But what could have caused such a change in such a short duration? In the three matches played under Solskjaer, United has already scored 5, 3 and 4 goals respectively. It’s not only the goal count which matters, but it is also the way the team played and scored those goals. Anyone who would have been watching United play in the recent past knows we haven’t played like this for ages.
No doubt Jose Mourinho is one of the best managers in the world and he is going to succeed again but here it felt like it was never meant to be. Jose has been known to take the club and management down with him whenever he wasn’t heard. He wanted certain signing which was not given to him and a result of which he in some manner circulated negativity around the club by bringing up that point anywhere and everywhere possible. He had issues in past as well with big players and it appeared as if he didn’t want anyone to be bigger than him in the club, ultimately leading to separate dressing rooms. Different dressing rooms, different thought processes. Such an atmosphere was enough to bring down the potential of the players and the probability of winning as well.
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With Solskjaer’s appointment came back the positivity and respect for the players in the squad. Yes, Manchester United squad is not world class, but if the manager himself goes out to say in every other game that we lost due to lack of creativity or players or skills etc. it was never going to boost and get the best of what they already have. Solskjaer did nothing but praised the squad and that lead to a transformation in the players, who now believe that they are capable enough to play and compete with the elites in the game.
Every single time a player got injured, Jose would go back and complain about the lack of signing and cry about it while when Solskjær was recently asked that he has only two of his central defenders available for the trip to Newcastle, the answer he gave was, “That’s enough right?”. I know this is not a big statement but as a fan or even as a player when you hear things like these said by the manager who tends to always go out there with a smile.
Media and pundits have been divided on the recent turnaround at the club and believe United players were not giving in their hundred percent for the club and were playing to get Jose sacked. It doesn’t seem true to me. You are in no way going to succeed if you are not going to play to your strengths. Pogba for France and Juventus has been deadly but in United, he never looked that midfielder for which United paid 89 million euros. It was due to the fact that he was not allowed to do things he was brought in to do. If the number one priority of your aggressive players is tracking back to defend then how the hell are you going to score.
United’s philosophy has always been to be aggressive and offensive and that was complete anti-Jose. Pogba, Lingard, Rashford etc. who have come through the academy know this and they were not allowed to play the way they were taught all their life.
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Jose tactics have won him games and trophies everywhere but this United squad was not meant for it. Manchester United team is meant to go out there and press, attack, and score goals. This is what Manchester United is all about and this is what Solskjaer knows and this is what he is transferring into the minds of each and every player out there.
Coming on the actual tactics and playing style which Manchester United has now adopted under Solskjaer. United have been playing 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 similar to what Jose did but with a lot of difference. The team is really pressing high and even the central defenders are coming out and carrying the ball up to the attacking areas. Martial and Lingard have been continuously swapping the wings according to the situation and Pogba has been playing the number 10 role with Matic and Herera responsible for the bulk of the defensive duties. With the pressing United is doing, every time a ball is reaching the opposition goal one or two players are always there to receive it and look to score.
Solskjaer mentioned that Lukaku is a great marksman but if he faces his own goal in anticipation of receiving the ball then it will not be easy for him to go forward and score which is his first duty. Every time Manchester United score they are told to go for the next one instead of holding on to the lead. Players like Fellaini and Scott have been overlooked to bring in more creative players like Pereira and Mata which just not restricts United’s approach to long balls.
Just giving the players the freedom to go out and express themselves on the field and play to their strength has totally changed the dynamics at the club. Yes, Manchester United are not going to win the league but yes they are certainly going to fight for it game by game and finish at the best position possible. And as mentioned in one of my previous blogs, it seems Manchester United have found the solution of their future in their past and it’s only up to the management now to find some who could continue this mentality and approach in the summer.
P.S. This recent tweet from Pogba clearly defines the way Manchester United fans have been feeling recently.
Bonnes fêtes à tous 🌟 @ManUtd #manutd @equipedefrance #fiersdetrebleus @adidasfootball #heretocreate pic.twitter.com/njyGT01AHf
— Paul Pogba (@paulpogba) December 26, 2018