Manchester United 2 AC Milan 2 (5-4 pens): Ole Gunnar Solskjaer faces toughest week as manager as Utd struggle despite shootout win

OLE GUNNAR SOLSKJAER is facing the most testing week of his eight-month Manchester United reign as he prepares for a make-or-break season at Old Trafford.

The affable Norwegian is already feeling the heat after a disjointed summer of uncertainty.

He is still trying to put the finishing touches to a series of ambitious transfers which could lift the cloud of depression currently shrouding the club.

But with less than five days to go before the transfer window closes, he knows that time is rapidly running out to get things sorted.

Because as things currently stand, there is little to suggest that they are in much better shape now than three months ago when they trailed home 32 points behind Manchester City.

Solskjaer knows they are paying way over the odds for £85milion Harry Maguire, but given his central defensive alternatives it is not difficult to understand why United have caved in to Leicester’s demands.

The England international completed his medical on Saturday and will surely go straight into the starting team for next Sunday’s Premier League opener against Chelsea.

 Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is facing a make-or-break season at Old Trafford
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is facing a make-or-break season at Old TraffordCredit: AFP or licensors
 Marcus Rashford was back on the scoresheet in pre-season
Marcus Rashford was back on the scoresheet in pre-seasonCredit: Getty – Contributor
Yet even Maguire’s arrival will not address United’s soft centre while they continue to give the ball away so cheaply in the middle of the pitch.

No-one was more culpable than Nemanja Matic, who gifted Milan their 25th-minute equalizer when he carelessly conceded possession on the edge of his own area for former Liverpool striker Suso to score.

Scott McTominay was not much better and it is hard to believe that a club of United’s stature cannot come up with someone better.

They do, of course, still have Paul Pogba but nobody at the club seems to know if he will still be on board this time this next week.

The £89million Frenchman has made no secret of his desire to join Real Madrid but is starting to fear that his dream move to the Bernabeu is not going to materialize.

The Spaniards are certainly in no mood to meet United’s £160million valuation of their enigmatic midfielder and are reportedly lining up Ajax’s Donny van de Beek as a cut-price alternative.

Quite how the unpredictable Pogba reacts to that remains to be seen, but United fans will not be encouraged by the ‘back spasm’ which once again ruled him out of this game.

 AC Milan had gone ahead in the second half following Lindelof's unfortunate own goal
AC Milan had gone ahead in the second half following Lindelof’s unfortunate own goalCredit: PA:Empics Sport
 Jesse Lingard ensured the clash would go to a penalty shootout
Jesse Lingard ensured the clash would go to a penalty shootoutCredit: AFP or licensors

Romelu Lukaku was also conspicuous by his absence in Cardiff’s Principality Stadium as United work to offload the Belgian international striker to Juventus or Inter Milan.

But Juve striker Paulo Dybala doesn’t exactly seem thrilled about moving to Old Trafford in a straight swap deal while Inter has unsurprisingly balked at United’s £75million asking price for Lukaku.

And then there is £500,000-a-week Alexis Sanchez, who injured himself on Copa America duty with Chile and does not appear to be in any rush to return to action for Solskjaer.

At least the United boss can take some comfort from the pre-season form of Marcus Rashford, who fired his team into a 13th-minute lead when he cut inside two Milan defenders before unleashing an unstoppable shot into the far corner.

Jesse Lingard also provided cause for optimism when he struck a 71st-minute equalizer from Anthony Martial’s well-weighted pass.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka continued to impress as a raiding right-back while David De Gea wore the captain’s armband with distinction when Milan threatened to get on top in front of a sell-out crowd.

Yet even De Gea was unable to intervene when Victor Lindelof inadvertently diverted Samu Castillejo’s 60th-minute header into his own-goal.

 Suso took advantage of a terrible error by Matic
Suso took advantage of a terrible error by MaticCredit: Reuters

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