Richard Buxton: Has Solskjaer taken Red Devils as far as he can?
EPL's caretaker bosses-turned managers have rarely worked out
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is now in rare, uncharted territory as Manchester United manager.
Support for the Norwegian remains unwavering in Old Trafford's corridors of power but concerns about simply muddling through are no longer bubbling beneath the surface.
Dressing-room disquiet has now become vocalised, with Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba publicly highlighting the Red Devils' need to break their vicious cycle of self-defeatism in the direct aftermath of last weekend's 4-2 reversal against Leicester City.
In the pair's own words, the 20-time English champions appear incapable of learning from the mistakes that culminated in the defeat at the King Power Stadium. It heralded the end of a record-setting run of 29 English Premier League away games without defeat.
Yet, it is more than the end of that streak which sees United in a state of permanent flux.
They head into tomorrow morning's (Singapore time) Champions League Group F encounter with Atalanta having racked up just two wins from their previous seven games in all competitions, including a languid League Cup exit to West Ham United.
Even their victories are punctuated by the mitigation of last-minute serendipity, courtesy of a Cristiano Ronaldo strike and Mark Noble's blundering penalty miss.
At this stage, sacking Solskjaer makes as much sense as persevering with him.
Potential losses to Gian Piero Gasperini's side and Liverpool this week would do little to alter that reality.
Equally, United cannot lurch between untapped potential and being abject forever.
Rehabilitating a team left dumbstruck by the abrasive nature of Jose Mourinho's tenure would always carry a limited shelf life for the baby-faced assassin in the hot seat.
But the Theatre of Dreams' perennial crisis has evolved into one devoid of clear direction.
Better managers than Solskjaer fell on their sword in the years which followed Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement.
None were able to unify a club fractured by two Champions League winners and the Scot's misguided anointment of David Moyes.
The 48-year-old is still a victim of circumstance after taking the reins as caretaker in the first instance.
Unfortunately for him, the EPL's recent history suggests that minding the shop does not automatically translate into running a successful footballing empire.
Liverpool and Chelsea, notably, are both armed with the bruising experience of falling into the trap by making nostalgia-induced appointments in Kenny Dalglish and Roberto di Matteo that failed to pass the acid test of longevity despite producing silverware.
Closer to home, Solskjaer can also draw on first-hand testimony from his assistant Mike Phelan, who did enough to earn a 12-month deal at Hull City after a credible interim spell at the start of the 2016/17 campaign, only to be sacked barely three months later.
A new three-year contract affords the former striker financial insulation against his own inevitable axing but little other comfort.
Ferguson's guiding hand, similarly, has been replaced with an unguarded critique of his former charge's refusal to play to United's personnel strengths.
Solskjaer's current stay of execution is beholden to a lack of suitable replacements.
Beyond the polarising option of Antonio Conte, attainable candidates are in increasingly short supply compared to the trouble-free courtships of Mourinho and Louis van Gaal.
Only when one is finally sourced can the 1999 Champions League final match-winner's prolonged goodbye reach its conclusion and United escape their torturous purgatory.
That process could take longer than even Solskjaer himself may have anticipated.