Manchester Rising: United and Solksjaer's Moment of Settlement – originally published on Sportslens.com
Less than half the season and in a tight top 10 (six points separate # 2 from # 10) , Manchester United are the form team and are emerging as possible title contenders when we finish 2020.
It is not the game in hand and it is not Liverpool's injury crisis. It's not the incredible Bruno Fernandes, not the great Edinson Cavani, not the brilliant Marcus Rashford, and it's definitely not Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
It's the winner, stupid. It's always the results that matter and change the culture at the club (and Pogba's opinion of staying at Old Trafford).
First, it was the good run when Solskjaer was the caretaker manager that led to his getting the job. Then it was the Fernandes-inspired run that United took on late last season to sneak into third place. And now we have this latest set of games when they're back in third place, five points behind Liverpool and the much-touted game in hand.
Solskjaer & # 39; s United are a frustrating team that occasionally (about once per season) transforms into a clutch world. Thugs for a few months, enough to save a season but not enough to win a title. Like a super substitute, the short term effects are great, but in the long run they leave no doubt as to why the super sub was sitting on the bench and the game didn't start.
This Boxing Day weekend, United are playing Leicester away in a replay of last season's final game when a win helped them finish in third place. A win on Saturday will take them to the heights after a terrible start to the season in which they couldn't win at home and – so that nobody will forget – they fell into the Europa League after leading their Champions League group in the final drive game round.
After the game in Leicester, United played four home games in a row – two league games (against Wölfe and Aston Villa) as well as the league cup (Manchester City) and FA Cup (Watford) games, before a possible duel to Anfield at the top of the table.
Of course, United could have lost three games at the league's trot at this point and adjusted in one fell swoop.
Or maybe they can beat Leicester on Saturday and put together a bunch of home wins and go into the January 17th game with real panache and not just wishful thinking.
Because right now that's all United has to do – wishful thinking. If you can't beat Leicester, Wolves and Villa – unless you can show that this is more than just a super sub-team – the unity of our imaginations is far better than what we see on the field.
PS – United's second half of the season includes away trips to Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham. It couldn't be easier …