Sir Alex Ferguson’s former assistant at Old Trafford sees signs of progress, but admits major silverware needs to be secured by an ambitious club
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knows he is working under a “magnifying glass” at Manchester United and that he has to “compete for trophies” in order to keep his job, says Rene Meulensteen.
The Norwegian spent enough time at Old Trafford in his playing days to become fully versed in the demands that are placed on anybody associated with the Red Devils.
He helped to deliver an impressive haul of major honours while operating as a prolific frontman, but is yet to add to his medal collection in a coaching capacity.
The hope is that, after reaching three semi-finals last season, the 2020-21 campaign will see United get back on the trophy trail.
Positive progress is being made in Premier League and Carabao Cup quests, while the consolation prize of a spot in the last-32 of the Europa League has been accepted after slipping out of the Champions League.
Meulensteen believes that Solskjaer can be the man to deliver on expectation at United, despite the regular rounds of questions he has faced across a two-year tenure, but admits that patience in Manchester will only stretch so far.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s former right-hand man told Stadium Astro: “If you are manager of Manchester United then you are under the magnifying glass.
“United is the biggest challenge. You not only need to win games, you also need to play a certain style of football, a certain brand. You need an attacking style and to win games and get results.
“It is important for him this season to stay within touching distance of the top of the Premier League, especially after getting knocked out of the Champions League. He needs to have another run in the Europa League.
“Last year they got to three semi-finals and didn’t get to the final in one of them. For now, Ole can only do one thing and focus on the games in hand. He has stressed that he is it in for the long term, the club have backed that, but he needs to compete for trophies.”
Meulensteen say Solskjaer is bringing together the right “pieces” at Old Trafford, with value found in the transfer market that has allowed the Red Devils to become competitive once more.
The Dutchman added: “He has had a chance to bring certain players in, and the most important player he has brought in is Bruno Fernandes.
“The evidence is there for how much he is the catalyst of getting United to play in the United way. He is very skilful, he has got great vision, he’s intelligent, he has got a lot of creativity in his play, he’s not afraid to take risks. There are a lot of things there.
“There have been other players come in like Donny van de Beek, who I think we still haven’t seen the best of, Alex Telles at left-back, so bit by bit they are starting to put the pieces together.
“Up front they have got bags of pace and goalscoring opportunities so it’s not a surprise that they are up there in the league.
“But it’s still early doors and he still wants to be there at the end of March, early April. If they are there then, or even top of the league, then they are truly title contenders again.
“That would be a fantastic job and mean really good progress. At the moment they are sitting nicely with a game in hand.”
The Red Devils saw off struggling Sheffield United 3-2 in their last outing, with another comeback victory on the road lifting them up to sixth in the table, five points off leaders Liverpool with a game in hand.