Richard Buxton: Wheels falling off Solskjaer's Man United
Red Devils have made their worst start in 30 years
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer overreached for the history books after Manchester United's latest defeat.
He took a break from summoning Sir Alex Ferguson and the spirit of 1999 following a 1-0 reversal to Newcastle United yesterday morning (Singapore time) and instead attempted to seek another reference from that storied and success-laden period of Old Trafford's past.
But the beleaguered Norwegian's impression of Eric Cantona was as unconvincing as the Red Devils' performance at St James' Park - their seventh defeat in the English Premier League since he was appointed full-time manager of the 20-time champions in March.
Cantona's famous quote about seagulls and trawlers was the enfant terrible's way of coming out swinging after being sentenced to 120 hours' community service for a kung-fu kick on a Crystal Palace fan in 1995.
Under his one-time teammate, United cannot punch their way out of a paper bag.
Solskjaer now holds the dubious distinction of the worst win ratio by any manager at the Theatre of Dreams in the post-Ferguson era with 48 per cent.
He has also presided over a winless run in the 11 away games since beating Paris Saint-Germain in March.
A celebratory photo of Solskjaer, Cantona and Ferguson raising clenched fists which went viral in the wake of that victory at Parc des Princes feels like an eternity ago as United's slip into mediocrity leaves them closer to the relegation zone than the top six.
Cumulative injuries and exiled individuals forced Solskjaer to send out a starting line-up on Tyneside that appeared mismatched at best and wholly unfit for purpose at worst.
Marcus Rashford, more than most, summed up their tribulations with an abject 21 touches of the ball throughout the game, which was just five fewer by Marcos Rojo after the defender had come on as a 60th-minute substitute for Diogo Dalot.
Few fared much better with Juan Mata enjoying two touches in the final third while Daniel James and Andreas Pereira sent in a combined five crosses but none of them on target.
Creativity appears to be in short supply for United. The same goes for their overall quality.
Under Solskjaer, United are now on their worst start to a season since Ferguson teetered on the brink in the 1989/90 campaign.
The legendary Scot's Old Trafford reign is indebted to a sliding doors moment that allowed him to build long-term success out of the jaws of defeat.
Substitute Mark Robins scored the winner in an FA Cup semi-final replay against Oldham Athletic, paving the way for them to win their first trophy under Ferguson.
His modern successor, however, is still hopelessly scouring for his very own Robins.
United's absence of battle-hardened players and effective super-subs offers little hope that Solskjaer will be able to turn their fortunes around.
No one was spared in his latest public broadside.
After their 4-0 hammering by Everton in April, Solskjaer had issued his first warning that some players would not be allowed to stick around if he was "going to be successful" at Old Trafford.
Winds of change were promised but only a light breeze ensued.
Of the 18 players who waved the white flag at Goodison Park barely six months ago, more than half were in the match-day squad that faced Newcastle.
A further five would have joined had injury not intervened.
How, when or even where things will begin to improve for United remains unclear.
Solskjaer's muddled words merely add to the downward spiral rather than help to remedy it.