AS we head towards the final international break until next March, there’s still one or two uncertain clouds gathered over Old Trafford.
Where United will be in Spring is anyone’s guess, but what must improve if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is to have any long-term future, are Premier League results.
United have won only three times in 11 Premier League games, and despite Harry Maguire’s presence, are one of only three Premier League teams who are yet to score from a free-kick, or a corner in the league this season.
A win and a positive performance against Partizan Belgrade is all well and good, but they must follow that up with three points against the Seasiders on Sunday, if Solskjaer is to avoid any further unwanted records.
Performances like the one at home to Liverpool in the league, away at Chelsea in the league cup, and against Partizan in the Europa League, provides fans with hope.
But consistency needs to be found pretty quickly if the hordes of doubters are to be silenced.
Ashley Young is suspended for the game so Brandon Williams should make his first Premier League start, and there’s also doubts over Scott McTominay and Victor Lindelof.
During the 1-0 defeat to Bournemouth last weekend, United’s play resorted to being predictable again, and Eddie Howe’s side looked comfortable, sitting in and playing out time for the 1-0 win.
It’s a tactic that a few opposition managers have adopted already this season, and one Solskjaer has struggled to find an answer to.
United fans are crying out for the type of intensity and tempo they saw against Partizan in the Europa League and are asking why they haven’t seen it on a more frequent basis, especially at home.
Talk of a relegation battle has been laughed off within the club and if Solskjaer has a fully fit squad they should be looking up at a position in the top six rather than what’s going on any lower.
Ahead of the latest round of Premier League games though, United sit just five points above the drop zone, and two behind Graham Potter’s side.
The last time United started a season as badly as this was 33 years ago, and in November of that very year, the board made a decision to sack Ron Atkinson and replaced him with a Scot named Alex Ferguson.
More time will be given to Solskjaer but his legendary status can and will only take him so far.
Improvements to team spirit, culture, and games against the likes of Partizan in the Europa League have been noted, but supporters are impatient and Solskjaer need to quickly show that he’s capable of delivering the goods in the league, here and now.
A defeat at home to Brighton wouldn’t necessarily be the end, but it could signal the beginning of the end for the Norwegian. Three points are essential.