The unequivocal support of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer within Manchester United is slightly bizarre yet also very real.
To date, no matter the situation or crisis he appears to be faced with, there has been no danger of the Norwegian losing his job.
In the hours since that humiliating 4-2 defeat to Leicester City that same message has been relayed. The United board remain fully behind the man in charge and have faith that he will deliver success in the shape of silverware.
Chelsea continue to reap the rewards of that transfer ban – The Warm-Up
With so little evidence to support this belief, we can only assume the combined vision of Solskjaer and those in charge of the club is so entwined that trying anything else seems too big a risk at this stage. Insiders say private conversations within the club have led to a greater insight to the end goal and, ultimately, the board see something in Solskjaer that a fan or pundit never will.
Their confidence in him on the back of a start to the season that has included four defeats and two draws from 11 matches, though, is extraordinary. Very few managers, if any, could have survived in this job as long as he has with the same record. Yet every knowledgeable source around United delivers that same message: “There is full support of him”.
- Rashford camp upset after Solskjaer urges striker to 'prioritise football'
- Opinion: Only a matter of time until Solskjaer is sacked as Man Utd boss
Wednesday night’s Champions League fixture with Atalanta is key for Solskjaer as the match-going fans are beginning to lose faith for the first time. Until now, Old Trafford has been complete, too, in support of the boss. Yet the tone changed after the defeat to Leicester and that feeling of concern will deepen if they lose a key European game that will leave their chances of reaching the knockout stage in severe doubt.
Failure to make it out of this group has to be seen as a failure - and perhaps would be the first time Solskjaer has to accept that he is underperforming.
This is now his team, playing his way, after all. Yet still, even defeat to Atalanta is very unlikely to lead to the club considering a change of manager.
United are not actively looking for a Plan B but are obviously aware of the situation they would be faced with in replacing their current boss.
Only two men are being even vaguely considered worthy of taking over if Solskjaer was to leave. Those figures are Antonio Conte and Zinedine Zidane.
Antonio Conte and Cristiano Ronaldo amid links of the Italian moving to Old Trafford
Image credit: Eurosport
Conte, in particular, is understood to be very keen on the idea and would love the chance to pitch his ideas on how to turn this current team into winners. Both him and Zidane certainly have a certain pedigree to their name yet both completely lack any attachment to United - and that is one of the underlying factors that is keeping Solskjaer so safe.
The board and owners love his deep-rooted connection and the fact he is engrained in their history from his playing days. “He’s United through and through,” is how one source helped describe why Solskjaer is considered so important to their direction right now.
In his defence, this team is much better than the one he inherited from Jose Mourinho and there have been signs that they are on their way back to being one of the best teams on the continent. That has, of course, been helped by the level of investment in big-name signings, though, and so far he seems to be struggling to bring together a collection of individuals and turn them into a team.
United handed Solskjaer a new three-year contract in July, with the option of a further year. At a time when major changes are happening at the club - executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward is stepping down soon – United do not want the hassle of changing manager and rocking foundations that have just been built.
Yet soon the club may be faced with something that has not yet been a problem since Solskjaer took over. They may have to deal with disgruntled fans inside Old Trafford.
In his defence, Solskjaer usually delivers a big win when he needs to ease pressure on himself. If that is going to happen this time then it will indeed be impressive.
After the Atalanta game, United face Liverpool at home, Tottenham away, Atalanta away, and then Manchester City at home.
Their European and domestic credentials are on the line, and this really does feel like the most significant test so far of Solskjaer’s resilience.
Ibrahimovic says Man Utd 'talk too much about the past'
‘Now I’m dead’ - Reguilon reveals Conte’s gruelling tactics after Tottenham beat Leeds