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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer inspired revival of ‘never say die’ attitude at Man Utd

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“It’s not over” until the fat lady sings “is a phrase Manchester United fans were overused during Sir Alex Ferguson’s incredible 26-year reign.

Quite simply, you could never write off a side of Ferguson. Part of what made him and his teams so brilliant was the ever-present feeling that the Red Devils could still get a win, even if things were not going their way.

And while they weren’t invincible towards the end – fans don’t need to recall that 6-1 blow to City or the last goal of 2012 title-winning Sergio Aguero – it was a attitude that was still there, but quickly disappeared. with his retirement.

Sir Alex Ferguson
Dynasties Like Ferguson’s Are Simply Unheard of in Football Today | Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA / Getty Images

In the years that followed, United collapsed into a squad devoid of identity or true leadership, and had no manager in place who could make the most of his squad. When Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – a man whose only previous Premier League managerial experience had seen Cardiff relegated in 2014 – was tasked with replacing Jose Mourinho, things looked seriously desperate.

It was a huge bet, but it’s also a bet that continues to pay off, albeit with a few bumps along the way.

Since taking charge, Solskjaer has injected a much needed life back into a United squad that was bogged down by players who weren’t good enough, those who weren’t at the club for the right reasons and those who needed help. ‘an extra helping hand to take the next step. He’s not perfect, but he’s come a long way since December 2018 in the most progressive period since Ferguson’s retirement.

The first change was another identity change. United swung and turned between Louis van Gaal’s outdated tactics and Mourinho’s all-out defensive tactics, and everything David Moyes wanted to try and do again. Solskjaer’s first steps were to make the team exciting again; fearless and ruthless on offense, always looking capable of scoring a goal. In doing so, he makes the most of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.

Paris Saint-Germain v Manchester United: Group H - UEFA Champions League
Many players prove themselves under Solskjaer | Xavier Laine / Getty Images

The change of identity, however, could not happen without new players. Solskjaer has had the most success among those who have tried to clean up the deadwood and get players to succeed. Alexis Sanchez’s salary is over, while Romelu Lukaku, Chris Smalling, Marouane Fellaini and many others have also seen the way out since his arrival.

It’s an overused cliché about an ‘identity’, but that’s exactly what the Norwegian has restored. Arguably the strongest area of ​​his game is his man management, and successfully involving key players – like Paul Pogba – has gone a long way in getting the whole team to adhere to a philosophy and finally play for the badge.

It is this change in mentality that helps the Red Devils to progress as they are. Of course, signings like Bruno Fernandes are also key to success, but he is again what Solskjaer is looking for in a United player; hungry, bossy and excellent in attack. It is falling into place this season and that is why United find themselves at the top of the Premier League halfway, capitalizing on a campaign where their rivals are not at their best.

The win over Fulham was the club’s 17th consecutive away game in the Premier League unbeaten, tying a record set by Ferguson’s United in their 1998/99 treble season. The 2-1 win also made it seven out of 10 away games where the Red Devils came back from behind to win – a Premier League record.

While there is an element of worry in a stat like this – no one wants to run after a game, and being in control is always the ideal scenario – it shows just how resilient and resilient there is. conviction within the team, for the first time in years. .

Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes, Fred, Edinson Cavani
Pogba scored an incredible winner against Fulham in another great performance | Pool / Getty Images

United suddenly seem capable of spinning the games anytime and winning when the chips are down. While their performance at Craven Cottage was by no means bad, getting wins in games where you don’t play particularly well is always a positive and what the Solskjaer team did.

They are by no means the finished article, nor have they confirmed themselves as favorites to lift the Premier League in May, but they are making serious progress in that direction for the first time in history with Solskjaer at the helm. United are finally making progress, and while the next steps are vital, it is finally becoming a joy for the fans to see them again.

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