It has been as difficult season for Manchester United as many had predicted. Letting go of Jose Mourinho midway through last season – and almost exactly a year ago – might’ve seemed harsh for some and quickly hiring unproven Solskjaer to replace the Portuguese mastermind even harsher still. The former Manchester United player took a flying start to his managerial career at United, but soon the realities hit hard and Manchester United fell from grace. As interim manager for 19 games, Solskjaer recorded an impressive 2.32 points per game – but as a permanent one, his number is only 1.53, worst since Dave Sexton’s time in 1977-1981.
However, there are some positives to take from all the misery seen on the pitch. It has become obvious that there’s not enough quality through the squad and finally that has been recognized by the ownership as well. Sometimes things move slowly in the world of football and Solskjaer has not had too much time to operate in the transfer market. During the summer, his first as permanent manager of the team, Solskjaer fixed what was the biggest problem – and easiest to fix. He brought in Harry Maguire to lead the defensive line and added up and coming right back Aaron Wan-Bissaka to the mix. Meanwhile he also stole prolific and pacey winger Daniel James from Swansea. They have arguably been United’s best players so far into the season, along with Marcus Rashford and David De Gea.
Many big name signings were reportedly on the table, but none materialized during the summer and Manchester United was left dealing with a midfield lacking creativity and pace and offense with barely enough bodies to fill the starting eleven. Injuries to Paul Pogba and, to a lesser extent, Nemanja Matic have left the midfield gaping as well, despite of Scott McTominay breaking through and Fred finally getting his sea legs. Next up for Solskjaer is to add players that can play the ball and that’s exactly what he will do.
Not many moves happen in January, but it just might be that Manchester United will pull one off. Solskjaer’s fellow countryman, Salzburg’s wonderkid Erling Haaland has been heavily linked to United, not least because of his history with the manager. It was Solskjaer who gifted the youngster his debut in Molde and the pair know each other very well. Bringing in Haaland would show the world – and the fans – that Manchester United means business once again.
While Haaland will not solve all of United’s problems, it’s another step forward in OSG’s project. Other speculated transfer targets feature the likes of James Maddison of Leicester, Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen and Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho but all of those moves are more likely in the summer. It would be exactly what the doctor ordered.