Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must establish Man Utd's direction before summer recruitment
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By James Cooper, SSN reporter at Carrington
Last Updated: 26/04/19 4:05pm
These are troubling times at Manchester United but for once since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson, the manager of the football club enjoys universal support, writes James Cooper.
Had David Moyes, Louis van Gaal or Jose Mourinho surrendered meekly to Everton or been outclassed by Manchester City on home soil, the clamour would have been deafening.
But Ole Gunnar Solskjaer walks a different path to those who've come before, he gets a standing ovation at Goodison Park and each and every one of his steps towards the Old Trafford dressing room on Wednesday night were met with applause and cheers.
His status will buy him time and patience but the job he's been tasked with looks more sizeable as every week passes and a stretch of seven defeats in nine games might prompt talk of wholesale summer clear out but this isn't something being contemplated by the Old Trafford power brokers.
Yes, there'll be departures and perhaps more than half a dozen of them, once the window opens, but there won't be the huge influx of talent many are calling for.
Even Solskjaer is aware that too much change could destabilise what is already a fragile situation.
The Norwegian's appointment is for the long-term, that is the message coming out of Manchester.
He met with executive-chairman Ed Woodward in the wake of the derby defeat but the pair meet on a weekly basis and talk every day.
Naturally, after a performance like that there would have been difficult questions, but the focus is already upon next season whether that be the make-up of the first team squad or the structure of the entire club.
There's a feeling around the club of 'let's get to the end of the season and take a breath and reflect'.
The problem with that is the next three games will dictate the schedule Solskjaer and his players face in pre-season and next season.
A top-four finish, which is still achievable and could really be opened up again with victory over Chelsea, live on Sky Sports, would mean Champions League football and all the benefits of being involved in Europe's top competition.
But after three games without a goal and no clean sheet in the last 12, there's real fear of the return of Thursday night football and the Europa League.
One thing that's remained consistent since his interim appointment in December is the manner of Solskjaer himself.
The Norwegian, as he was as a player, is bright and positive and noticeably politer with the media than those who've gone before.
It helps that he's known many of the journalists on the Manchester patch for more than two decades and that the majority of the those asking the questions want him to succeed.
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But his experience has taught him that such goodwill only lasts for so long and only gets you so far.
United might be a commercial dream but at the root of it the club needs results on the pitch to match those on the balance sheets. One thing is almost certain - Solskjaer will have a fitter, more united Manchester United next season and a team that will play in his image.
What comes before that, though, is one of the most crucial summers the club have recently faced.
Recruitment is the watchword across the entire club but so too is the direction Solskjaer wants to drive it all.