Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has signed a three-year contract at Manchester United and visiting fans at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium exhausted the songbook to show the Norwegian their unwavered support despite a shock humbling.
Solskjaer oversaw the young Red Devils lose 4-2 to QPR in a pre-season friendly, on the day he committed his future to the club until 2024.
Sharp QPR were clearly ahead of United in their preparations as they brought unmatched intensity two weeks before the start of the Championship campaign.
Of course, results are secondary at this stage, but winning builds confidence and momentum and the manner of this defeat will concern Solskjaer as a youthful defence floundered.
Mark Warbuton’s organised, energetic side shell-shocked United with three brilliant unanswered second half strikes from Lydon Dykes (x2) and trialist Moses Odubajo.
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Bright Jesse Lingard earlier had his composed third minute finish cancelled out by a Charlie Austin header.
Academy graduate Anthony Elanga fired a left-footed effort into the bottom corner to reduce the embarrassment of the scoreline.
Conceding four goals against Championship opposition will be viewed as unnerving but Solskjaer can point to mitigating factors.
The Red Devils were without their three first-choice central defenders, made eight changes, and came up against a stern test in the fired-up Premier League promotion hopefuls.
But Solskjaer has been reminded time and time again of United’s lack of squad depth and the issue was highlighted against QPR.
United trialied a 4-3-3 system that they want to use in the new campaign, but Nemanja Matic struggled to maintain any control protecting the back four.
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It was a midfield that resembled a United side from 2018 as Andreas Pereria and Lingard joined Matic.
The Serbian veteran and Pereira showed they are not the future at United and the latter cannot even be utilised as adequate squad depth.
United require the signing of an assured central defensive midfielder to help make Solskjaer’s new system functional and bolster the quality in the squad.
And while the Red Devils would almost certainly not have been as vulnerable against QPR with their first-choice back four, an elite central defender, namely Raphael Varane, is still required.
“It is an exciting time for Manchester United, we have built a squad with a good balance of youth and experienced players that are hungry for success,” Solskjaer said after penning his new deal.
“I have a fantastic coaching team around me, and we are all ready to take that next step on our journey.”
That next step must involve silverware after United’s trophy-drought extended beyond four years with the Europa League final defeat to Villarreal.
But he was reminded of familiar issues against QPR and he cannot afford to continue to rely on forlorn stars who should be deemed surplus.