Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Manchester United have the strength to compete on all fronts this season following the signings of Cristiano Ronaldo, Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho.
Ronaldo made an instant impact on his second debut for the club on Saturday, scoring twice in a 4-1 win over Newcastle, and is in the squad that has travelled to face Young Boys when the Champions League campaign begins on Tuesday.
Edinson Cavani, Dean Henderson, Marcus Rashford, Scott McTominay, Alex Telles and Phil Jones are all absent, but United now have the depth to cope – the fruits, Solskjaer said, of a recruitment strategy outlined when he took the job a little under three years ago.
“We’ve had enough disappointments, that’s for sure, and some big moments as well,” he said. “But this team has grown and matured over the last few seasons. That was always the plan (when I came in), we said in three years’ time we’d have a squad with experience and quality that could challenge.
“With players like David (De Gea), Harry Maguire, who’s been here a couple of years, you get that spine in the team with experience and quality. With Raphael and Cristiano coming in, they add to that.
“It’s not the last bit, you can never say it’s the last bit, but it’s that something that you have to buy unless you’ve already won it yourself.”
Ronaldo’s impact has been instant and felt at pretty much every level of United.
Lee Grant may or may not have been joking when he claimed every United player had turned down dessert in the team hotel on Friday night under the glare of Ronaldo, but the five-time Ballon d’Or winner’s arrival changes the outlook for United.
A return to contention for the biggest prizes could also help persuade Paul Pogba, now in the final year of his contract but back to playing some of his best football, to recommit to a club he had previously seemed certain to leave.
“It’s up to us to get results and to prove to ourselves that we can win trophies,” Solskjaer said when asked about Pogba.
“I think everyone that signs for Manchester United wants to win trophies and be part of a winning Manchester United. It’s the most magical feeling in the world to be part of a winning Manchester United team.”
The start of the Champions League campaign sees the intensity of the schedule ramp up again, with many players just back from international duty.
But Solskjaer sees the quality required to cope throughout his squad.
“The players are fitter now and we’ve been very robust over the years and improved with the way we’ve dealt with the pandemic and with the games coming thick and fast,” he said.
“With the ones we’ve signed it makes it easier to rotate and I’ve definitely told the team that as well – I do trust all the members of the squad.”