Within one week, Manchester United have beaten two of the best teams in the world. The 2-1 win in Paris against Uefa Champions League finalists Paris Saint-Germain, diligent in its tactical diversity and deserved, delighted the fans – not that any could be there to see it. RB Leipzig, the Bundesliga toppers who went unbeaten away all of last season on their way to the Champions League semi-finals, were demolished 5-0 by United. Both performances were exceptional – and unexpected. Both saw changes which were criticised before the game and praised afterwards. Indeed, United fans were full of doom when the Champions League draw was made: plenty predicted a quick return to the Europa League. You don’t hear so much of that now after successive triumphs against the best teams in the group. Not only did United get back into the Champions League – to the relief of their accountants – but they’re doing well in it. United’s next two European matches are against Turkish champions Başakşehir Istanbul. Win one and draw one and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will have the 10 points he thinks will be enough to secure qualification to the knockout stage. The Premier League table doesn’t make for such positive viewing for United and there are still major issues with rescheduling of games. Everton at home on Saturday, November 7, is now a 12:30pm kick-off, following the 9pm kick-off in Istanbul less than 60 hours before. The club find it difficult – as was shown against Chelsea last week following Paris – after midweek away Champions League labours. Such views are unlikely to be made public since television money is so important to the club’s bottom line. Alex Ferguson remarked: “When you shake hands with the devil you have to pay the price. Television is god at the moment and broadcasters have too much power.” They have even more power nine years since he said it, though there was a backlash against the price of £14.95 (HK$150) for pay-per-view games. These factors may disguise the details that Solskjaer is getting right – his man-management, for one. Players appreciate him backing them publicly, even if he has sterner words in private. Mason Greenwood was defended by his boss last week – and delivered with a goal in his first ever shot in Champions League football. New signing Donny van de Beek was kept onside with public praise because there was no issue with him beyond outside talk that he wasn’t playing so much. The Dutchman delivered an intelligent performance against Leipzig in his first Old Trafford start. Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic and Juan Mata have all been rested – or dropped if you want a negative spin – recently. All sat supporting rather than sulking from the sidelines. Similarly, Scott McTominay and Fred were kept out at the start of the season and now both are golden boys after solid shifts against top teams. Axel Tuanzebe was exceptional in Paris and then featured against the Germans. Solskjaer is rebuilding Manchester United and wants two top players for every position. Despite encouraging results, his plans still need time. There have been bumps and inconsistencies and these will continue, but the players are getting back to full fitness after a short, disrupted preseason. If they met Crystal Palace, who won at Old Trafford on the opening day, again on Saturday then there’s a feeling among players that they wouldn’t be caught cold or outplayed. They need to prove that on the pitch. The view among the coaches is that United are still way off the squad depth enjoyed by Liverpool and Manchester City; that new players are still needed, but that progress is clear. United are winning games and their midweek record since January is impressive. A winning culture is back – and needs to continue in Sunday’s game against Arsenal . Defender Luke Shaw knows that Alex Telles can take his place, but he’s been superb since the increased competition. The defence, including goalkeeper David de Gea, have improved following a wretched start to the season. It’s not perfect. There are still players on United’s books with vast contracts who do not feature in Solskjaer’s plans, but it’s getting better. Compare that to a year ago when Solskjaer had little option but to play Andreas Pereira and Fred most weeks, two players short on confidence at the time. Success isn’t linear and never has been. Ferguson’s first five seasons saw his team finish 11th, 2nd, 11th, 13th and 6th before 23 years of top three finishes. Increased wealth among rival clubs means we are unlikely to see that consistent high level of finishes again, but Solskjaer is planning for the long term and this has always been so. His team are genuinely entertaining to watch often enough to say the football is better than under previous managers. They’re young too – a mixture of home-grown heroes in waiting and imported talents. Amid an increasingly grey world, there’s much to feel bright about if you’re a Manchester United fan.