Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Manchester United supporters are prepared to show patience with his long-term plans for the club.

United have won just three of 13 Premier League matches since their promising 4-0 victory over Chelsea on the opening weekend.

They could slide into the bottom half of the table if Jose Mourinho's Tottenham leave Old Trafford with all three points on Wednesday.

But the Red Devils boss claimed the fans he has spoken to understand the need to look beyond middling recent results.

"For me, I can just go on the evidence of the game days and supporters I've met," Solskjaer said.

"There are not many I've met that say: 'You've got to do something different.' They can see what we're trying to do.

"They know there's a lot of work being done behind the scenes – putting a culture into the team, what we're trying to do here, with what's happening here at Carrington.

"We just need results, that's the evidence for us. I just know I have a set of values and beliefs. The club have values and beliefs and I know that we have made these decisions together."

United drew at home to promoted Aston Villa on Sunday, a result that magnified the scrutiny on the team's development under Solskjaer. 

The Norwegian stressed the value of adhering to a vision amid a turbulent period in the Premier League that has seen Unai Emery, Mauricio Pochettino and Quique Sanchez Flores lose their jobs.

"I'm not going to tell anyone how to run their football clubs, but I think everyone knows continuity is one of the keys of success," he said.

"Some clubs have more patience than others, some clubs don't have that time and continuity. 

"For me, with Man United, we have a plan in place and hopefully we can get the results to speed it up. Sometimes it doesn't go at the speed you want to, but it's still going in the right direction. 

"There are different aspects to this – it's on the pitch, it's behind the scenes, it's what's happening in the club."

Jose Mourinho says he has every intention of playing an integral role in chairman Daniel Levy's vision for Tottenham.

The Portuguese took over the reins at Spurs on November 20 – just one day after Mauricio Pochettino's dismissal – and has overseen an impressive turnaround in fortunes.

His side have defeated West Ham and Bournemouth in the Premier League and came from two goals down to beat Olympiacos 4-2 in the Champions League.

Few believe Mourinho will stick around in north London for the long haul, but the former Manchester United boss insists he is invested in Levy's plans for the club.

"He [Levy] is the boss, he's the man with the vision," he told reporters. "He's the man that started with that vision more than a decade ago and now I'm part of the process.

"I want to participate in that vision and that ambition. The coach of the first team can have a real influence on that process and that is my job.

"For me, as a coach, I have to participate in many areas where the club can develop.

"Can I help in other areas? Can I have a little input? Can I contribute and be available to people that lead different areas in the club? If I can, good."

Mourinho takes his new side to Old Trafford on Wednesday, marking his first return to United as an opposing manager since he was sacked in December 2018.

He holds no grudges over his dismissal and insists he is a better manager for his two-and-a-half-year spell at the 20-time English champions, with whom he won the EFL Cup and Europa League.

"You win or you learn, you don't lose," he explained. "I feel my time there was good because I managed to win something. I learned and I think I am a better coach now.

"From my experience, the important thing is that after you are sacked, you don't blame anyone. You need to try and understand why, understand what you can do better and try to prepare for the future by analysing what happened in the past. That is what has happened with me."

Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho anticipates a warm reception from Manchester United supporters on Wednesday but says his time at the club is a "closed chapter".

Mourinho was sacked by United in December 2018 after a two-and-a-half-year spell in which he guided the club to EFL Cup and Europa League triumphs.

The Portuguese returned to management on November 20, taking over at Tottenham just a day after Mauricio Pochettino was dismissed by the north London outfit.

He has masterminded three consecutive wins across all competitions since his appointment and takes his resurgent side to United in the Premier League on Wednesday.

Mourinho – who has returned to Old Trafford as a television pundit this season – looks back fondly on his time at the club but says his focus is now solely on Tottenham.

"This is a closed chapter for me," he told a media conference. "I left the club and took my time to process everything that happened.

"I took my time to prepare myself for the next challenge. Honestly, Manchester United for me now is in my book of experiences; it's in my history book.

"I feel good. I like to play big matches; I like to play against the best teams and that is the most important thing. Going back to Old Trafford is to go back to a place where I was happy. I can say that I was happy. I have a great relationship with Manchester United supporters.

"I went back as a pundit, which is a different perspective. I was really humbled by such a beautiful reception.

"On Wednesday, I go back as the coach of the team that is going is try to beat Manchester United and that maybe gives a different perspective."

Tottenham have confirmed goalkeepers Hugo Lloris and Michel Vorm remain out with elbow and calf injuries respectively, while Ben Davies (ankle) and Erik Lamela (hamstring) will also miss the trip to United.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is confident Jose Mourinho will receive a warm reception from Manchester United supporters when he takes his Tottenham side to Old Trafford on Wednesday.

The Portuguese returns to United as a manager for the first time since being sacked by the Red Devils in December 2018.

He was appointed Tottenham boss on November 20 – just a day after Mauricio Pochettino's dismissal – and has steered his new side to three consecutive wins across all competitions.

Mourinho guided United to EFL Cup and Europa League triumphs during his two-and-a-half years in charge and Solskjaer has no doubts he will be well received on his return.

The Norwegian told a media conference: "[He will receive a] very good reception; that's just a testament to this club and these supporters.

"Of course, they remember the two-and-a-half years when he won trophies. So, for me, I'm 100 per cent sure our fans, staff and club will welcome him."

United have endured a difficult start to the campaign and are languishing in ninth after just four wins from their opening 14 games.

Solskjaer acknowledges his side must improve but does not think his players need the motivation of playing against their former boss to get back to winning ways.

"I don't think whoever the manager of the opposition team is will change [the players'] motivation," he added.

"They're motivated to do well for Manchester United, for themselves, for us as a group going forward. They also know it's about improving every day in training, but every time you step onto that pitch, it's a chance to be a part of this long-term.

"And that's always been the case at Manchester United when you put the shirt on; it doesn't matter who you play against, you've got to give it your all. The boys are a bit disappointed after Sunday [when they drew 2-2 with Aston Villa] but now it's all eyes on Wednesday."

Paul Pogba will not be fit for Manchester United's much-anticipated Premier League match against Tottenham, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has confirmed.

Jose Mourinho returns to Old Trafford on Wednesday as his improving Spurs side seek to secure a fourth successive win in all competitions.

United had hoped star midfielder Pogba would be ready for the marquee encounter but the France international has not sufficiently recovered from an ankle injury.

Scott McTominay, who also has an ankle problem, and the experienced Nemanja Matic are considered "touch and go" for the midweek fixture, which precedes Saturday's trip to the Etihad Stadium for the derby against Manchester City.

"Paul's not ready, no," Solskjaer said at his pre-match news conference on Tuesday.

"He's still a bit away but he's working hard. He's out on the grass, so let's see how long it will take."

As for McTominay and Matic, Solskjaer said: "They're touch and go. Let's get this training session out of the way. We've got more games than this one, so of course I can't look at just the one game. We have got to look at the long term.

"I don't want to talk about all the injuries we've had but when you get Scott back, when you get Paul back, we have been light in midfield with three out for such a long time and that's affected us."

Solskjaer has been unable to call on Pogba since the 1-1 draw with Arsenal at the end of September.

United have won five of 12 matches in all competitions since then and none of their past three, increasing the pressure on their Norwegian manager.

Premier League bosses Unai Emery, Mauricio Pochettino and Quique Sanchez Flores have all lost their jobs in recent times but Solskjaer denied being worried about his own circumstances.

"No, it doesn't make me more concerned, I’m just focusing on my job and that's doing as well as I can, looking forward to the next game, looking long-term to plan things with the board," he said.

"It's that time of year. It's never nice to see your colleagues lose their jobs in a very short space of time... sometimes you have luck, sometimes you don’t. But it doesn't make me any more concerned that it is December."

Real Madrid have made Fabian Ruiz their top transfer target.

According to reports, "negotiations have accelerated" as the Spanish heavyweights aim to take advantage of the disarray at Napoli.

But the midfielder also has high-profile admirers in England and France.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID STEP UP FABIAN INTEREST

Napoli midfielder Fabian is a man in demand.

Madrid appear to be in pole position, with Cadena SER claiming the Spanish giants are "very serious" about taking the 23-year-old to the Santiago Bernabeu.

Negotiations over a contract extension at Napoli are said to have stopped and the Spain international is reportedly warm to the idea of joining up with Zinedine Zidane's side.

However, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain could look to force a three-way bidding war for the Spain international, who has previously been linked to Barcelona.

ROUND-UP

- Ex-Valencia head coach Marcelino has emerged as a left-field managerial candidate for Arsenal and Everton, according to the Daily Mail. The 54-year-old lost his job at the Mestalla in September following a reported falling out with owner Peter Lim.

- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer fears he will be sacked if Manchester United lose their next two games against Tottenham and bitter rivals City, says The Sun.

- Former Premier League striker-turned-reporter Jan Aage Fjortoft claims Liverpool are favourites to land Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho – but the winger will cost the Premier League leaders €130million.

- Chelsea have offered little-used striker Olivier Giroud to Serie A sides Milan and Inter, according to CalcioMercato.

Barcelona are keeping tabs on 16-year-old PSG midfielder Edouard Michut, reports Le Parisien.

Liverpool have been drawn at home to Merseyside rivals Everton in the FA Cup third round, while holders Manchester City will start the defence of their title at home to third-tier Port Vale.

The Toffees face Jurgen Klopp's side on Wednesday in the Premier League and will make the short trip to Anfield for a second time this season during the first week of January.

Pep Guardiola's City thumped Watford 6-0 in last season's final and have been given a favourable draw to kick-start their 2019-20 campaign, with John Askey's League Two side pitching up at the Etihad Stadium.

Manchester United face a difficult away tie against Premier League rivals Wolves, who knocked them out of the competition last season's quarter-finals, while Arsenal welcome Championship leaders Leeds United to the Emirates Stadium.

New Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho takes his side to Middlesbrough, managed by former Spurs defender Jonathan Woodgate, and Chelsea host Nottingham Forest.

Ties will take place between January 3 and 6.

Mauricio Pochettino has opened the door for a quick return to management following his recent exit from Tottenham, saying he is open to listening to any offers put before him.

The 47-year-old was sacked by the Premier League club on November 19 after a difficult start to the season, with Jose Mourinho brought in as his replacement.

Pochettino returned to his native Argentina to unwind but is ready to step back into work should the right opportunity present itself.

"There are a lot of clubs and attractive projects for me to take on," he told Fox Sports Argentina.

"For the time being, the most important thing is for me to clear my head after five-and-a-half incredible seasons with Tottenham. 

"My aim is to seek the ability to rebuild myself and get my self-motivation back.

"It is my intention to return to manage in Europe. It is hard for me to imagine a project in Argentina. However, for the sake of my family, I would not refuse to work over here.

"But now I need to be calm for a few days and see what happens. I haven't had a lot of time to digest what has happened with me.

"My first decision was to come back to Argentina, return to my home and see family and friends. My best decision was to come to Argentina to switch off for 10 days.

"But I expect to return to Europe to make decisions on my future. At my age I don't need a lot of time to recover. I am open to listen to projects put before me."

Arsenal are on the lookout for a new boss following the dismissal of Unai Emery last week, while German champions Bayern Munich are without a permanent head coach.

Manchester United are also rumoured to be long-term admirers of Pochettino, who guided Tottenham to top-four finishes in four of his five full seasons in charge, as well as their first Champions League final in 2018-19.

In August 2018, Mauricio Pochettino guided Tottenham to a 3-0 victory over Jose Mourinho's Manchester United at Old Trafford.

In hindsight, it was a defeat that appeared to signal the beginning of the end for Mourinho at United, with the Portuguese coach sacked four months later, replaced – initially on a temporary basis – by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Pochettino was heavily linked with the United hot seat, but Solskjaer's impressive run earned him the job permanently. But while Spurs went on to reach a Champions League final, the Red Devils' form dropped off dramatically.

Now, 16 months on from that clash at Old Trafford, Mourinho returns to his former stomping ground for the first time since his December 2018 sacking, having taken over from Pochettino at Spurs – who dismissed the former Argentina international following a poor start to 2019-20.

Two 3-2 wins on the bounce in the league, either side of a 4-2 comeback victory over Olympiacos in the Champions League, have seen Tottenham climb up to fifth place, two points above United, who could only draw with Aston Villa on Sunday.

Can Mourinho show his old side just what they are missing, or will Solskjaer prove his credentials in a match over which the spectre of Pochettino could loom large.

 

THE 'SPECIAL ONE' RETURNS

Glory in the EFL Cup and Europa League made Mourinho's first year in charge of United a successful one, though those were the only major trophies he won during his stint in Manchester.

After finishing second – well behind neighbours Manchester City – in Mourinho's sophomore year, United's form tailed off at the start of the former Chelsea boss' final campaign in charge.

Their home defeat to Tottenham followed on from a loss at Brighton and Hove Albion, while they also went down to both West Ham and City as they suffered four defeats from their opening 12 matches.

A run of three successive draws against Crystal Palace, Southampton and Arsenal paved the way for a 3-1 reverse at Liverpool to result in Mourinho's departure.

But after almost a year out of management, he was handed a way back into the big time with Spurs, who seem rejuvenated – albeit still with some glaring weaknesses – and Mourinho is now aiming to become just the third manager to win a Premier League away game at Old Trafford with two different clubs.

United, on the other hand, have managed just four league victories this season and head into Wednesday's encounter without a victory in three matches across all competitions.

In fact, since Solskjaer was appointed on a permanent basis on March 28, United have claimed all three points in just six Premier League games.

HEAD-TO-HEAD: MARCUS RASHFORD V HARRY KANE

One shining light for United in recent weeks has been the form of Marcus Rashford, who seems to have taken up the mantle of leading the Red Devils' youthful attack.

Meanwhile, Harry Kane's goals were not enough to save Pochettino's job, but the England captain is still as reliable as ever when presented with a chance.

Both players are on seven league goals for the season, with Rashford's 14 appearances one more than Kane.

Rashford has also played slightly more than Kane in terms of minutes, racking up 1,219 compared to the Tottenham striker's 1,165.

Kane is proving more efficient, with the 26-year-old scoring his seven goals from a total of 36 shots, resulting in a conversion rate of 19.44 per cent, while Rashford's rate stands at 16.67 per cent.

Not much separates the pair in terms of goal frequency – Kane edging this one with a strike every 166 minutes, compared to Rashford's 174.

However, Kane is the clear winner when it comes to expected goals. By this metric, Rashford (8.66) should be on at least eight goals for the campaign, while his opposite number at Spurs has only been expected to score five goals from the chances he has had this term.

FORM GUIDE

Pochettino managed two draws in his final matches in charge of Spurs, meaning Mourinho's side are now unbeaten in four league games.

Should Tottenham win, Mourinho will become their first manager to win his first three top-flight matches in charge. 

Dele Alli seems to have recaptured his best form, scoring twice and providing an assist in the two Premier League matches since Mourinho's arrival – as many as he had in his final 12 appearances under Pochettino.

United's haul of 18 points from their opening 14 Premier League matches this season means the Red Devils have endured their worst start to a domestic season since the 1988-89 campaign, when they also had 18 points and went on to finish 11th.

Both United and Tottenham are equal in one sense, however, with both having dropped 12 points from winning positions in the Premier League this season.

HISTORY SAYS…

United's hopes will not be boosted by the fact they have lost three of their past seven home league meetings against Spurs, after losing only two of their previous 36 at Old Trafford.

However, Tottenham have lost more Premier League games to United than against any other side, though Mourinho can take solace in knowing the away team won in both top-flight meetings last season.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is hopeful of welcoming back either Paul Pogba or Scott McTominay from injury for the Premier League showdown with Jose Mourinho's Tottenham.

Pogba and fellow United midfielder McTominay were absent from Sunday's disappointing 2-2 draw against Aston Villa at Old Trafford.

United star Pogba has been sidelined since September with an ankle injury, while McTominay hurt his ankle in the win over Brighton and Hove Albion prior to the international break.

As former United boss Mourinho – who had a reported falling out with Pogba prior to his sacking in December last year – prepares to return to Manchester with his Tottenham side on Wednesday, Solskjaer provided an update on his midfielders.

"We have still got two days and we need to look at everyone here as well," Solskjaer told reporters when asked about Pogba and McTominay.

"We have only got two days, so let's see, but, hopefully, we can see one of them on the pitch. They are working hard behind the scenes."

United are languishing in ninth in the Premier League, two points adrift of fifth-placed Spurs – who have won both Premier League matches since Mourinho replaced Mauricio Pochettino.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted his Manchester United players lacked composure after Jack Grealish's goal gave Aston Villa the lead in a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford on Sunday.

The Red Devils turned the game around as Marcus Rashford forced a Tom Heaton own-goal and Victor Lindelof headed a second for the hosts, but Tyrone Mings plundered an equaliser to earn Villa a point.

The result left United with just two wins from their last nine Premier League matches and, while offering a reminder of the youthfulness of his team, Solskjaer pointed to a lack of composure during a disjointed first half.

"Any home game you'd want to win and you go into the game believing you'll win but you have to play an opposition and the first half wasn't good enough," said Solskjaer.

"Their first goal knocked us a little bit emotionally. We didn't find our composure until we got the half-time talk.

"The boys have character; they're young, there's loads of energy, they played [in the] second half miles, miles better of course but it's a game of two halves as everyone says.

"Poorly defended by us, we should have done better. But then again we have to learn from this. You say that after every goal you concede - there's little details that go wrong. We didn't go out together as a team."

United are ninth in the Premier League table, having lost four and drawn six of their 14 matches this season, and Solskjaer must prepare his players to face Tottenham at home on Wednesday before the Manchester derby at Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

The former Red Devils striker gave an upbeat assessment of morale in the squad ahead of a week that could have a huge bearing on a faltering season and his own future at the club.

"These boys will improve and learn from this experience," said Solskjaer. "Of course we, as Man United, as a club, we don't like to be in the position we are but that's the reality now and we just take one game at a time.

"We've got Wednesday, we've got a big game coming up on Saturday again so these boys are looking forward to every game. Sometimes inconsistency will happen with young boys, ups and downs.

"You see in moments we play some fantastic football and at times it's too open. We failed to control the game at times, but we can't do anything about that now.

"We have to keep improving; we have to be better. We have to work on us as a team and becoming a better unit."

If Manchester United's 2-2 draw with Aston Villa on Sunday highlighted one of their biggest concerns, the contest also put a spotlight on a potential fix in the form of the visitors' star man.

So plentiful are their issues that one could argue the starting XI against Villa requires as many as six upgrades to bring them even close to Liverpool's standard.

But one area in which they are woefully short is midfield. Paul Pogba aside, not one of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's current options would get near the line-up of Jurgen Klopp's Reds or Manchester City and, given his form this year, it would be difficult even to make a case for the Frenchman.

The emergence of an apparent interest in Leicester City's James Maddison makes sense and appears to indicate a desire to finally fix deficiencies in the number 10 position.

Some fans might suggest they have had the right man for that role since David Moyes signed Juan Mata in 2014, but for most of his United career he has been unfairly shunted out wide.

Any chance of Mata being a long-term answer has long since vanished, with his ineffective display against Villa doing little to suggest he is up to the task.

The one man on the pitch who did look capable of injecting much-needed impetus and swagger into this United team was Jack Grealish, and it is worth remembering Solskjaer identified Harry Maguire as his primary target on the back of a good display against the Red Devils.

"I more or less made my mind up when we played Leicester last season that if it's possible to get him [Maguire] we should try, because he's so composed on the ball and he gives the team another dimension," Solskjaer said of the centre-back earlier this year.

It is by no means unthinkable to suggest he could say similar of Grealish before the start of next season, as Villa's attacking midfielder was comfortably the best player on the pitch at Old Trafford.

While United moved forward with their usual predictability, as Andreas Pereira and Mata offered precious little craft, Grealish cruised around the pitch looking entirely at ease and completely convinced in his ability to dictate proceedings.

United certainly appeared aware of the threat posed by Grealish, fouling him four times in the first 24 minutes – Pereira and Fred resorting to cynical tactics to halt him.

Although frustration could be seen in Grealish's reaction each time, that soon disappeared once he was back on the ball, carrying Villa forward with purpose and drive.

While his dribbling ability is notable, Grealish also has the awareness to know when to offload quickly and when to hold on to possession.

His potential has never been a secret, but disciplinary issues blighted the early years of Grealish's career. Those problems are very much a thing of the past and a commanding performance at United – even if this a weak Red Devils side – is a solid indicator of a new-found maturity.

Grealish's goal, the opener, was a fine reminder of his technical excellence. Stepping inside Pereira to make space for himself, the Villa star curled an unstoppable effort into the top-right corner from a difficult angle.

He was then the instigator with a driving run up the left flank and pass into the danger zone when Trezeguet thought he had put Villa two up, only for VAR to rule it out for offside.

While detractors might point out Grealish only created one legitimate opportunity, it is hard to deny his influence in attack. After all, his 23 passes in the opposition half was the most among Villa players, and he completed 88.6 per cent of all passes and delivered six crosses.

He also showcased fine off-the-ball movement in the second half – an inability to get enough contact on the ball essentially denying him a second goal, but by no means did it ruin a solid outing.

Ask any United fan whether they would rather see Grealish or Pereira strutting about in their midfield, the replies would be unanimous and the Brazilian's cross for Tom Heaton's own goal would not be referenced.

Maddison may remain the ideal signing for United, but Villan Grealish proved he has what it takes to become a protagonist in the Theatre of Dreams.

Kelechi Iheanacho benefitted from a huge VAR assist as Leicester City continued to hang on to the coattails of Liverpool on a day when Arsenal started the post-Unai Emery era with a draw.

With Manchester City and Chelsea suffering unlikely setbacks on Saturday, Liverpool took the opportunity to extend their lead to 11 points and it appeared the Foxes were not well placed to cut that gap after falling behind at home to Everton. 

However, a last-gasp technological intervention sparked wild celebrations at the King Power Stadium as Leicester completed a come-from-behind 2-1 triumph.

Also on Sunday, there was more frustration for Manchester United and interim boss Freddie Ljungberg saw Arsenal twice come from behind at Carrow Road.


FOXES GRATEFUL TO VAR

Leicester were in danger at the break after Richarlison headed home to put Everton into a half-time lead, while Ben Chilwell saw a penalty for a trip from Mason Holgate overturned by VAR.

Jamie Vardy's neat strike – his 13th in the league this season – brought Leicester level, though, before drama ensued deep into second-half stoppage time.

Iheanacho latched on to Ricardo Pereira's excellent throughball and rifled his shot past Jordan Pickford, only for the linesman to curtail his knee-sliding celebration.

But a check with the video assistant showed Yerry Mina had played the striker onside to leave Leicester in outright second and pile more pressure on under-fire Toffees boss Marco Silva.


SAME OLD ARSENAL

Emery may have departed Arsenal but it was a familiar story for the Gunners defensively under Ljungberg.

Norwich stole ahead when Kenny McLean was afforded too much space to pick out Teemu Pukki, whose deflected effort beat Bernd Leno after David Luiz had backed off the striker.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang levelled from the penalty spot at the second attempt having been handed a reprieve when his first attempt was saved by Tim Krul, only for VAR to spot an encroachment.

Aubameyang levelled again in the second half but only after more poor defending had seen Todd Cantwell put Norwich in a 2-1 half-time lead. 


RED DEVILS STRUGGLE AT HOME

Manchester United were again off the pace in a 2-2 draw against Aston Villa, who led through Jack Grealish's stunning curling opener.

Marcus Rashford saw a header from Andreas Pereira's whipped cross cannon off the post and hit Tom Heaton on the back before nestling in the goal to bring United level and they led when Victor Lindelof nodded home in the 64th minute.

Just two minutes later, United were caught napping when Matt Targett clipped a second ball in from a cleared corner and Tyrone Mings volleyed past David de Gea.


DOHERTY PAYS TRIBUTE TO AFOBE

Two teams impressing in the top half of the table played out a 1-1 draw at Molineux as Wolves came back against Sheffield United – the visitors leading through Lys Mousset's second-minute goal.

Matt Doherty levelled in the second half and celebrated by kissing and raising his black armband, which was being worn in honour of former Wolves striker Benik Afobe, who announced the tragic loss of his two-year-old daughter Amora on Sunday. 

Tyrone Mings took advantage of Manchester United's sloppy defending to score his first Premier League goal as Aston Villa came from behind in a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford.

United had to chase the game after the impressive Jack Grealish opened the scoring 11 minutes into an error-strewn contest that saw the hosts equalise through a Tom Heaton own goal and then go ahead when Victor Lindelof scored for the first time this season.

Any hopes Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had of seeing his side protect the lead were dashed within two minutes as the unmarked Mings volleyed home an equaliser from close range to help Villa claim a share of the points their performance deserved.

The result leaves United with one win from their last four domestic outings and, with Tottenham arriving in midweek before the Manchester derby against City on Saturday, Solskjaer must address problems in a defence that has not kept a clean sheet in nine league games.

United started brightly, winning midfield battles and launching swift attacks through Juan Mata, but they were caught on the counter 11 minutes in.

Anwar El Ghazi's cross from the Villa right floated beyond United's defenders and landed at the feet of Grealish, who cut inside Andreas Pereira before launching a shot that curled over the rooted David de Gea and found the top corner of the net.

But United were let off the hook for a poor first-half performance when Marcus Rashford found space in the box as Pereira hung a tantalising cross at the far post and the England forward's header bounced in off Heaton's arm.

United increased the tempo after the interval and they had the wind in their sails when Fred's cross was flicked to the far post by Villa striker Wesley for Lindelof to send a header back across Heaton's goal and into the far corner of the net.

But nobody marked Mings as Villa poured forward and the England defender - played onside by Brandon Williams - connected with Matt Targett's chipped ball into the box, lashing home a low volley that beat De Gea for power.

Solskjaer sent on Jesse Lingard and Mason Greenwood to try and force a winner but Dean Smith's men held firm, with Heaton saving from Fred before the final whistle.

What does it mean? Solskjaer on thin ice

United's results are forcing their board to contemplate the reality of a finish outside the top half of the Premier League and, with bosses dropping like flies at rival clubs, Solskjaer likely needs December victories to save his job.

Grealish's swagger serves Villa well

The confidence with which Grealish set about finding holes in the United defence seemed to fill his team-mates with the belief that they could get a result and while comparisons with Eric Cantona might be kind on the Birmingham-born playmaker, his goal was reminiscent of the Frenchman in his pomp.

Pereira's cross fails to paper over cracks

There is no denying the quality of the cross Pereira delivered to tee up United's equaliser but the Brazilian was otherwise ineffective, providing neither grit nor guile and giving Grealish an easy ride.

What's next?

United have a tough week ahead, with games against Tottenham at home in midweek and Manchester City away on Saturday, while Villa travel to Chelsea on Wednesday before entertaining Leicester City on Sunday.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has time on his side at Manchester United.

Mauricio Pochettino's name looms large at Old Trafford but it seems the incumbent is going nowhere.

According to reports, Solskjaer will not be sacked regardless of whether United qualify for Europe this season.

 

TOP STORY – SOLSKJAER FREE FROM EUROPEAN ANXIETY

Failure to secure a top-six finish in the Premier League will not cost Solskjaer his job, reports the Daily Star.

United are struggling for consistency and appear destined to miss out on the Champions League places.

But while executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward is "long-time admirer" of Pochettino, he will reportedly keep faith with Solskjaer even if middling results end in the Red Devils missing out on Europe.

ROUND-UP

- Quique Sanchez Flores' ill-fated second spell in charge of Watford will result in his dismissal on Sunday, according to The Athletic.

- It could be one Spaniard out and another in at Arsenal. The Mirror claims Manchester City assistant Mikel Arteta is now top of the club's shortlist of potential replacements for Unai Emery.

- Everton want Bournemouth boss and boyhood Toffees fan Eddie Howe to succeed the under-pressure Marco Silva, reports the Mirror.

- Borussia Dortmund have dispatched scouts to watch teenage Sao Paulo winger Antony, says Goal, as the Bundesliga side line up a replacement for Jadon Sancho.

- Fiorentina have lost patience with Vincenzo Montella and are set to replace him with Gennaro Gattuso in a mirror image of the move Milan made two years ago. Calciomercato claims the change is imminent, with the Viola stinging from a 1-0 loss to Lecce.

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