Now they need to prove this stonking 5-1 win was no flash in the pan.
Great goals, scintillating football and reconnecting with the fans is a way to make a statement first match post-Jose Mourinho.
There was something in the South Wales air late on Saturday, as the locals partied hard in the bars and clubs of Cardiff.
They were toasting Christmas, United’s players and fans were celebrating getting their club back.
Paul Pogba climbed in to the crowd to speak with the supporters, his team-mates gave away shirts as souvenirs and Solskjaer could hardly stop grinning.
Even Cardiff’s owner Vincent Tan got in on the act, waiting to get a photo with United’s interim boss in the club reception before he boarded the team coach home.
Judging by the reaction of everyone, you’d be forgiven for thinking these were the champions and not a £400million group of underperforming footballers who really ought to have been doing better.
What United must do now is be consistent, show they can be the real deal — starting on Boxing Day at home to Huddersfield.
Left-back Luke Shaw, one of those to endure conflict with the previous manager, said: “Under any circumstances, that’s how Man United are expected to play.
“At times it didn’t happen. But the team were very good here, very quick getting the ball forwards and we were more clinical.
“In games before we’ve had a lot of chances that could’ve maybe ended up with a scoreline like that. We didn’t take our chances and thankfully this time we did.
“We moved the ball quicker. Before the game we looked at how we could exploit them. We knew what their weaknesses were. The goals we scored were just magnificent.
“Rash’s free-kick helped settle the nerves. Then we carried on from there.
“They scored but we didn’t change anything. We carried on playing and the third goal was an amazing team goal.
“But the most important thing was we got the three points. The next four or five are very winnable games for us.
“We’re still in two cup competitions and we want the top four. We want to be playing in the Champions League next season and we want to focus on how to catch up. I don’t see why we can’t do that if we keep playing like that.
“But we can’t really be dropping points with the situation we’re in. We need to fight for every three points every time we play.”
Cardiff were blown away by a mixture of brilliant goals, poor defending and a first for this season — United actually outrunning their opponents.
Until now, every side the Reds had faced in the Premier League had covered more ground than them, a result of a mixture of conservative tactics and the general malaise sweeping through the squad.
Solskjaer knew that had to change — and midfielder Nemanja Matic revealed he had laid down the law to his squad already.
Matic said: “He is only two days with us but we had a few meetings. He said we need to play more forward, to be more dangerous in attack, to run more.
“To compete with every team — and that’s exactly what we did today. We’re happy.”
Marcus Rashford fired United ahead then Ander Herrera doubled it. But Cardiff got a sniff when Victor Camarasa converted a penalty after Rashford’s soft handball.
Far from being rattled United went for the jugular. Anthony Martial finished a slick move before Jesse Lingard struck twice after the break, the fourth from the spot after he was felled in the box.
It was a performance reminiscent of the old United, with Solskjaer’s positivity at the heart of it. But they need to do it week in week out to make a run for the top four.
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