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Manchester United are title contenders after their recent exploits

Manchester United beat Wolves to climb to second place in the Premier League table.
Manchester United beat Wolves to climb to second place in the Premier League table.
ANALYST
Modified 30 Dec 2020, 16:42 IST
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Manchester United climbed to second place in the Premier League with a 1-0 win over Wolves on Tuesday. The sight of Marcus Rashford racing towards the Old Trafford corner flag in total ecstasy is one that will rank among the highlights of many Manchester United fans in 2020.

For a year that obviously hasn’t been kind to the world, these moments of joy make a huge difference to football fans. On Tuesday, though, Rashford made the difference courtesy of a world-class pass from Bruno Fernandes.

Wolverhampton Wanderers must have thought they had done enough to earn a draw until Rashford and Fernandes combined for the winner. The duo has been key to Manchester United’s success in recent weeks and they once again proved why Ole Gunnar Solskjaer rates the duo so highly.

When Fernandes threaded a 50-yard pass to Rashford, the young Englishman still had a lot to do. The 23-year-old saw the ball drifting wide but controlled it back into the box and dallied his marker before firing it into the net.

It was a goal deserving of winning any game and the only thing the moment lacked was 75,000 fans inside Old Trafford to give it the raucous cheer it merited.

Manchester United have never quite been serious title contenders since Alex Ferguson’s departure in 2013. The closest the club came was in the 2017/2018 season when they finished second under Jose Mourinho.

However, even with that, the Reds were many points away from eventual Premier League winners Manchester City. Tuesday’s win against Wolves, though, has moved them to just two points behind league leaders Liverpool.

Considering that Manchester United still have a game in hand, it is easy to see why many of their fans are buoyant and are dreaming of a 21st league title.

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So far, Solskjaer has been reluctant to acknowledge the club as title contenders despite their blistering form. The Norwegian believes the Reds’ true place in the league can only be determined after 30 games.

"There's no title race after 15 games," Solskjaer said, as quoted by Goal. "You can lose the chance of being in a race in the first 10 games. But play another 15, get to 30, and then maybe we can start talking about a title race."
"But the belief is there. We go into every game thinking we can win against anyone, anywhere. We've shown what we're capable of away. We are improving at home as well and this result is massive for confidence and attitude," added Solskjaer.

While Solskjaer has a point, Manchester United could be genuine title contenders this season. They may have made a slow start to the campaign, but their current form cannot be swept under the radar.

Manchester United haven’t lost a league game since their disappointing 1-0 defeat to Arsenal in November. Since then, the Reds have played nine Premier League games, winning seven times and drawing twice.

Published 30 Dec 2020, 16:42 IST
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