Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is on the cusp of marking his four-month anniversary at the helm of Manchester United, with the honeymoon period most certifiably over.
An initial start after taking over from Jose Mourinho as manager produced a stunning run of results, with just one loss out of his first 17 games, and that 2-0 defeat to Paris Saint-Germain being overturned on the subsequent trip to the France capital.
Though silverware hasn’t been forthcoming, the Norwegian has now - in his latest European escapades - unfortunately achieved something his immediate predecessors - David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, and Jose Mourinho did not in their own respective tenures at the club, losing at least five out of a seven game stretch in a period of just two wins in 12.
This run includes being ceremoniously dumped out of the FA Cup by Wolverhampton Wanderers, being leapfrogged in the Premier League by Arsenal, and most recently, comprehensively beaten both home and away to a Lionel Messi-led Barcelona to once again exit the Champions League.
Solskjaer’s managerial nous at one of the biggest clubs in the world is now undergoing its most serious test. An important summer transfer window lies ahead for the Baby-Faced Assassin, with the focus on the goings as intriguing as the comings.
The Spanish contingent of Juan Mata and Ander Herrera are set to leave when their contracts expire in the summer, but in dissipating the memories of the past few seasons of the post-Sir Alex Ferguson, as well as starting to create his own legacy more names need to be moved on by Solskjaer for progress.
Recently rewarded with a new contract but it’s glaringly apparent that the 33-year-old is no longer a top-level player, thrust with the captain’s armband and a regular starter at (usually) right-back. Young’s leadership is without question, and the winger-turned-full-back would be an asset behind the scenes, as many former players have gone on to be. As a first-teamer, expect collective groans to echo around Old Trafford for the foreseeable future.
The France World Cup winner initially thrived after having the Mourinho-shackles shaken off, the player and former manager’s tumultuous relationship well-documented and provided as a factor for the Portugueses’s departure. The 26-year-old was involved in 14 goals in his first eleven games following Solskjaer’s appointment. Since the beginning of March, however, that tally has dried up, bar a brace of penalties in the latest gameweek against West Ham.
The club and the Premier League’s record-signing would still command a tidy sum, with continental behemoths reportedly lining up for the midfielder. It might not be the #Pogback Red Devils everywhere were excited about in 2016, but Pogba has returned some quality and prestige to the club, and importantly silverware, and could still be the vital cog fans clamour for to fulfil that undeniable talent. The potential for Pogba to be a constant reminder of the Mourinho-era, with only sporadic spells of sizzle, however, is glaring.
David De Gea
United have been privileged with eight years of peerless service from the Spaniard, and have done as well to hold off the interest of such clubs as Real Madrid as De Gea has been holding off numerous attacks.
He has made over 350 appearances for Man Utd since his move, and the recipient of the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award a record four times illuminating not only his considerable talent but also the considerably tribulations that have beset the club since 2013.
His howler to give Barcelona an unassailable lead was a rare glimpse at his fallibilities, but the 28-year-old may come back to haunt the blaugrana should a move back to the Spanish capital be once again be on the cards, following a tricky season that haven't particularly reached the heights .
De Gea not only deserves the move, but an astute purchase to will solidify Solskjaer’s own mark on the set-up, with a considerable amount of funds likely to be provided with a potential move.