Travel for four straight away games and the gutsy conditions needed a freshening up of the squad in Greenwood and Chong nor the alternatives to Scott McTominay were explored by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Brandon Williams merits starting in pacey Premier League while Ashley Young can be used in slower European competitions reversing the policy employed thus far. With Fred and McTominay faring very very poorly in distribution of forward passes the proven Harry Maguire can play as a sweeper in a three man back line to supplement this weakness in midfield.
Sir Alex Ferguson not only led Aberdeen to break the Old Firm hegemony in Scotland but won in Europe beating the mighty Real Madrid in Cup Winners Cup final. Ten trophies in eight and a half years at Pittodrie! At United he faced myriad problems from drinking culture, injuries to major players, poor recruitment that hired mavericks not specialists, scouting and coaching setup. First four seasons were spent correcting those foundations finishing 11th, 2nd, 11th and 13th then trophies followed with FA Cup being the first in 1990. That was the first match from which I started my journey as an MUFC fan while listening on the BBC Radio.
Sir Alex Ferguson had heard from his mentor Jock Stein about his regret of not taking up an offer to succeed Sir Matt Busby which left a deep impression on him. The MUFC board that included Sir Bobby Charlton did not want a repeat of that situation the nor public refusal from Lawrie McMenemy, Bobby Robson, Ron Saunders to succeed Dave Sexton in 1981 and hence met Ferguson a day before sacking Ron Atkinson following a 1-4 defeat in a Cup replay away to Southampton and were 19th in the league(3 Wins, 6 Loss, 4 Draws from 13 games, 10 points). On taking charge Ferguson the optimist said "It's no use me coming here and not thinking that every game we play we can win, that's the only way that we can attack things." Once the enormity of task dawned on him Ferguson said "No manager is prepared for the job at Old Trafford. The legend is huge." and rolled up his sleeves.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has started a similar journey but based on his modest success with Molde in Norwegian league and a resounding failure with Cardiff in the Premier League. He understands the club very well being a legend who scored that goal to win the Treble in 1999. Thread bare squad with eight injured players makes the difficult task improbable.
The fans cannot expect midfield domination so long a staple of MUFC with Paddy Crerand, Ray Wilkins, Bryan Robson, Roy Keane and Micheal Carrick down the years. Solskjaer like Mourinho plays on the counter attack based on the players at his disposal while developing the young Scott McTominay and others. MUFC have an inferior squad compared to Leicester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur let alone the top two but have a very high wage bill that exposes the massive expectation gap. The baggage of incredibly successful history can weigh down or inspire a new evolution of youth rightly being promoted by Solskjaer.
Three away wins last week acts like a tonic to relieve immediate stress but a complete cure needs a longer run and sufficient time to heal. He needs to mix long term corrections with short term fixes perhaps in January transfer window to ensure the club finishes in top 8 if not in top 6. That requires turning defeats into draws or coming from behind to win a game which is a phenomenon yet to happen this season. Key to Solskjaer's next milestone is for the team to demonstrate that 'never say die' spirit else the tame surrender will only yield one result that of another managerial scalp.