Being one of the biggest clubs in the world means you are always going to be spoken about in extremes.
After opening their Premier League campaign with a thumping 5-1 victory over Leeds there was serious talk of a Manchester United title push.
The shock signing of Cristiano Ronaldo and a brace on his debut against Newcastle again had people suggesting a first league title since 2013 was on its way back to Old Trafford.
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Just a few weeks on and a run of one win in six in all competitions that has featured a Carabao Cup exit and a humiliating Champions League defeat, and discussions over the future of manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer have intensified.
Returning from the latest international break, United are staring down the barrel of a tough run that some are saying could make or break their season, as well as decide the fate of Solskjaer.
A tough trip to Leicester precedes a Champions League clash at home to Atlanta before arch rivals Liverpool arrive at Old Trafford the following weekend.
A week later is a trip to Tottenham and the return game in Bergamo before Manchester City show up for the derby at the start of November.
Even if United were in form this set of fixtures on paper would present a tough test. For a team that has been battling for consistency in performances since Solskjaer replaced Jose Mourinho in 2018, it is a daunting prospect.
While setting a minimum requirement seems unduly harsh, it’s clear that United cannot afford too many negative results in the coming months if they are to retain ambitions of success this campaign.
For Solskjaer, who has faced speculation over his future in the past, a poor return may or may not deal him a fatal blow but it would certainly leave him rocking.

The pressure is on Solskjaer

Image credit: Getty Images

However, one quality he has shown as a manager so far, famously much like when he was a player, is his refusal to give up and he will be hoping his team will be ready to also come out swinging with him.
Of course, there was 1999 and all that but similarly, last season at around the same stage, it looked as though Solskjaer was in trouble when the team found themselves in 15th place after just six games.
However, a strong winter run saw the Norwegian rally the team to an eventual second place finish and Europa League final.
The upcoming fixtures look tough but United have every reason to think that the run might not be as daunting as first appears.
Leicester themselves are finding life difficult this season and look some way off the team which only narrowly missed out on Champions League qualification in the past two seasons.
Brendan Rodgers’ FA Cup and Community Shield winners will be looking to get their season going against United but with no form to speak of so far and a defence currently leaking goals in the absence of Wesley Fofana, United might be facing the Foxes at the right time.
Much like Leicester, Atalanta have had a stuttering start in Serie A so United will back themselves to keep their European hopes alive against the Italians.

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Tottenham are experiencing a strange season under new manager Nuno Espirito Santo and have already suffered some embarrassing defeats so far as the Portuguese manager tries to find the right formula for his team.
What shape they will be in by the time United arrive is anyone’s guess, and Solskjaer will hope he can maintain his record of one defeat in five against Spurs – mind you, the one defeat did come in last season’s 6-1 thrashing which he will be keen to banish any memory of.
The two games against hated rivals Liverpool and City will undoubtedly be tough, especially considering how terrifying both can be at their best.
That said, a raucous Old Trafford on both occasions could be a factor that works in United’s favour as, after more than a year away, fans will be almost maniacal with their desire not to lose to either of those two teams.
Solskjaer will again hope his unexpectedly good record facing Pep Guardiola will continue.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Image credit: Getty Images

Whether these games define his future remain to be seen and it is unquestionably a difficult period for a team in need of inspiration.
However, they won’t and should not go into any match as underdogs and the predicaments of their respective opponents will also have a part to play.
There may be those who fear for Solskjaer ahead of these fixtures but it would be a brave person to bet against him defying the odds once again.
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