Life is pretty good under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, four games and four wins with 14 goals scored and last night finally getting that elusive clean sheet. Whatever your view on José Mourinho and his sacking, one thing is for sure is that the atmosphere has changed at United.
I was at the match last night and after getting in the ground early for a couple of reasons, first to beat the queues and secondly and most importantly to use the lift as climbing all those stairs after a couple of weeks of festive eating would have finished me off.
The United away is always the best away support in the country, turning up in massive numbers for every game and out singing every team they face. The Concourses slowly filled up and became very crowded with lots of familiar songs being sung, as well as the new song Ole’s at the Wheel which reverberated around the ground all night.
As the kick off grew closer the singing got louder and a flare went off in the concourse, I don’t think the pyrotechnics dogs outside the ground earned their money last night. Newcastle is one of the most popular aways for United fans and having gone for Rugby League’s Magic Weekend I know why. This city is great for atmosphere and has lots of bars and pubs close to the ground so perfect for travelling Reds, the majority of Red’s who travelled were in great spirits and the singing didn’t stop until the crowd dispersed after the game.
On the pitch, this was a tougher prospect than the last three games as Newcastle made life difficult as they defended deep and made it tough for Manchester United to break them down. The first half was largely uneventful on the pitch but the songs about Alan Shearer are always a highlight.
Second half was a lot better as United began to turn up the heat on Newcastle, Solskjaer made a double substitution shortly after the hour mark which changed the game. Juan Mata and Anthony Martial were subbed for Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku, the latter made an instant impact as Marcus Rashford’s free-kick was spilt by the Newcastle goalkeeper and Lukaku pounced to put United 1-0 up. Even though he has had a bad season Lukaku is only one goal behind Sergio Aguero, so if he can gain back his match fitness in this system there are plenty of goals to be had.
Alexis Sanchez looked lively when he came on, he had a few bad touches but when United broke and Lukaku found him on the edge of the box he had the composure to slow it down and pass to an unmarked Marcus Rashford who took a touch before slotting calmly to seal all three points. A word too on Victor Lindelof who is starting look like the player we all hoped he would be, calm on the ball and adding the physical element to his game means United have a solid player for years to come.
The second goal was Rashford’s third goal under Solskjaer and his influence on Rashford is clear to see, the calmness he had to pick his spot was classic Solskjaer. United have closed the gap on Chelsea and Arsenal to 6 and 3 points respectively, Top 4 seemed out of reach when Jose Mourinho was sacked but a great run coupled with dropped points by the teams above us has drastically altered the landscape.
The long-term future and situation around the next manager are up for grabs but for now, the mood around the club is a positive one. The away fans who hadn’t stopped singing since they entered the ground and even more so as they left with all 3 points, it is one of the best places to go and watch United win. As the crowd parted after leaving the ground United songs were still being sung as coaches were being boarded for the drive home, the drive home never seems so long after a good win.
The away fans always support the team through thick and thin with the football recently not being much to cheer about but to listen to them last night as the players then Solskjaer came over to away end. The fans are enjoying this incarnation of United at the moment. United are fun again and while Ole is in charge the fans will be behind them, every fan loved the atmosphere and result last night, but I know that all Reds feel better now Ole is at Wheel.
Happy start to the New Year! 🎊
Ole’s at the wheel
Tell me how good does it feel
We’ve got Sanchez, Paul Pogba and Fred
Marcus Rashford’s a Manc born and bred
Du du du du dudu du du
Greatest of English football
We’ve won it all
— StrettyNews.com (@StrettyNews) January 3, 2019