While it’s obviously still early days, Manchester United are beginning to see encouraging signs that sticking with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may have been a smart move after all.
The knives were out for the Norwegian coach following back-to-back defeats against Liverpool and Burnley in January.
Reports linking Mauricio Pochettino and other managers with the United job intensified but Solskjaer remained calm and confident in his ability to get things right at Old Trafford.
Since the 2-0 defeat to Burnley on January 22, United have gone 10 matches unbeaten, winning seven and drawing three of those fixtures.
The Red Devils subsequently find themselves fifth in the Premier League table, just three points behind fourth-placed Chelsea. Furthermore, Solskjaer’s side are through to the Europa League last 16 and the FA Cup quarter-finals.
On Sunday afternoon, the crowd inside Old Trafford was bouncing at full-time as United sealed a hard-fought 2-0 victory over local rivals Manchester City.
Ask United fans whether they’d stick with Solskjaer now and the vast majority would almost certainly say yes.
Not only are results and performances improving, but supporters and the players are all happy and optimistic right now. Suddenly things are looking rosy again for the Premier League giants.
Solskjaer may have a ‘Mr. Nice Guy’ reputation but like his mentor, Sir Alex Ferguson, the 47-year-old is proving that he possesses his own – albeit tamer – ruthless streak.
Neither Jesse Lingard nor Andreas Pereira were in the squad for the City game. Both players have come under fire from fans in recent times due to underwhelming performances.
And Dan James may also find his position in the starting line-up under threat unless he improves over the coming weeks.
The Welshman enjoyed a blistering start to his Old Trafford career following his £15 million move from Swansea City last summer, scoring three goals in his first four league appearances for the Red Devils.
But he hasn’t found the back of the net since scoring against Southampton on August 31, while his last assist came in a 2-0 win over Burnley on December 28.
The Welshman should have added to his six league assists against City in the second half.
After some good work down the right wing, James spurned the opportunity to cut the ball back to the in-form Bruno Fernandes, much to his manager’s frustration.
Watch the incident here…
And Solskjaer’s reaction to James’ failing to square the ball has been widely praised by United fans on social media. They were equally as frustrated as the United boss at the time.
It’s rare to see Solskjaer that angry but he knew this missed opportunity had the potential to cost his team.
In order to play week-in, week-out for a club like Man Utd, you need to consistently make the right decisions during games.
But James’ decision-making isn’t his strong point right now.
That may come in time, though, and it’s important to remember that he’s only 22 and in his debut season at a massive club.
However, there will always be another player waiting in the wings to take your place at a club like Man Utd.
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