Manchester United winning run continues 5/5 (2)

Manchester United’s unbeaten run continues also in London. Rashford and De Gea effectively ended Tottenham’s hopes to push Liverpool and Manchester City for the title.

The leading duo continues to prove that Premier League will be decided between them. However, there is no shortage of fights down the table.

Manchester Utd’s new old face

After 5 successes on the trot, Solskjaer had his first maturity exam this weekend in London against Tottenham. For this occasion, the Norwegian care-taker relied on less adventurous tactics.

Manchester
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Some might argue that if United would present the same attitude under Mourinho he’d be crucified for negative approach. And rightfully so!

Even if performance at Wembley resembled what the team showed under the Portuguese manager, this time has a different story behind it.

Despite dominant and free-scoring displays in the last few weeks, Manchester United doesn’t have a clear identity and rehearsed mechanisms that Spurs have. Wins against mid-table oppositions were achieved due to superiority in class and quality.

But Pochettino’s team can match United’s quality, therefore, Solskjear had to revert to tactics best known to the squad; keep it tight at the back and hit on the counter.

De Gea miracles

With De Gea at his scintillating best everything is possible. A little “help” from the opponents is always welcome and with a bit of luck, you have all the ingredients for a joyful afternoon.

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Because, truth to be told, Tottenham perhaps had more to do with visitor’s win then United itself.

Pogba’s pass and Rashford’s finish were as good as you can hope for. The French midfielder later confessed that similar moves were trained during the week. If that’s true then hats off!

Anyway, without the unintentional Trippier’s assistance, it would never happen.

De Gea made 11 saves, big and small miracles, but can thank Dele Alli for one of them. Midway thru the second half, ironically after a counterattack, Alli came face to face with the Spanish goalie.

United’s keeper has to be given credit for not rushing his reaction however Alli had to take that chance. A player of his caliber has to score that kind of opportunity in every match. Even more so in such important fixtures.

Apart the goal, the Northern giants had a few good situations most notably with their prime star left to shoot from the edge of the box. It could cost Manchester the win if Tottenham managed to take advantage of one of the opportunities created.

It didn’t, Manchester United won and its winning run continues.

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Winning helps winning and with another month or so facing mid-to-low table opposition, the Red Devils have a great chance to catch Chelsea in the Champions League zone.

Liverpool’s struggles

Liverpool lost top-of-the-table clash against Manchester City which allowed Guardiola’s team to reduce the gap and ply pressure on Klopp’s men.

City deserved the victory abundantly and despite numerous absences to partially justify a submissive performance, Liverpool doesn’t have the squad to keep the pace.

Defeat at the Ettihad Stadium was followed by FA Cup exit at the hands of Wolverhampton. Two false steps in a row after 20 games in domestic competition without a loss.

The Reds redeemed themselves with a narrow but ultimately extremely important triumph at the weekend. As much for the points as for the morale!

Whereas Klopp can’t be satisfied with the teams’ performance. That’s 3rd consecutive under-par showing.

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Be it for congested fixtures, injuries or form loss, every team has its off period during a season. And Liverpool is currently in such cycle.

Accumulating points in times when your game isn’t at the very top is crucial to maintain title hopes.

Manchester City’s rise

Manchester City had its own dark period last month with a couple of somewhat undeserved defeats against Chelsea and Leicester City.

However, they picked themselves up and now produce the kind of football everybody’s expecting from them.

Unbeaten Solskjaer has every right to celebrate however needs to give his side an identity if he’s to challenge the big boys.

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Solskjaer manager leads MU comeback 5/5 (2)

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer achieved a historical result last night in Newcastle! Second manager in United’s history and first after Sir Alexander Matthew Busby to win 4 games on the trot after taking charge at the Theatre of Dreams.

Solskjaer

Taking control of the team just before the most hectic period in Premier League the baby-faced killer demonstrated what was clear to everybody; Manchester United doesn’t need new signings! All is needed is to let the team play!

Solskjear’s early success

It’s been a while since 12 points in 4 consequtive games have been seen in the red half of Manchester for quite some time. Especially not with such commanding displays and free-scoring!
Since Solskjaer took over the reins United scored 14 goals, half of what the same team managed in 17 games under Mourinho!

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And some of the goals were a genuine feast for sexy-football lovers! Goal #3 against Cardiff City, ironically Solskjaer’s only other club managed in England, was an exhibition of what the talent at disposal is capable of.
Neat first time passing, smart movement and clinical finishing. It probably is the best team goal United fans have seen in a very long time.

Naturally, to perform actions as such you need more than two players in opposition’s half. Another rare sight for the fans!
All of that happened only a couple of days after the legendary Norwegian took charge!

Solskjaer manager play

What could Solskjaer do in 2 training sessions? What magical advice, tactical genius twist or inspiring team talk could lead to such drastic change of play?
Simple, there isn’t any! There’s only one thing he could do and he did it; let the team play!

Attacking kind was the only kind of interpreting the game Manchester United ever knew. Stepping up, taking control, intimidate the opposition and ultimately getting what they want. That’s the United way!

Certainly, even under Sir Alex Ferguson, they didn’t win every game. That’s impossible. They did lose games but they were seldom beaten!
And that’s all the squad needed to hear. No accusations, personal resentments or serving as an example.

Solskjaer manager

Just go out there and play to your strengths. Keep the ball as much as possible, attack in numbers and don’t be afraid of mistakes. They’ll happen in any case.
Once out of possession press high and make them work hard to get near our goal.

Shortly, enjoy football!

Future success

For all fanfare surrounding Solskjaer’s initial prosperity, teams faced up to now weren’t on United’s level and winning those matches should be expected with virtually anybody on the bench. Well, almost anybody!

Nevertheless, the same squad managed 7 victories in nearly half-a-season. Therefore without the managerial change possibly another defeat and a draw would most likely occur since December 19th.

Solskjaer manager player

United played relegation-threatened teams and won more or less comfortably. Displaying long lost authority and creativity building up confidence and relieving public pressure.

Another similar match awaits them this weekend in FA Cup against Championship strugglers Reading. A side that hasn’t won in 2 months and has a total of 4 wins in English 2nd tier.

Considering Solskjaer’s team current form and high spirits, surely no contest. It is final fine-tuning before first real maturity test.

Maturity test

Sunday, 13th January, will give feedback what United can aspire to this season. A trip to Wembley to face Mauricio Pochettino and his well-oiled Tottenham (tickets available here)!

Solskjaer manager rival

A team that inflicted one of the largest defeats at Old Trafford in recent history earlier in the season.
Pochettino is tipped as possible future MU manager, openly pursued and held in extremely high regard by United’s hierarchy.

A good showing and possibly a win would surely increment Solskjear’s chances to keep managing his beloved club after current campaign is over.

He’s aware that any talks of such possibility will be held near the end if results will match set goals and expectations. Anyhow a win against one of the competitors would speak loudly.

After that, a run of apparently straightforward fixtures against mid-to-low table adversaries follows before next big test comes; Champions League clash with PSG.

Solskjaer manager rival 2

Till then Solskjaer will have to implement also some tactical improvements and possibly add a defender to the roster, if viable.

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Fortune favors the brave. Up to now, the new manager was courageous with team selection and game-plan applied. Will he maintain fearlessness also in key matches?

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Mourinho news; bye-bye 5/5 (4)

Mourinho is no longer Manchester United manager! The news has been awaited for long and finally it’s been shared.

Unless you’ve been out of this world the last few days you heard that Jose Mourinho has been relieved of his managerial duties at Manchester United. Self-proclaimed Special One lasted 2 and a half years at the helm but eventually everybody’s satisfied it’s over. Probably even himself!

Mourinho legacy

Mourinho smartly chose to take over after other managers got United fans used to disappointments.

The club had qualified for Europa League and played such boring football that even his teams would be ashamed of.

Mourinho

Shortly, he could hardly do worse then his predecessors!

In his first year he, as it turned out, rightfully targeted international success as his ticket to Europe’s prime competition, Champions League!

On the way he managed to take home additional 2 cups and by doing so made a flying start; 3 trophies and qualification to the most important competition. Job done and everybody’s cheering!

Everything was presented to be fine even if Premier league top was so far away United couldn’t see it with a binocular.

Second year demonstrated all the Portuguese’s appointment shortcomings. No attacking, sexy football. Or at least watchable! Consequently no trophies. Only reached target was Champions League qualification

Champions League second round exit against Sevilla was a warning which had to be taken seriously. But Mourinho, as usually, talked his way out of it and his tram continued with modest performances and likewise results.

He’ll always point out the trophies he’s won in his career and won’t acknowledge that times have changed and he also needs to.

Mourinho

His tricks just don’t bring important triumphs any more.

Team status

The team has its weak points which are need to be fixed but also heavily underused strengths. Quality is there, especially in the attacking area, that needs to be put in conditions to flourish.

Mourinho stubbornly insisted with negative football which isn’t suited neither to club and his history, neither to the roller-coaster at his disposal.

United’s future

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over. Club legend and scorer of one of the most important goals in club’s illustrious past.

Solskjaer

Managerial experience is missing, particularly at top level, but available group of players need somebody to let them play and not worry to much that a wrong pass will hurt manager’s feelings.

Perhaps people upstairs are trying to find inspiration in recent fortunes seen at Real Madrid and partially at Chelsea with Di Matteo’s appointment.

At this moment it’s fair to say that probably anybody would be better than the Portuguese!

Mourinho’s future

Even a conflicting character as him still has some elite suitors left in European football. Real Madrid president is keen to bring him back even if that would be an unpopular move with Blancos demanding crowd. And also with some of squad’s key figures.

Anyway it’s general knowing that Perez doesn’t listen too much and does things his way.

Mourinho

Other possible destination is Inter Milan. In Lombardi he has a divine status and virtually could return whenever he wants.

Both clubs are going thru rough patches and season could turn out non-satisfactory which usually means managerial change.

Portuguese football federation would let him in charge even part-time and without any limits. Past approaches weren’t successful but this time Mourinho could be the one to offer his services. And probably would be accepted.

There are numerous possibilities outside Europe for Mourinho but he’s a type of person that needs to be in the center of things and hardly will agree to ridiculous sums of money to settle for “big fish in a small pond” situation.

Eventually Mourinho’s adventure in Manchester ended in familiar and expected fashion. Some silverware at the beginning, little eye-catching football, a lot of controversy and public laundry washing, criticizing everything and everybody around him and inevitable sacking.

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