Opinion: The new Manchester United have arrived, and they are here to stay
- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has infused fresh thinking and creativity into this team.
Manchester United drew blood across their cross-city neighbours Manchester City in an unusually subdued Manchester derby at Old Trafford in the Premier League on Sunday. Goals from Anthony Martial and Scott McTominay ensured that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men moved up to fifth in the league table, and as things stand now, in a Champions League spot for next season (as second-placed City are banned by the UEFA from competing in the Champions League for the next two seasons.)
On Sunday, Solskjaer was tactically miles ahead of his Manchester City counterpart Pep Guardiola. By defying tradition and going with a back five and a two-man attack, the Norwegian tactician took City completely unawares.
Of course, the flexibility that Fred and new signing Bruno Fernandes offered in central midfield allowed the manager to make plans around them. Fernandes was on song once again, providing the assist to Martial's goal. It was another classic piece of football from the Portuguese as he lobbed a dead ball up towards the Frenchman although he was looking towards another direction completely. Martial was ready for it and scored past City goalkeeper Ederson to put the Red Devils 1-0 up. Substitue Scott McTominay scored United's second and final goal after latching onto Ederson's weak through and lobbing it into the back of the net.
United's defence, too, has to be lauded for a splendid performance because not many teams have been able to keep a clean sheet against Manchester City in the recent past. Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan Bissaka were all brilliant and they were shielded very well by the effervescent Nemanja Matic in defensive midfield. Youngster Brandon Williams started as the left-wing-back while Shaw, who played as a left centre-back, did not get overawed by the situation and comfortably marked Phil Foden and other City players who forayed towards the left wing.
After winning on Sunday, United and Solskjaer have done the rare double of winning both games against Manchester City in the Premier League (in December, they had won 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium.) In this distinction, they are matched only by Wolves, who too have achieved the same double over Guardiola's men this season.
Solskjaer finally seems to be gaining the trust of Manchester United's supporters amid claims that his team are a new version of Manchester United. This new, fearless Manchester United, who play exciting and fluid football, have arrived and they are here to stay.Published 09 Mar 2020, 12:44 IST