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Can Solskjaer bring the good times back to Manchester United?

The Norwegian is preparing for his first full season in charge.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is set for his first full season in charge at Man Utd (Martin Rickett/PA)
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is set for his first full season in charge at Man Utd (Martin Rickett/PA)

Youth. Courage. Success? Those three words were used by Manchester United upon the summer arrival of Swansea’s Daniel James.

Admittedly, the Old Trafford marketing team did not use a question mark at the end but right now you really need to as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer approaches his first full season at the helm.

In the midst of their latest rebuild post-Sir Alex Ferguson, United’s 1999 treble hero is the man entrusted with getting the club back to the top of the English game.

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was appointed United’s permanent manager in March (Martin Rickett/PA)

A surprise appointment as caretaker manager after the entirely predictable sacking of Jose Mourinho, the popular Norwegian’s hero status only grew during his record-breaking interim stint.

Unfortunately for Solskjaer it proved to merely be a honeymoon as the players grew tired and some heads dropped, meaning United somewhat fittingly ended the campaign with a home loss to relegated Cardiff.

The fact they ended as many points away from the Bluebirds as champions – and noisy neighbours – Manchester City highlighted the job at hand.

The long-awaited appointed technical director has yet to arrive but the acquisition of Welsh speedster James from Swansea looks shrewd, as does the the arrival of rapid right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

There remains issues to resolve in central defence, central midfield and on the right wing, but United returned from their pre-season tour of Australia and Asia with an air of positivity.

Comfortable wins down under against Perth Glory and Leeds were followed in Singapore by a 1-0 triumph against Inter Milan, when teenage sensation Mason Greenwood scored a fine winner.

The 17-year-old underlined his first-team credentials during the tour to the point where Solskjaer talked up his chances of starting the Premier League opener against Chelsea, before likening his development needs to that of Ryan Giggs.

Fellow United-reared youngsters James Garner, Tahith Chong and Axel Tuanzebe have shown signs of promise, while Angel Gomes grew as the tour has progressed and scored a superb winner in the 2-1 triumph against Tottenham in China.

Scott McTominay is another academy graduate to show his quality on tour, where a high-intensity, speed-based play has been honed during intense training sessions and impressive warm-up matches.

There has been a style, and at times a swagger, about United, who also have benefited from an on-form Paul Pogba as, despite his well-publicised comments about a summer move, the France international has knuckled down.

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Paul Pogba has been in form during pre-season (Martin Rickett/PA)

Solskjaer wants him to play a key role in the coming season, but while the Norwegian may not have to worry about Pogba, he still has plenty of questions to answer.

How does Alexis Sanchez fit into things? Will United manage to strengthen in key areas? When will David De Gea put pen to paper? Will Romelu Lukaku finally get his move?

They all feed into the key question about how well United can do off the back of a tumultuous season.

The youth and courage boxes certainly look likely to be ticked in 2019-2020. As for success? Well, we will have to wait and see.

PA

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