When Sir Alex Ferguson explained his approach to building a squad and a football club to Harvard Business School in 2012 he could have been talking about a different era.

Ferguson said his first thought upon arriving at Manchester United was "building a football club". Now managers simply don't get the time to do that. They might have grand designs on reshaping the club, but those long-term plans can easily be derailed by short-term failures. Poor results will cost a manager a job earlier than ever before.

Yet Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is probably one of the few managers in the modern-day in a similar position to Ferguson in 1986. United's attempts to replace the Scot have gone from the calamitous to the misjudged and now they are determined to give Solskjaer time to restore some of that old fashioned Ferguson magic on the club.

It's clear from listening to him speak how clearly Solskjaer's ethos and values as a manager have been guided by his time working under Ferguson. Ever since being given the job permanently 13 months ago, Solskjaer has spoken of a long-term project at Old Trafford, a rebuild of the squad and a recalibration of what United are about.

Two transfer windows in, the rebuild is progressing swiftly. All five signings made by Solskjaer have made significant contributions and results and performances are encouraging.

There is still more to do, as Solskjaer has admitted, and that will include an assault on a vulnerable transfer market this summer. But the Norwegian must remember one of Ferguson's founding principles when he attempts to add the finishing touches to his United squad over the next 12 to 18 months.

"I wanted to build right from the bottom. That was in order to create fluency and a continuity of supply to the first team. With this approach, the players all grow up together, producing a bond that, in turn, creates a spirit," Ferguson said in 2012.

"When I arrived, only one player on the first team was under 24. Can you imagine that, for a club like Manchester United? I knew that a focus on youth would fit the club’s history, and my earlier coaching experience told me that winning with young players could be done and that I was good at working with them. So I had the confidence and conviction that if United was going to mean anything again, rebuilding the youth structure was crucial. You could say it was brave, but fortune favours the brave."

Like Ferguson, Solskjaer inherited an ageing side. He's rapidly lowered the average age of the squad, through the departures of several players the wrong side of 30 and a focus on signing players in their mid-20s and younger. This season's United team has had a youthful flourish that has been missing for a couple of years.

Solskjaer has also been fortunate. As the first team has floundered post-Ferguson, so has the academy. Relegation from the top division of Premier League 2 was an embarrassment and the recent record in the FA Youth Cup was poor. But things are back on track, promotion in Premier League 2 is a distinct possibility and United had reached the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup before the football season was suspended.

In Brandon Williams and Mason Greenwood Solskjaer has already been rewarded for placing faith in youth. The teenagers have both enjoyed breakthrough seasons, with Williams now a reliable first-team squad member and Greenwood looking destined for the very top.

Former United academy coach Paul McGuinness once said that Ferguson would judge young players in defeat, rather than during winning runs, and in the way that Williams and Greenwood have coped with what has, at times, been a turbulent season can only have impressed Solskjaer and his staff.

Those two have thrived because they've been given opportunities to do so. Places in the squad were left open for them to step into and they've relished the opportunity.

Now, as he continues to strengthen his squad, Solskjaer should continue to do so with one eye on the next generation. United's performances in age-group football this season have suggested that this is another fine generation coming through at Carrington.

Shola Shoretire, 16, is highly-rated, while new recruits Hannibal Mejbri and Dillon Hoogewerf, both 17, also appear destined for fine careers at the top of the game. All need to know there is a pathway for them at Old Trafford, and if they do know that they could well save United millions in the future. The same can be said of the likes of Teden Mengi, James Garner and Dylan Levitt, as well as many more.

Solskaer has shown faith in youth that someone given time to remould the club can do. Now he must continue to build the top layer of his United squad with one eye on those coming through the academy.