It was seven fairly positive days for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
After more than a year of talks with Manchester United fans pulling their hair out, the Red Devils finally landed long-term Jadon Sancho, with the Borussia Dortmund star completing his £73million move to Old Trafford.
Just 24 hours later, Solskjaer penned a new three-year contract with United, with the top of the club seeing the Norwegian as the man to lead them back to the top of English football.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has enjoyed a fairly positive seven days as Manchester United boss
The Norwegian finally brought in Jadon Sancho (R) and put a new three-year contract on paper
However, a poor performance against QPR certainly dampened the spirits.
Yes, the team deployed to West London was far from United’s strongest, but the Red Devils didn’t look like their Championship opponents shot four past them on Saturday.
This pre-season result has certainly already been forgotten by the masses at United, but Solskjaer will be fully aware that, for all the positivity behind the scenes, it is the results on the pitch that will define his legacy as United boss.
On paper, Solskjaer’s two-and-a-half-year reign has seen a sea change in United’s fate.
For Solskjaer it was two and a half years of steady improvement at the helm at United
Solskjaer has the support of the players but his new deal has been met with mixed reactions
The 48-year-old took the club from 6th to 2nd in the Premier League, reaching four semi-finals and the Europa League final where they lost to Villarreal on penalties in May – all signs of progression from the chaos left by José Mourinho .
But despite the good vibes at United, news of Solskjaer’s new deal has been met with mixed reactions, with United fans questioning the rationale behind the move to reward Solskjaer despite his lack of trophies for the club.
“So Mourinho wins the Europa League, Community Shield and EFL Cup with an inferior team and gets suspended,” wrote one fan. Solskjaer wins nothing, gets great new players, still wins nothing and is rewarded with a contract. WTF!’
Solskjaer’s new deal has been met with mixed reaction from Man United supporters
“I’m an Ole fan, but I’m not sure yet…” wrote another United supporter.
With the likes of Pep Guardiola, Thomas Tuchel and Jurgen Klopp making their mark, it is widely accepted that the days of full domination under Sir Alex Ferguson are long gone, but the Red Devils are expected to at least move from one side to the other. to go. with their rivals.
From an external point of view, however, second place seems acceptable at Old Trafford.
United remain some way from the heyday enjoyed under the all-conquering Sir Alex Ferguson
While United aren’t expected to dominate, fans want them to take on their rivals
“What I’m worried about is losing them hurt enough?” United legend Paul Scholes said after United’s last defeat in Gdansk.
“When you lose games as a United player, look at the last three or four weeks: they’ve lost games, does that really hurt? It has almost become an accepted thing.
“From Ole’s point of view, where are the demands on him? I don’t think they’ll tell you to win a trophy or you’ll be gone. He’s made progress, which is the progress of the last three or four years, but if you go back further it’s clearly not because this club expects to win trophies.
“If it’s next year, the next few years, and it’s still nothing, look, he might have a problem. But for now I don’t think those demands are there on him where he has to win. I think there are a lot of players who don’t really hurt.
United legend Paul Scholes questioned the level of Solskjaer’s demands on his United stars
The former midfielder suggested there is an acceptance to finish second at United
“You’re looking at Bruno Fernandes, Edinson Cavani…they’re the ones looking at me like they really hurt. The others, sometimes it can look a bit acceptable. Even from the manager sometimes it looks a bit acceptable. United has almost become a fun club that people love.
“That’s why they’re in the position. This squad is not big enough. Look at Manchester City, they have two teams, two teams that can win a league. I think United have 11 or 12 players who are capable of winning the league, but they need more than that, you need 17 or 18, especially at this time.”
United’s inability to make deals in previous windows has left Solskjaer somewhat shielded from criticism over poor results.
The club’s failure to land Bruno Fernandes in the summer of 2019 and then Sancho last year caused United fans to express their anger at chief executive Ed Woodward and the property of Glazer, rather than the boss, when the results went against them.
But now there can be no question of a lack of support for the Norwegian.
United’s ineptitude in the transfer market has helped protect Solskjaer from fan criticism
However, the arrival of Sancho, plus the expected arrival of Raphael Varane (L), means United’s leaders cannot be accused of not supporting Solskjaer. Jules Koude (R) is also linked
Sancho’s arrival gives Solskjaer the right winger he has longed for, while the club have reached an agreement with Real Madrid on a £42million transfer for Raphael Varane.
Jules Kounde of Sevilla could be another player through the door at Carrington, bolstering United’s defence, which has been ensnared by inconsistency under Solskjaer.
United’s problems are not just in the defense and right wing. Roy Keane denounced the combination of Fred and Scott McTominay in the club’s midfield, claiming the club will never return to its former glory with the duo at the heart of the midfield.
“I’m just looking at the performance of the two midfielders tonight, McTominay, he’s a good honest player,” Keane said after United’s 4-2 defeat to Liverpool.
“They’ve got Fred, as long as those two are playing in midfield for Manchester United they won’t win any big trophies.
United are also reportedly leading the hunt for Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves, who is worth £35million
“I know Ole keeps with Fred, but I can’t see it. I don’t know how they think Fred United will win titles again.’
United’s top squad are trying to solve that problem for Solskjaer as well, with the club reportedly ahead of Arsenal in the race to sign Wolves’ £35million Ruben Neves.
All this points to it being a now-or-never season for Solskjaer to make his mark and finally get United over the line.
“You can’t say that’s an achievement,” Solskjaer said of the merits of a second-place finish in April.
Solskjaer says he’s not happy with second place but now it’s time for him to deliver
‘Our ambition is much more than a second place. I said when I wasn’t at the club you can never be happy about that and neither are we. Don’t get me wrong, our ambition is to capture the team for us.
‘Currently [City] have had a fantastic season, they’ve had three or four and we know the challenge ahead. But we have to face it. If you don’t, then you’re in the wrong place, because that’s what I’m going for.
“Players really have to take that on with the sacrifices they have to make and the work they have to do. Blood, sweat and tears have to be surrendered, because this is the best competition in the world – and the most difficult.’
The time for talking is over and the excuses must end. On August 14, with Sancho and Varane in his ranks, Solskjaer and United should have their eyes firmly set on first place. Nothing less is enough.