United, final resurrection? – AS.com
November 4, 2020. United lose at Basaksehir’s field in a match that would end up costing him elimination in the Champions League later on after being outmatched by PSG and Leipzig in the second round. Three days he had lost at Old Trafford against Arsenal (0-1). Arteta’s were looking up, while Red Devils they were placed thirteenth six points behind the leadership with just seven games played. Doubts plagued the Mancunian parish once again. Solskjaer’s post was reeling, like so many other times. Pochettino appeared on the horizon, like many others. The splendid final streak of the previous season led by the signing of Bruno Fernandes put United on the road to success. But, once again, everything was a mirage. Or not?
January 12, 2021. United are leaders of the Premier League. First time he has achieved it since a brief impasse when 2017-18 dawned, with Mourinho at the helm. The first time he has achieved it when things get serious since 2013, last year with Ferguson at the helm. Since winning the league title on Sir Alex’s farewell, attempts to bring dreams back to Old Trafford have almost always ended in nightmare.
Green shoots with Mourinho
David Moyes, Ryan Giggs (interim after Moyes’s removal), Louis van Gaal and José Mourinho tried before Solskjaer. Only the stage of the Portuguese coach threatened to draw perennial smiles from the bosom of United. Carabao Cup, Community Shield and Europa League capped a hat-trick in 2016-17 from a stabilized and growing team that managed to finish second the following season. Although 19 points from Guardiola’s intractable City.
In December 2018, an irregular start, the worst in 28 years, placed them in sixth position, 19 out of the lead. Mou’s friction with the dressing room in general and Pogba in particular, in addition to a definitive defeat against Liverpool, did the rest. The stage of the former Madrid in the red part of Manchester was coming to an end. The first great threat of resurrection after Ferguson’s retreat was still on the way and Solskjaer would take the controls of a ship that needed a lot of left hand to right itself.
When Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sat on the bench he did so on an interim basis while the right coach appeared. However, the Norwegian’s temper resurrected a dying team. Eight consecutive wins to start. 14 wins, two draws and a single loss in the first 17 games to continue. All this with the qualification to the quarterfinals of the Champions League after a fantastic comeback against PSG in the Parc des Princes (1-3 in the second leg after 0-2 in the first leg). Ed Woodward, head of the club, was clear about it and removed the provisional tag from Solskjaer in March. On matchday 29 they marched fifth, one point from fourth place and 13 from City, the leader. An irregular end of the season left them in the same sixth place that they occupied with Mourinho, elimination in the Champions League against Barça included.
In summer, Paul Pogba became the protagonist with the incessant siren songs that came from the Santiago Bernabéu. Wan Bissaka and Maguire, € 55 and € 87 million, arrived to reinforce the defense, the main mole of the squad. Lukaku and Inter left the composite team without a striker and doubts about the continuity of the French midfielder left the possible reinforcements in the air. She was accused of this lack of a battering ram at the start of the campaign and the team, although she managed to keep Pogba after asking for an exorbitant amount (€ 180 million) for his signing, went fallow again. A tran tran that threatened Solskjaer’s position for the first time until the signing, in capital letters, arrived in winter.
Bruno Fernandes, whose incorporation was next months before, would become the ‘X Factor’ that was needed. The midfielder had shown in Portugal not to be a typical midfielder and, in the absence of ‘9’, it was good the most offensive midfielder on the continent (32 goals and 18 assists the previous year with Sporting). Again, Wild streak of results that led United to Champions League place when on January 29, the moment of the arrival of the ’18’, they had them at five points. Beyond the results were the sensations. Bruno served as a shuttle for Rashford, Martial and Greenwood, a trio that opposed the throne of the ‘new Holy Trinity’ at Old Trafford.
Once again, the lights buried the shadows and the summer market was reached with the illusion as a flag. But it would not be final either. On this occasion, it was United that ran into the high claims of the other side. Borussia Dortmund asked for amounts for Jadon Sancho that in times of a pandemic seemed chimerical. Van de Beek arrived, an old desire for Real Madrid. The Dutchman could not fit in (he still does not) because he shared a position with a Bruno who remained the only undisputed player in the midst of the initial chaos. And again the resurrection was halfway through, reaching the aforementioned November 4 with the team, and Solskjaer, at the UVI.
A resilient and definitive United?
The elimination of the Champions League and the ‘Pogba earthquake’ hid a league streak that made them climb positions little by little. Without the rush of yesteryear. With the media focus on other teams with the same or more urgencies than the Mancuniano (Arsenal) and other coaches with more doubts than those that Solskjaer won at that time. Eleven games since the aforementioned defeat against the Gunners by Arteta. Nine wins and two draws (against Leicester and City). An escalation that has turned them into leaders of the Premier League with all their merits and three points ahead of Liverpool. Curiously, the goal that elevates them was scored by a Pogba who, since Raiola verbally sealed his goodbye to United, is another.
Bruno carbura (15 goals and 9 assists). Rashford carbure (14 and 8). Pogba carbura (has completed six of the last eight Premier matches). From Gea, which has solidly erased criticism, carburettor. Cavani, the substitute with the sharpest tusk in Europe who has finished his adaptation process and has a starting sound (he started against Burnley), carburettor. “Why can’t United fans believe? “Gary Neville wondered after the victory against Burnley. A Neville that highlights the resilience shown by the team. A resilience that has not appeared for a long time as a qualifier of a team used to leading and not chasing, as usual since 2013.
It may not be the most colorful football in Europe, but in a competition as even as the Premier 2020-21 (four points between second and seventh), resisting seems more important than shining on time. And Solskjaer has proven to be a master tightrope walker. Sunday they have a Major Exam at Anfield (5:30 PM, DAZN). First and second, the leadership will be played. We will see if United resists the attacks of Klopp’s men, does not lose balance and confirms that, this time, it is the definitive resurrection and Old Trafford is once again a Theater of Dreams.