For the second home Premier League game in succession Ed Woodward took his seat in the directors' box on Saturday lunchtime. The executive vice-chairman had been absent from Old Trafford since February, but the feelgood factor around Manchester United had smoothed his return recently.

Even Avram Glazer was in attendance two weeks ago, when United swept aside Newcastle 4-1 on the day of Cristiano Ronaldo's remarkable return. Approval ratings were through the roof then and United had genuine ambitions of a title challenge and a trophy this season.

But if a week is a long time in football then a fortnight is an eternity. Woodward won't have seen any hostility this weekend, but he would have been concerned about the defeat to Aston Villa.

Since sweeping aside Newcastle this side have lost three of their last four games, to Young Boys in Switzerland and at Old Trafford to West Ham and Aston Villa. The faintest sound of alarm bells are just beginning to ring.

All three defeats have been damaging in their own way. United are now on the back foot in a routine Champions League group and while successive home games against Villarreal and Atalanta are a chance to get back on track, they also represent tactical battles Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must win against experienced rivals in Unai Emery and Gian Piero Gasperini.

The Carabao Cup exit to West Ham will be a footnote to the season if United end it with silverware, but this competition represented a viable opportunity to win a first trophy in four years. Then came the defeat to Villa and a performance lacking control and conviction in what looks like being a tight title race, one where every slip up can be costly.

That trio of defeats has raised the pressure under which Solskjaer is working and restarted the debate around his suitability to take United to the next level. It's a discussion the Norwegian is accustomed to now and anybody expecting swift action from Woodward or the Glazers hasn't been paying attention.

Solskjaer still maintains their support and he still has the backing of match-going fans, even if doubts are beginning to creep in for some.

Tomorrow's Champions League fixture against Villarreal will be Solskjaer's 160th in charge of United, a tally he has managed to reach despite missing out on trophy-winning moments, most painfully against the same opponents in last season's Europa League final.

Yet you only have to rewind 11 days to find Woodward effusive in his praise of the direction United are heading in and while there was no mention of Solskjaer in his remarks on the investors' conference call, the inference was pretty clear. United have invested faith in the former striker, appointing him in the first place and handing him another three-year extension in the summer, and they've invested financially in his squad.

When Woodward spoke on that call - two days after the defeat to Young Boys which looked like an anomaly at the time - he sounded convinced the club were going places again in their bid to end a title drought that now stretches to eight years.

"We have been clear in our strategy to build a squad with a blend of top-class recruits and homegrown talent, comprising a balance of youth and experience, with the aim of winning trophies and playing attacking football the Manchester United way," he said.

"As part of this, we have continued to strengthen our recruitment and scouting processes, and we have also increased our investment in the academy, to ensure that this success is sustainable. While squad-building is a constant process, we are more confident than ever that we are on the right track."

It's going to take more than a couple of poor results to shift Woodward and the Glazers from their conviction that the path they've chosen is the right one.

From Woodward's comments about the squad, it is clear the role Solskjaer has played in setting United in this direction. Partings ways with a manager they've invested approaching three years in wouldn't necessarily mean a major deviation from that path, but it would represent a diversion, which is why Solskjaer will get plenty of time to put things right.