Manchester United are challenging for the title in January, nearly eight years since the last time the club genuinely were close to the summit of the league. The second-place finish by Jose Mourinho’s United 2017/18 team does not count as the title was over by the end of December.
But there are still loud dissenting voices which have seemingly waited for the League Cup semi-final defeat to local rivals Manchester City to pipe up after not saying a thing since the defeat to RB Leipzig in December.
This was unthinkable at the start of the season as top four was the aim and after the defeat to Tottenham that seemed like it was over as well as crashing out of Europe after we put ourselves in a great position with two wins from our first two games.
The results since the exit from the Champions League have been very good pushing the club up the table and behind Liverpool on goal difference ahead of playing our game-in-hand away to Burnley. Paul Pogba’s goal was enough to beat Burnley 1-0 and take United three points clear ahead of the biggest game of the season at Anfield.
The club have been in transition for years now, trying to forge a new identity after years of the same identity under Sir Alex Ferguson. There have been failures and the odd triumph, but this is the first time that there are genuine green shoots of recovery.
There are numerous top players in the youth teams both in the under 18’s and the under 23’s so the future is bright, and this is the most enjoyable and likeable team we have had since that last Ferguson title win in 2013.
I have seen recent posts on Twitter that some fans, a very small minority but somehow with a very large following say they don’t like the way the club is going. I thought this was a wind up at first, but they were genuine, and I felt like screaming but we can go top of the league if we win our game in hand and we did.
Ole Gunner Solskjaer is a club legend no matter what he does as a manager, his performances and contribution on the pitch will mean nothing he does will change what I think of him.
I understand if you don’t think he is the right man for the job, but you should still want him to succeed, I didn’t rate Moyes, but I didn’t want him to fail as if he did then the club did. Too many people are maybe too stubborn to admit the decision they made early in Ole’s tenure was maybe too premature.
If you don’t think he is the man who will win titles for this club then that is understandable as he has to beat out two best managers in the world in Guardiola and Klopp. But he has most certainly improved the club and gave United back a confidence and enjoyment that I have not had for a while.
From where he found the club after Jose Mourinho’s sacking he has created a good team spirit; he has got rid of players he didn’t want and made the dressing room a better place in terms of harmony and personalities. He has improved our offensive output, United look like they can score goals and that is what the club is built on plus bringing through young talent.
Giving players a little more freedom has meant that the team look a threat now, they do lack a few things, but this is what United are about. Going forward and trying to score goals with flair and exciting players, mixing great British/foreign talent with exciting youth players.
United may not win this league as Liverpool are stronger and City are looking very ominous with the form they are in right now, but we are back in the conversation and that is what all fans want (well most fans anyway).
There is still a bit to go to get the club back to the top, but it does look very promising and even if he doesn’t win a title or a trophy and he leaves and the manager after him succeeds then we can remember Ole as the man who laid the platform for that success.
It is difficult for everyone at the moment with the global pandemic, but football is an outlet for us to escape the constant barrage of negativity in the media and real life. Football is an excuse to feel good about something according to Jorge Valdano and he is right, I mean if you can’t feel good about where we are right now then football and Manchester United might not be for you.
I am looking forward to watching games now and although I miss the buzz of walking up to Old Trafford for a match, I am still excited to watch the team now and that is down to Ole.
Wherever they finish this season I am enjoying the fact United are playing well and are fighting it out at the top of the table, regardless what you think of the manager or of some of the players we need to get behind the team and enjoy the ride.