MANCHESTER, England -- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has warned Manchester United fans they may have to wait at least a year for another title challenge because of doubts over whether the team can show enough consistency.
Solskjaer's side face Manchester City at Old Trafford on Wednesday, with 22 points between the teams as City chase the title and United scrap for a place in the top four.
United have not been involved in a sustained title challenge since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, and Solskjaer said that wait may not end next season.
"I don't think we've got the consistency to do that," he told a news conference on Tuesday.
"Over the last 18 games, we're not far away from [City] but it's doing it over the course of a season. We've done it for half a season now. Let's see. You can never say never."
Sources have told ESPN FC that Solskjaer is set to overhaul his squad in the summer, with as many as six players leaving Old Trafford and five new signings coming in.
The manager has accepted he faces an important transfer window as he looks to shape a group put together by four different managers -- Ferguson, David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho -- but stressed the difficulty of signing the right players.
"You cannot expect things to happen overnight and we know that," Solskjaer said.
"It will happen gradually, and we have to be realistic enough as a club that we have to take it step by step.
"That's not changing 10 players now and bringing 10 players in. It's slowly, slowly but surely. It has to be the right quality, right personality, the right standards to get us back to where we want to be."
Antonio Valencia, Matteo Darmian, Marcos Rojo and Ander Herrera are likely to lead the list of departures, while there are doubts about the futures of Alexis Sanchez, Eric Bailly, Juan Mata and Romelu Lukaku.
Solskjaer suggested decisions had already been made but also challenged his squad to bounce back from the 4-0 humiliation at Everton by securing a top-four finish.
"We know who we want to bring with us," he said. "There's many of these players who will stay at the club for so many years and be successful, and I'm going to do everything I can to be successful.
"Hopefully these players can come out with a response the next four games, the last four games, short term. But we're still planning long term, and that's just natural. That's the cycle of a team."