wrong than a pessimist and be right.
“I am not used to us being fifth or sixth but that is where we are at. That is the size of the challenge. I love that challenge.
“We have to work with the players, sign the right types and gradually make our way to the challenging line. Our players do have quality. They do have a chance. We just need consistency.
“We have to keep working every single day and not take our eyes off the target. Everyone gets off line at some point but you can't let it drift too far because then you won't get to the overall goal.”
Solskjaer made a fantastic start to life as United manager, winning 14 of his opening 19 games including a win of eight straight victories.
Pogba produced arguably the best football of his United career during that run, before coming in for criticism as season unravelled.
France’s World Cup winner is believed to be eager for a move away this summer - with Real Madrid and Juventus said to be keen.
Solskjaer, though, has other plans - throwing his weight behind Pogba and suggesting he is pivotal to his team.
“Paul is a fantastic player and a fantastic human being,” added the Norwegian. “He has always been a great professional.
“When I was at Molde, I said, 'if he's in your squad, you'd build a team around him'. I would say the same now.
“Manchester United fans know their football. We know Paul has been criticised by a few but he's loved by loads more. You know, it's the best feeling you can have to be at this club when we're successful.
“The ones that might want to leave now haven't been here when it's been successful. Hopefully they want to be part of that. I want to be part of it.”
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