Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer of Manchester United (Image: 2019 Manchester United FC)

If Ole Gunnar Solskjaer thought the start of the season was tough — and for Manchester United, it has been — then it’s about to get even tougher.

All sorts of questions about United will soon be answered with more clarity. About the depth of their squad, the experience they may be lacking and the fitness regime that Solskjaer has implemented. Among others.

Over the course of the next seven games, which take place over just a 22-day period, United will be given surely their toughest test of the Solskjaer era.

The Norwegian has already shown a willingness to adapt, with both tactics and personnel, as Scott McTominay revealed at the start of the season: “There’s no first name on the team-sheet and there’s no given they’ll play in every match — that’s the sign of a healthy dressing room.”

So what are the team changes over the next seven games that Solskjaer must make?

Sept 14: Leicester

The hectic period begins this weekend for United against Leicester and you’d suggest Solskjaer needs to change things up from his side’s last outing.

United were stagnant and sloppy during that 1-1 draw at Southampton and perhaps the manager needs to rediscover the formula that saw his side sweep away Chelsea.

Andreas Pereira notched an assist that day and could perhaps come back into the No.10 role for the Leicester game, which could be similar in style to the Chelsea encounter. Although Luke Shaw could still be out with injury, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Anthony Martial and and Jesse Lingard could all be available. The team below would be just one change from the Southampton game, Martial coming in for Juan Mata.

Sept 19: Astana

The Europa League commences at Old Trafford with the game at home to Astana and this is where Solskjaer must begin to use the breadth of his squad. He has so far kept Mason Greenwood away from the starting side, with Angel Gomes, Tahith Chong and James Garner all made to remain patient as well.

But with United expected to stroll past Astana, Solskjaer must make changes. Sergio Romero should be the keeper for the Europa League, Diogo Dalot should be available to make his first start of the campaign and youngsters will feature aplenty. This team should feature 10 changes from the Leicester game.

Sept 22: West Ham

United will find their fixtures are stacking up thick and fast by the time this visit to the London Stadium — a ground they have found tricky in recent years — comes around. They will hope Shaw is available again after injury.

United have lacked midfield control in their away fixtures so far this season, so it could be that either Fred or Nemanja Matic comes in as an extra midfielder as the only player retained from the Europa League fixture three days earlier, with 10 more changes possible.

Sept 25: Rochdale

At least United’s Carabao Cup exertions this season will take place on either Tuesday or Wednesday nights. And with the Arsenal clash on Monday night, Solskjaer’s troops will have a healthy five days between fixtures after taking on Rochdale at Old Trafford.

Nevertheless, this will be another opportunity to blood youngsters and a whole heap of changes from Solskjaer will be forthcoming. We could finally see both Garner from the start in midfield as well as more opportunities for Dalot and Axel Tuanzebe. The cups will be important for United this season, if their league position continues to be a concern.

Sept 30: Arsenal

United’s toughest assignment of this period — on paper at least — will come when Arsenal visit Old Trafford for a mouth-watering Monday night football clash at the end of the month.

Ironically, though, it could be exactly this kind of game that suits United in their current state under Solskjaer. The Norwegian’s favoured 4-2-3-1 and counter-attacking style ought to provide big problems for the Gunners’ fragile defence. James, Rashford and Martial might have fun, though Arsenal’s stylish midfield will be a danger, too. Solskjaer should fill his team full of pace.

Oct 3: AZ Alkmaar

It will be back to the Europa League for United on the following Thursday and perhaps a tricky game against Dutch outfit AZ.

The away European trips will certainly be tougher for the Reds than their home games and with United’s penultimate game before another international break — and the shortest Europa League journey — Solskjaer might be best advised to avoid wholesale changes, but he might want to try Dalot in an alternative role on the right-wing.

He should pack the midfield, with Fred coming back in, and could maybe rest James.

Oct 6: Newcastle

The last game of this seven-match, three-week odyssey for Solskjaer and United will certainly be one of the toughest. And not just because it’s a trip to Newcastle. United’s squad may very well, by this stage, be affected by injuries and the rigorous nature of the schedule.

But assuming they still have everyone to chose from, the Reds must set up with as strong a team as possible. Fred, Tuanzebe and Pereira will have been among those to push for a place when handed opportunities in the Europa League and Carabao Cup, but this might be the perfect time to give Greenwood his first Premier League start of the season.

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