As the Red Devils march on into 2021, it’s clear most fans are reasonably happy as to how things are going. Sure, the exit from the Champions League was massively disappointing, and, there are still concerns over several areas on the pitch. There is a long way to go to meet fans’ expectations for the club.
And yet, you get the impression that the challenge laid down to United at the start of the season – getting closer to Liverpool and Man City in the Premier League – has been fulfilled. Yes, the title challenge could fade away: as Solskjaer has said, nobody remembers who was top of the league on 12th January. But United are certainly closer to the leading pair – regardless of what happens throughout the rest of the season.
Credit must go to Solskjaer. Lest we forget, the Norwegian was in fear of his job at one point in late autumn. While United fans aren’t exactly trumpeting that “Ole is at the wheel”, they are relatively happy that he continues driving the club’s fortunes. Solskjaer has now passed two years at the Old Trafford dugout, and he is approaching 120 games in charge. Below we pick out the five best moments of his reign so far:
- The Bruno Fernandes Signing
Not exactly a moment, but, nevertheless, we can look back with hindsight at the day the Portuguese signed as one of the most significant events since Sir Alex Ferguson left the club. Parallels have been drawn with the signing of Eric Cantona. As Fernandes has been in Manchester less than a year, it feels much too early to make such a judgement. However, the fact such comparisons are being made tells you a lot about the impact of Fernandes. From his arrival until the end of 2020, United took more points in the Premier League than any other team – even Liverpool.
- PSG 1 United 3 (Champions League Last 16, 2019)
Some might argue that United’s 2-1 victory in Paris in the Group Stage this season was a better performance (it was) while this victory owed a lot to luck (it did). Nevertheless, United were given little chance of overturning a 2-0 1st leg defeat, but they went to Paris and pulled off the most remarkable victory in United’s recent history. The nerve shown by Marcus Rashford to smash in the 94th-minute penalty was incredible. For a moment, it felt like the old days.
- United 1 Wolves 0 (Premier League, December 2020)
Lately United are one of those late-scoring teams (like Leicester) on the Premier League live betting at MBet. Leaving it late means the odds increase as the match goes on, but United have become late winner and comeback specialists this season, and will have put a smile on the face of plenty of punters backing last-minute winners. As for this performance, it wasn’t great. But the reaction to Rashford’s 90th winner had all the hallmarks of the great days under Alex Ferguson. The goal sent United second in the table, but it was the players’ reaction that felt so special. If fans had been in Old Trafford that day, the roof would have come off the place.
- United 2-0 Man City (March 2020)
As is so often the case with United in 2020, this result was linked to the arrival of Bruno Fernandes. United went into the Derby with a nine-game unbeaten run, and they wouldn’t lose another game until the FA Cup Semi-Final in July. Solskjaer got his tactics spot on here, containing City and punishing them on the break. Martial and McTominay got the goals, but it was becoming evident by this point that Fernandes was special. Moreover, this game showed that United had the ability to turn their season around.
- Top of the League after 887 Days (January 2021)
When United walked off the pitch against Burnley after a hard-fought 1-0 victory, it was the first time the team had hit the summit since the opening day of the 2018/19 season (under Mourinho). United had not led the Premier League in January since the days of Ferguson. As we mentioned earlier, the title charge might fade away. But Solskjaer has improved this team and done what Jose Mourinho, Louis Van Gaal and David Moyes failed to do – make the fans believe again. Hopefully, Solskjaer’s best moments are yet to come, but this was where United went top and felt that they deserved to be there.