Four games into the 2019/20 season and Manchester United are in a false position. We may sit eighth in the - still fledgling - Premier League table - but we were two inches away from nine points out of 12 and third place. Fine margins indeed. We took two points from Wolves, Palace and Southampton but deserved more.
We have not played badly but little things have cost us. Errant spot-kicks from Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford, a fortuitous Patrick van Aanholt ricochet, a player taking a shot when the pass was on and vice versa. All these renumerations add up to a bigger accumulation of debt.
But at least these moments are happening. At least we're creating the chances and controlling games. I'd be far more worried if we weren't creating anything and being outplayed.
Solskjaer has got rid of the
shit, brought the youth through and tried to play the right way. His signings have broken the mould and been top notch so far. Young, British and hungry. The results will come in good time.
He buys good characters as well as good players, doing due diligence on personality, not being seduced by reputation. He is building for the future, and deserves to see that come to fruition.
Has his desire to trim the squad left him short in attack? Probably yes, but Lukaku’s body language screamed “gone” and Alexis Sánchez’s expensive presence had just become embarrassing. Solskjaer was decisive. He is accused of being too nice, but he can be the baby-faced assassin again and carries an under-rated air of ruthless determination.
Klopp and Josep Guardiola didn't just suddenly get their teams to where they
are now overnight. Liverpool’s pressing and fast raiding and City’s pressing and intricate possession took time and training to implement. It can take years for a manager to change the entire complexion of a team's style. If there's no change under Ole after three years, then we can re-assess, but until then it is churlish to pass judgement on the fruits of Solskjaer's labour.
As the playwright and author John Heywood once penned, Rome wasn't built in a day.
Those trying to rush Solskjaer towards the exit should understand that he is coldly, calmly attempting a “revolution”, in the description of Rashford. He’s doing what the fans have been calling for, sorting out a squad that has acquired layer after layer of four managers’ signings, leaving it bloated, top heavy and imbalanced.
He has to be given time to rebuild as there is not any quick fix. I don’t expect a top-four finish this season but some exciting football with some pace and purpose would be good to watch.
Three wins in 18 games may suggest a man living on borrowed time, but scratch the surface beyond simply the results and Solskjaer has got nearly everything right. He's doing what us fans have wanted - and needed - from a United boss for years.
Ole and his staff deserve the chance to put United back on the right track, a track they know.