This week, every Manchester United fan is happy. Hashtag ‘Ole in’ we presume.
After navigating a series of tricky games both at home and away, Manchester United sits in third with a game in hand. Win that, and they would be in second, two points behind Liverpool. We might have a title race in our hands, with Manchester United heavily in the mix.
Over the weekend, every fans’ fears and concerns were put to bed in the opening three minutes as Scott McTominay scored two brilliant goals to set-up what would eventually be a convincing 6-2 win at Old Trafford, a ground in which Manchester United had won just once – a 1-0 win against West Bromwich Albion – since the start of the season.
To emphasize this point: Manchester United are scoring goals for fun even with a misfiring Anthony Martial. Even Daniel James got on the scoresheet. Fun times.
Let us go back a bit. Two weeks ago. Manchester United just had to ‘not lose’ to qualify for the second round in the UEFA Champions League. What did they do? They lost! Woefully at that! The score-line flattered Solskjaer’s men, to say the least. Everyone wanted him out at that point in time. It is funny how things can change in the space of 13 days -or maybe, just maybe we supporters/fans/fanatics/pundits/analysts are just fickle-minded?
So what exactly is it with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer that makes fans and pundits alike so confused?
To begin with, Solskjaer has managed over 100 games for Manchester United now and up until recently, one could not really know what his preferences were. At this point, based on how the season is turning out, one would feel that he has finally decided to move on from the Paul Pogba selection headache and start him less and less. People could also argue that Pogba is being rotated, hence the epileptic starting selections. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.
Secondly, to continue with the first point, it is very difficult to accurately predict what version of Manchester United would show up on any given day. For instance, yesterday’s very emphatic win over Leeds United was very shocking and welcome at the same time, considering the fact that they had barely won at home, they did not score a lot of goals and -most importantly- they rarely ever started on the front foot.
Lose emphatically to Crystal Palace and Tottenham Hotspur at home, then have a stormer against RB Leipzig, then lose to (a very bad) Arsenal and Istanbul Basaksehir, then get knocked out of the Champions League when it was within your control to qualify, then potentially be two points behind Liverpool. It has already been a strange season for Manchester United and we are not even halfway yet!
Manchester United are past the glory days of Sir Alex Ferguson, which in lay man’s terms means that they will mostly not walk onto a pitch and expect to win a game just because they are Manchester United – and partly due to the peculiarity of this season.
Under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, they have a Manager that is gradually coming into his own now.
Will he win the Premier League? Most likely not. However, he would most definitely be part of the Manchester United story when the glory days return.