LINDSEY PARNABY/Getty ImagesManchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has discussed the size of the task he faces in rebuilding the club.Solskjaer replaced Jose Mourinho on an interim basis in December 2018 before becoming permanent manager in March last year.Per Goal’s James Westwood, he said:”I’ve been asked to do this job. I think the fans see what we’re trying to do and it had to be done.”As I’ve said last week, three weeks ago, four weeks ago, five weeks ago—it’s a rebuild. You had to tear the house down and you had to get players out that weren’t here in their minds.”We’ve got players here now who will go that extra yard, that culture I want to set, that’s the Man United culture.”The Norwegian added that his squad “have the right mentality and they’re good personalities.””That, for me, is the first tick,” he continued. “You don’t stay here if you don’t give everything to this team.”Solskjaer’s time in the dugout has been a period of transition for United.As Westwood observed, since he replaced Mourinho, the club have parted ways with Marouane Fellaini, Ander Herrera, Romelu Lukaku and Ashley Young, while Alexis Sanchez, Marcos Rojo and Chris Smalling have been sent out on loan.United have made four permanent signings in that time—Daniel James, Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Bruno Fernandes—all of whom have potential to be excellent acquisitions for the club.However, while many of the outgoings were necessary departures for United to move on, they have left themselves with a squad that’s dangerously threadbare in some areas.Until Fernandes’ arrival, the team also had virtually no creativity without Paul Pogba, who has been injured for most of the campaign.ESPN’s Alex Shaw criticised their recruitment shortly before the January transfer window ended:Alex Shaw @AlexShawESPNYou can talk about the (lack of) quality in the departures, fair, but the squad is small and injury prone as it is. And there’s no striker seemingly arriving and the potentials for a short term are all way below the level requiredThe Red Devils subsequently secured the services of Odion Ighalo in a late loan move. The Nigerian scored 15 Premier League goals for Watford in the 2015-16 season, but he has plied his trade in the Chinese Super League since 2017.Getting the squad to where it needs to be is a long-term process, and that largely falls on the club, rather than Solskjaer.However, his coaching of the side hasn’t been particularly convincing, either. Fernandes made his debut for the Red Devils in their 0-0 draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday, but as Bleacher Report’s Rob Blanchette observed, there was little movement in front of the playmaker for him to take advantage of:Rob Blanchette @_Rob_BToday, #MUFC placed one of the most creative midfielders in the world into the team, and little changed. Was interesting to watch Bruno have convoys with AWB, James & Martial in the game, telling them to make runs for him to pick out. They didn’t. They lack quality. #MUNWOLSolskjaer also opted to move Fernandes—who returned 63 goals and 52 assists in two-and-a-half seasons at former club Sporting CP ostensibly playing as an attacking midfielder—into a deeper role, where he was less able to impact the game.Football writer Jordan Clarke is seeing United suffer the same difficulties under Solskjaer that they encountered under his predecessors:Jordan Clarke @FourFourJordanQuality coaching and a defined style/system can make or break signings. The majority of United signings are labelled flops because no managerial appointment has implemented a system the players understand/can follow.
Solskjær is repeating this issue.A Premier League title challenge for United was never realistic this season, but they’ll be aiming for a UEFA Champions League spot.The Red Devils are seventh after 25 games, six points off fourth-place Chelsea, despite the Blues having picked up just four league wins from their last 13. They’re also 38 points behind leaders Liverpool and 16 behind a Manchester City side who have already lost six times, and they’re yet to reach double-figures for wins.