Ryan Giggs on Solskjaer and why Pogba should be treated like Ronaldo
Ryan Giggs has an old school solution to Manchester United's issue with Paul Pogba.
Give him a good kicking!
Sitting at the top of Hotel Football in Manchester and looking down on Old Trafford, a genuine United legend delivers his verdict on a man who has everything in his make-up to be an icon to a whole new generation of fans.
The problem is, Pogba says he's ready for a new challenge, just three years into his second spell at the club and having failed to spark the resurgence since his then-world record £89m move from Juventus was intended to.
His declaration this summer that he wants to leave United has cast a shadow over Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's planned revival and added an air of uncertainty to what has been a critical window.
Giggs believes it has already left supporters divided – but as for the players, the 45-year-old says there is only one way the France international would have been dealt with during his day.
"Kick him in training," he says, without any sense of irony. "But that doesn't happen anymore.
"You are starting to lose that. Now I'm not saying you kick everyone. But that was how (Cristiano) Ronaldo got better.
"Scholesy would kick him if he took too many touches. And suddenly it clicked that you can't keep dribbling or else I'm going to get kicked.
"I saw an interview with (Vincent) Kompany at the end of the season. And he's a bit old school.
"He was asked about the week ahead of last game at Brighton and he said 'Sometimes I have to give a player a kick!' And I was thinking City might miss that this year."
Giggs is flanked by his former United teammate and co-owner of Salford City FC Phil Neville.
Fellow Class of 92 graduates Gary Neville, Paul Scholes and David Beckham have equal share in the newly-promoted League Two club, who are celebrating a five-year sponsorship with TalkTalk.
All are still United fans at heart and recognise the challenge ahead of Solskjaer to close the gap to Manchester City and Liverpool this season.
Most encouraging for Giggs and Neville has been a return to the traditions of club, established by Sir Matt Busby and Sir Alex Ferguson.
If Solskjaer is to be a success, having Pogba at the heart of his team is vital, says Neville.
"I think Paul's got to play a part in that culture change," he says. "It will help him. He is one of the senior players, a World Cup winner, won Serie A with Juventus, he is one of the senior players.
"He was there as a kid he saw the culture at the time, so now he's got to decide, if he is a footballer with United, he's got to be part of this culture change to win.
"He wants to win, he wants to be the best, no doubt about that. And he has probably got to set the example more than anyone else."
Giggs believes the 26-year-old has bridges to build with supporters.
"I think the fans are split," he adds. "Some fans say 'let him go,' some fans recognise the quality he has got and that if he does go there will be a big void.
"If you get rid of all the players and you haven't got quality to replace them then that is difficult as well. So it is a tough job for Ole that balancing act.
"Cristiano Ronaldo said he wanted to go and then did an extra year. Whether that is going to happen or not I don't know."
Both Giggs and Neville have been a part of the managerial merry-go-round at United that's followed Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement.
Assistants to Louis van Gaal and David Moyes, respectively, they have witnessed first-hand the challenges of trying to return the club to the summit of English football.
Along with Jose Mourinho, three established managers have come up short and paid the price over a six-year period without the title.
Solskjaer represents a very different direction – unproven and unheralded.
So why should he have any more joy turning United's fortunes around?
"The difference with Ole is, the past is a big weight on the back of everybody that goes out there," says Neville. "Everyone compares the style and the way that they play football. When Ole came in, we thought we'd got our United back.
"What Ole is doing is stamping his authority on the team, but playing a style of football that the fans want to come and watch.
"Maybe from a club point of view and maybe from the players' point of view the focus may not have been 100 percent on football in the past. Now it has to be or else it will be seven years until United win the league, eight years. You can see it getting longer and longer because City, Liverpool, Chelsea, they are all improving.
"If you saw the Community Shield (City v Liverpool), I think that is the level we need to get back to. That level of quality, intensity, level of system, that level.
"I don't think we are quite at it, but from what I have seen in pre-season I think you have seen the direction he wants to go – fast, attacking, a spirit, a system."
Giggs adds: "(Jurgen) Klopp wasn't brilliant overnight, but I think what you've seen from Klopp is improvement every year.
"It was a gradual improvement and I think as a United fan that's what you want to see. Not saying we're going to win the league this year, but if you start seeing improvements and a shift of culture with players you want to go and watch.
"We all want Ole to be successful, but even if he isn't, I think he will leave the club in a better state than when he took over, which in itself is a job.
"In two or three years' time some of these players are going to be top, top players. They are already good players, but in a few years they will be top players.
"Whether Ole is going to be successful in that time I don't know, but introducing players like (Mason) Greenwood and (Tahith) Chong will stand the club in good stead."
Even at 17, Greenwood looks like a readymade star.
Solskjaer has hinted he is ready to start the forward in the opening game of the season against Chelsea on Sunday – but a role on the bench seems more likely.
Giggs was a teenage sensation himself – and despite his excitement over Greenwood's potential, it's clear he doesn't want to place undue pressure on his shoulders.
"I like Greenwood, but playing centre forward for Man United every week is a different thing." He says. "I think we will see a lot of him this season because he is such a talent.
"Every time I see him I like him but he is still very young and learning the game.
"I think it was a smaller squad (when I came through) - there were say 15 of us in the first team squad now it is 27 or 28 so it was slightly easier to get in (the team). And I was a winger.
"But being centre forward for United, it doesn't happen very often that one comes through the ranks. (Marcus) Rashford has done it, but usually they buy someone in."
One player they have bought is Daniel James, who is managed by Giggs in the Wales national team.
While the 21-year-old is seen as another for the future, Giggs is confident he can deliver right away.
"I am excited because I know what he's capable of," he says. "It gives me an excuse to watch United as well.
"He's a grounded lad, who just wants to play football and improve. But a year ago – 18 months ago - he was on loan at Shrewsbury. But the last six months I've seen a massive change in him, working with him, mentally, physically.
"Like any young winger you are going to be up and down. You look at Ronaldo – in his first 18 months he was like that and you see where he is now. I'm not comparing him with Ronaldo, but young wingers, sometimes their final ball, sometimes they could score more – that's always going to be the case with Dan.
"But when he's on fire he is very difficult to stop and I think United fans in a lot of games this year will be excited."
In the short term that might be as much as supporters can hope for from Solskjaer's revolution – but for the likes of Giggs and Neville, who have the club running through their veins, their former teammate is finally pulling the club in the right direction.