For the first time this season, Manchester United have kept back-to-back clean sheets. Before last Saturday, the club’s only clean sheets had come in the League Cup against Luton Town and Brighton and Hove Albion.
However, in the last four days, the Red Devils have managed to shut out both domestic and European opponents.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side did not concede against Chelsea in the Premier League over the weekend and followed it up with a flawless performance against RB Leipzig in the Champions League, which culminated in a 5-0 victory.
After a torrid start to the campaign, this is exactly what Solskjaer and Manchester United needed. The Norwegian has been on the end of some severe criticism, but things are beginning to come together for him.
Many had predicted that the club’s tough run of fixtures would see him sacked. On the contrary, Manchester United have never been more convincing in these big games, although tests against Arsenal and Everton lie ahead.
The goalless draw against Chelsea was a fair result, but the 5-0 thumping of RB Leipzig, who were semi-finalists in the Champions League last season, was a huge statement.
More importantly, Manchester United are playing with guile and swagger. All of a sudden, the club boast a deep squad and an excellent bench that could be called upon at any time.
Solskjaer has often seen his tactical nous questioned, with some suggesting he is only in the job because of his ties to the club as a former player. However, he’s proved that he’s totally worth his salt.
His man-management so far has been top-notch, while his management of players in games has been even better. The 47-year-old is keeping his charges fresh for each game by applying a deft rotational strategy.
Against Chelsea, he left Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic and Mason Greenwood out of his starting line-up. However, all three started against Leipzig in the Champions League, an encounter which saw Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes and Scott McTominay being used as substitutes.
Manchester United is still a long way from returning to the pinnacle of English and European football, but there are signs that the good old days are nigh.
And Solskjaer is starting to prove that he’s capable of being the man to return the club to those glory days.Published 29 Oct 2020, 15:38 IST