Positive changes but still cannot dictate matches is Solskjaer's first year report card

Solskjaer has eclipsed that night in Paris by scintillating victories over Tottenham and Man City within 3 days, jettisoned the naysayers, rejuvenated the squad with youth from academy as per traditions, spent the budget wisely on three first team starters, 11 changes to the team for an exhausting trip, rejig of the youth setup with head of first team development, amid all the struggles maintained the decorum in his communication, and still there is plenty to be done.

De Gea was tied down with a new contract but errors have crept into his game, Wan-Bissaka hasn't let anyone beat him one-on-one securing the right flank, Maguire leads the side by playing the most minutes, Lindelof now Sweden's best player for 2nd successive year, Williams has been the standout youth taking his chance amid injury crisis, McTominay and Fred consistently being picked have gained confidence, James the 22 year old has carried the team on his young shoulders on many occasions, Andreas runs around energetically and puts a few decent crosses, Rashford has grown in stature to represent the club having already matched his best goals tally before December itself, Martial links the play well yet fizzles out against sturdy opponents, Greenwood great option from the bench has 2nd best goals tally behind Rashford, Tuanzebe ready for first team after two great years on loan. Its a far cry from having Valencia, Smalling, Jones, Young, Fellaini, Sanchez stutter last year and is a welcome positive change by Solskjaer.

Paul Pogba has been absent for most of the year and could easily have opened up teams to improve the league position. Club has moved ahead during his absence to demonstrate how he can still play a crucial part yet being able to cope without its only world class player. Solskjaer has benefited immensely as Pogba turned his magic post sacking of Mourinho but his form could not last as he was asked to do too much. Once again the Gaffer has spoken of Pogba as "best all-round midfielder in the world" pinning his hopes and not well thought out plan for the Frenchman. As his agent Mino Raiola rightly pointed out Pogba needs help around him with better players.

Club needs to pounce on three top midfielders like Sergej Milinkovic-Savic if Pogba leaves, James Maddison to wear the iconic No 7 jersey, Denis Zakaria to add physicality and fill the gaping hole that allows opponents into disbelief as to how a club renowned for Pat Crerand, Nobby Stiles, Sammy McIlroy, Bryan Robson, Roy Keane, Paul Scholes, Micheal Carrick can be so brittle nowadays? Simply put midfield is the most critical element in controlling the game. Agents and opponents are happy for MUFC as they look set to sign Erling Haaland who is a great prospect but clearly points to an incorrect priority in their acquisition.

Manchester United struggle against teams outside the top 6 who sit back and expect the Reds to break them down but cannot and end up dropping points. First loss at home to Crystal Palace in 30 years, converted the visits to London Stadium into a graveyard due to abject non-performance, can't stomach a fight against the rain, wind and determination at Bournemouth, gifted victory to Newcastle who debuted two brothers in arms, continue to lose to the bottom most club in Watford just like Cardiff last season and this season is not yet over so expect few more unpleasant records to blemish the spectacular history of this great club. Critics point to Solskjaer's inability to eek out results to convert defeats into draws and draws into victories by varying his tactics. Result might seem unimportant if the board has given a blank slate.

Can the double winning captain finally win at Old Trafford as a manager? Steve Bruce has never won at Old Trafford in the opposition dugout while Manchester United have the best record of winning the boxing day fixtures. It was in 1930-31 that Newcastle United did the double over MUFC who suffered relegation finishing last in the league! That would be disastrous indeed if the double loss to Magpies were to happen again 89 years later.

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