Solskjaer’s return to Old Trafford was a victorious one. In a way, the Norwegian has been Santa Claus for United fans in this festive period, bringing in much needed positivity and getting United players to play attacking football with a certain swagger again. However, his opposition has not been world class. Cardiff and Huddersfield are in a relegation battle and United, while scoring 8 goals, could not keep a clean sheet in any of those games, even though they have one of the best keepers in the World.
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The best defence is attack. We’ve heard this footballing “proverb” quite often. This is what United have been trying to do in the past two games. Solskjaer’s players are keeping an awful lot of possession, outrunning the opponents and having a go at them the full 90 minutes. Even when they were 3-0 up against Cardiff and Huddersfield, they did not give their opponents any respite.
This style of play can conceal defensive frailties well enough against the weaker teams. Jones and Dalot were not quite brilliant today but did not looked so bad as United were mostly attacking. Huddersfield showed United what they need to work on defensively. The Terriers had their chances. A long throw early on in the first half could have resulted in a goal when the score was 0-0, changing the dynamic of the game.
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When you are 3-0, you should be able to control the game and lock your defense to see out the game. Huddersfield managed to get an easy goal in. Ball in the air, deflected with a header from a striker and boom! An unmarked player taps it in. This was the amateurish defending that Mourinho has been whining about for a year now.
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Solskjaer will face sterner tests against Bournemouth next gameweek and Spurs in January. These games will be an early indication of whether the revival at United is here to stay or is just due to “new manager syndrome”. The players sure seem revitalized.
A good run in the next seven Premier League games, where they only face top six opposition once, would build up confidence before they face Paris St Germain.
Man of the Match: Nemanja Matic for an almost perfect performance in midfield and coming up with the opener which unlocked the game for his team. (With Pogba a close second).
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Old Trafford Photo from Pixabay