sport news How Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can save his job at ?

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's heroics in the Nou Camp back in 1999 mean he'll always be afforded more patience from fans than most managers who sit in the Old Trafford hotseat.

But after 66,000 United fans witnessed their side completely outclassed by Manchester City in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final on Tuesday night, that patience was understandably wearing a bit thin.

There were plenty of boos and jeers as United left the field at half-time trailing 3-0 and thoroughly demoralised having seen City boss every aspect of the contest.

It was another chastening night for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his Manchester United side as they were outclassed by Manchester City in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final

It was another chastening night for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his side as they were outclassed by Manchester City in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final

Fred, Phil Jones and Jesse Lingard cut dejected figures as City pile on the agony on Tuesday

Fred, Phil Jones and Jesse Lingard cut dejected figures as City pile on the agony on Tuesday

So after the eventual 3-1 loss, coupled with a lacklustre 2-0 defeat at Arsenal on New Year's Day and an FA Cup stalemate at Wolves that saw United fail to register a shot on target, Solskjaer is back to square one again.

United are usually only one defeat away from a crisis but the nature of their mauling by City combined with their myriad other problems at the moment has speculation about Solskjaer's job security growing once more.

The name Mauricio Pochettino will be on the lips of fans and pundits alike as United blunder on, for the time being in four competitions but with scant hope of success in any of them.

So what is Solskjaer to do? The club continue to back the Norwegian both publicly and privately, putting their faith in his masterplan to gradually restore United to former glories, but where is the tipping point?

We take a look at what Solskjaer now needs to do to save his job.

Win ugly... but win at any cost

United have been infuriating this season when it comes to consistency. It is one step forward and two steps back all the time, a morale-boosting victory always followed by a miserable defeat.

They won 1-0 against Leicester but then went and lost at West Ham. A trio of victories over Partizan Belgrade, Norwich City and Chelsea in October was followed by a sorry defeat to Bournemouth.

A good run in December that included wins over Tottenham and Manchester City in the same week was followed by an atrocious 2-0 defeat at rock bottom Watford.

A positive run of results in December was followed by a chastening setback at Watford

A positive run of results in December was followed by a chastening setback at Watford

Encouraging wins over the Christmas period were followed by a lacklustre 2-0 loss at Arsenal

Encouraging wins over the Christmas period were followed by a lacklustre 2-0 loss at Arsenal

Now any optimism from festive wins over Newcastle United and Burnley has been blown away by three games without success.

Solskjaer won his first eight matches when he replaced Jose Mourinho on an interim basis in December 2018 but since then consistency has been a real problem.

United fixtures 

Premier League unless stated

Saturday Norwich City (H)

January 15 Wolves (H)

FA Cup third round replay

January 19 Liverpool (A)

January 22 Burnley (H)

January 29 Manchester City (A)

semi-final, second leg

February 1 Wolves (H) 

United need to rediscover the Sir Alex Ferguson art of just winning games at any cost - finding a way to win on an off-day, finding a last-minute winner, winning ugly.

It's very easy to look back at the Ferguson era with rose-tinted spectacles but a high percentage of United's wins had to be ground out against stubborn opposition. But they more often than not found a way.

It doesn't matter now how Solskjaer's United beat Norwich City on Saturday and Wolves in their FA Cup replay next Wednesday, just as long as they get over the line.

Their visit to Anfield to play Liverpool on January 19 is a free hit as nobody will expect them to beat the league leaders, then they face Burnley at Old Trafford three days later.

Win against Norwich, Wolves and Burnley and the mood will be transformed again - after all, United are fifth in the Premier League and just five points off the top four.

United are still fifth in the Premier League table, five points off fourth, despite their struggles

United are still fifth in the Premier League table, five points off fourth, despite their struggles

Inject urgency into transfer dealings

It was painfully apparent from certain performances in the first half of the season that United urgently need squad reinforcements.

But to everyone's surprise and the irritation of their fans, eight days into the January window, there are absolutely no signs of any imminent transfer business.

The position of executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and the United hierarchy is that finding value in January is exceedingly difficult and it's highly possibly nobody will be coming in this month.

Squad depth is evidently an issue and the intensity of the fixture schedule is only going to increase when Europa League football returns with the last-32 tie against Club Bruges next month.

Solskjaer needs to ask executive vice-chairman Woodward to sign reinforcements this month

Solskjaer needs to ask executive vice-chairman Woodward to sign reinforcements this month

Solskjaer must despair when United are trailing in games and he turns around to his subs bench to see a collection of squad deadwood and youngsters with just a handful of first-team games under their belt.

Defence, central midfield and up front must be the priorities if United are to do any business this month.

It's clear the strategy is to build for the long-term, as shown by last summer's signings of Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, but Solskjaer should be hammering on Woodward's door for some investment right now.

A couple of new faces through the door would improve the squad depth and hopefully revitalise things, even if it flies in the face of the long-term vision. 

United have been linked with Barcelona

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