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Ole proves he’s no wally as United turn the corner

Ole proves he’s no wally as United turn the corner

FOOTBALL: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer seems to have steadied the ship as Manchester United sail towards the busy festive period on a run of promising form.

Premier-LeagueFootball
By Ben Tirebuck

Saturday 14 December 2019, 10:30AM


Ole Gunnar Solksjaer has had an impressive recent run and will be confident going into this weekend’s home game against Everton. Photo AFP.

Ole Gunnar Solksjaer has had an impressive recent run and will be confident going into this weekend’s home game against Everton. Photo AFP.

Only just over a week ago, Solskjaer had been fielding questions over whether he is the man to return Manchester United to their former glories after just four wins from their opening 14 Premier League games.

Fast forward eight days and Solskjaer has secured three impressive victories to lift the gloom and reinstall confidence into what was clearly a club suffering a crisis of confidence.

Jose Mourinho returned to Old Trafford (Dec 4) with his reinvigorated Tottenham team but it was Solskjaer who held the upper hand by guiding his team to a 2-1 win.

Three days later came the Manchester derby, always a tense affair and one United have found themselves contesting as underdogs in recent years. The fact the game was at their bitter rivals ground made the task seem even more daunting.

United excelled, winning 2-1, and Solskjaer rightfully received widespread acclaim for his tactics and brave approach to the game by adopting an all out attacking philosophy.

The win lifted United up to fifth in the table, within five points of the top four. On both occasions the scoreline arguably flattered the losing side with Solskjaer's vision slowly coming to fruition.

On Thursday (Dec 12) United crushed AZ Alkmaar 4-0 in the Europa League, despite fielding a relatively youthful side. It seems Solskjaer has confidence running through the whole club ensuring whichever team is selected will perform.

Youngster Mason Greenwood scored twice in the Europa success and is a talent knocking on the first team door demanding more involvement.

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"Mason's different class as a finisher," Solskjaer told AFP.

"If there's anything around the box you expect him to get a shot off and on target, he's good at creating space for himself and right-foot, left-foot it doesn't matter."

Greenwood currently finds his chances at first team level limited due to the sparkling form of deadly duo Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.

 Rashford has already matched his previous season's goal tally with 13 strikes this term and is displaying both a maturity and consistency that has not been witnessed in him before. His rapport with fellow front man Martial is continuing to blossom and pose significant threat every time they take the field.

The third and final cog in the front line is summer signing from Swansea Dan James who has been in sparkling form and already done enough to seemingly secure his starting berth. It confirms his progress is way ahead of schedule and the Wales international is developing into a fine all round player.

Elsewhere, against Spurs and City, Fred enjoyed two of his best games since his £50 million move from Shakhtar Donetsk 18 months ago. He had been much maligned, marginalised and all but forgotten under previous boss Mourinho, although he has finally displayed his worth and much credit must go to Solskjaer for this.

The two other big money summer signings have also grown in stature in recent weeks, impressing in particular against rivals City. Aaron Wan-Bissaka was outstanding in nullifying the threat of Raheem Sterling and Harry Maguire marshalled his defence resolutely under a late City bombardment.

There is still much to do for Solskjaer to convince the doubters, not least catching Chelsea in fourth to secure a return to the Champions League next season, but he is certainly taking strides in the right direction and will be confident of maintaining their run of good form as United welcome Everton to Old Trafford tomorrow (Dec 15).

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