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Solskjaer's No.1 Bid Continues to Gather Momentum

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Promising signs for 2019

Things are always eventful at Manchester United and this season has been no different. The Red Devils have been arguably the top flights biggest underachievers and they're constantly under the spotlight with them one of (if not the) biggest clubs in the world. Their lacklustre start to the 2018/19 campaign saw the board have to take action and relieve Jose Mourinho of his duties as first team manager, a move that was expected but still shocked the footballing world. United looked like had stagnated under the 56 year-old, playing negative, slow and predictable football so it was a decision that was fully supported by the fans.

But the shocks don't start and end there. The Manchester United hierarchy quickly bid to resolve the issues at the club by bringing back people who know Old Trafford inside out, in Mike Phelan and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The Red Devils were linked with the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Mauricio Pochettino and Massimiliano Allegri so the arrival of the Norweigan was a bit of a surprise and left many fans scratching their heads. But 8 games into his tenure along with an absolutely superb 8 wins, the atmosphere around the club couldn't be more different and 2019 looks like it could be a very memorable year for everyone involved with the club.

Is major silverware back on the horizon for the Red Devils?

Much has been made of Manchester United's struggles in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era. When the Scot was in charge at Old Trafford the Red Devils reigned supreme, absolutely dominating domestically and continentally during his 26 years in the hot seat - so there was always bound to be a slight drop off when he finally departed. But in the years that've followed they just haven't been able to replicate the commitment, the intensity, the desire to win and most important the 'United way' of playing football. Under David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho the OT faithful have seen some dire performances despite spending mega amounts of money - whilst rivals such as Manchester City and Liverpool have gone on to reach dizzying new heights.

But now FINALLY it appears that times may be changing. The December departure of Jose Mourinho has brought an incredible turnaround in both results and performances & one man deserves an awful lot of credit - Ole Gunnar Solkskjaer. The Norweigan is absolutely adored by the clubs supporters but a lot of them were left surprised when he came in to replace Mourinho, which is definitely understandable. His only other managerial experience in the Premier League came when he oversaw Cardiff City's relegation back in 2014, losing 16 of his 30 games. But what he lacks for in PL knowhow he certainly makes up for in his knowledge and understanding of Manchester United.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
It was clear when Mourinho left United that the club needed to get their identity back - making Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the ideal candidate

The Red Devils board made it clear they wanted someone who reflected the history and values of the club & in Solskjaer they certainly have someone who does that. When listening to him speak in his interviews or watching him on the touchline it's hard not to get motivated by this man, especially when you see what he won with the club back in his playing days, he just demands respect - so imagine what its like for the players in the dressing room?

Surprise appointment to leading contender...

Solskjaer was helped by a decent run of opening fixtures which United were expected to win and they've duly delivered, but the way that they've achieved these victories make it all the more impressive. The Red Devils are back to their free-flowing best, utilising the pace of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial on the counter attack whilst Paul Pogba is finally unleashing that monstrous physicality, eye for goal and excellent technical ability to really take games by the scruff of the neck - justifying that massive price tag. This is the best football they've played since the Fergie days and other sides in the top flight would've certainly taken notice - maybe, just maybe Manchester United are back.

Last Friday's victory over Arsenal displayed all the attributes of a top side. It looked like a very difficult game on paper but they managed to weather the storm and devastatingly hit the Gunners on the break three times whilst producing some resolute defending, rolling out deserved 3-1 winners. That was their second victory in North London in just 2 weeks after beating Tottenham (1-0) at Wembley & that too was a significant one for a number of reasons. Ever since Mourinho's departure, Spurs no.1 Mauricio Pochettino has been the name everyone has been talking about when it comes to his full-time replacement - so for Solskjaer to go to Tottenham, keep a clean sheet and win was a massive statement of intent.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
United's unbelievable turnaround puts Solskjaer odds-on to take the job on a permanent basis - a move that would go down a treat with the fans

And it's one that clearly hasn't gone unnoticed. His run of 8 successive wins has now seen him become the bookies favourite (4/9 @ SkyBet) to be the Manchester United manager for the first league game of the 2019/20 season - with Pochettino now out at 4/1. Not many would've foreseen this when the Norwegian arrived back in Manchester and what he's done at his short time simply cannot be ignored. He's got the fans back on board, he's got the players back playing for the shirt, he's got them winning games and they're playing some fantastic football - all promising signs going into the home straight of the campaign with United still in The FA Cup & Champions League...

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer @ 4/9