Manchester United reporter: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer matures with show of strength at Tottenham | Football News

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When Ole Gunnar Solskjaer returned to Manchester United as manager in 2018, he saw it as a homecoming, returning to a familiar environment in which he had flourished.

Those who decided to bring him back thought he could also be the man to restore some of the values ​​and principles that had faded since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement.

However, while Solskjaer has always been comfortable at Old Trafford, there is an argument that sentiment comfortable in his role as United manager is something that took him longer to question himself.

What Solskjaer managed to achieve on and off the pitch at Tottenham on Sunday is perhaps the biggest sign yet that Norweigan have taken on one of the most scrutinized roles in world football and are appreciates the challenges and rewards it brings.

Solskjaer’s team demonstrate power on the pitch

On the pitch, whether it was a response fueled by anger or injustice, United put in an eye-catching performance, starting with six outfielders who had played in Jose Mourinho’s time and a couple that the former boss had marginalized.

Scott McTominay – a player selected for special praise and an even more valuable award from Mourinho – spoke of a calm response at halftime and a request to patiently seek solutions and goals. This plan was executed with flying colors resulting in 28 Premier League points saved from losing positions.

‘Progress’ is a word that comes up often in discussions of where United is heading, but on the evidence of the performances of players like Paul Pogba and Luke Shaw, it seems that individuals thrive and what the team offers in the world. the whole is also more convincing.

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer demonstrated strength against Jose Mourinho at Tottenham

Solskjaer shows his own steel

Off the pitch, Solskjaer has always offered a bright and positive demeanor. What he has expertly done in more difficult times is to hide the fire that lurks beneath that cheerful face. Talk to one of his teammates or people who were at the club when he was a player and they will tell you about a determined, motivated and intelligent young man.

There is a steel running through Solskjaer, something that was obvious to many who have encountered him, and if that corrects the wrong in the punishing October 6-1 loss to Spurs at Old Trafford, the manager of United showed their teeth in their response to denying the opening goal at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Everyone is looking for moments to attach special importance to, but it seemed to me that this was one of those instances where Solskjaer felt empowered enough to go to the vanguard in enemy territory. This time last year, he might not have been so willing to talk about the impact or the trajectory of McTominay’s right hand, but following a decisive victory he chose to move on to offense in a way rarely seen in his time at United. .

While the nature of the victory will have emboldened the manager, so will the recent behind-the-scenes restructuring, with promotions for people Solskjaer knows and trusts. Yes, there was a shock at the sudden departure of another Old Trafford hero to Nicky Butt, but the introduction of Darren Fletcher and the elevation of John Murtough are moves that only strengthen the hand of Ole and give him additional certainty on the way forward.


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… And a new contract in sight?

In an interview last week, Solskjaer tried to put his comment “Trophies can hide problems” in some context, explaining to me that he sees winning silverware as the third step in a process that begins with consistency and momentum. Old Trafford’s power brokers were as excited about Solskjaer’s behind-the-scenes work as they were about the first-team formative improvements, and while every negotiation is unique, I don’t expect too many bumps in the talks. to extend his contract. when the season is finally over.

With just one loss in the last 25 Premier League games, United fans have always focused on the chasing squad rather than Manchester City at the box office. But after a shocking home defeat for the ‘boisterous neighbors’ against Leeds and United’s second win in nine visits to Spurs, the debate suddenly turned to’ what if? The Reds still have a game in hand over the Sky Blues. Win that, and it’s an eight-point gap with six games to go.

I’ve said before this season that United fans have enjoyed being back in the title conversation, and while neither of them are particularly excited at the moment, Solskjaer seems destined for a second place finish. who would undoubtedly outweigh who Mourinho was. proud of since May 2018.

The writing may be on the wall for De Gea

Solskjaer is weary of the national debate over the situation for the goalkeepers he chairs and whether he is preparing to stick or twist when it comes to David de Gea and Dean Henderson. At Spurs he was determined to bring out his best team and while there is some debate as to whether that includes Mason Greenwood or not, what he doesn’t seem to include is De Gea.

The Spaniard may well have the gloves on again for Thursday’s visit to Granada in the Europa League, but with form and age both in Henderson’s favor, so do the economy. Having said that, due to his salary it will be a challenge to find a new club in De Gea this summer. Players will already be familiar with Solskjaer’s thought processes and while he may not tell reporters who his No.1 in goal is, both men will already know how the pitch is going.

What about Cavani’s future?

Another intriguing one is Edinson Cavani’s situation. His goal against Tottenham showed his predatory instinct and, as a striker, he is well aware of the movement and application that Solskjaer wants to see more of his other leading men. Cavani’s age is not an issue and United also appear to be improving to build on their strengths.

But if the salary he is paid and the prospect of Champions League football are not enough to extend his time at Old Trafford, then perhaps it is a simple family factor that has been put at the center of the game. beware of the pandemic, and it makes his head spin. back to South America.

Solskjaer would like to keep the Uruguayan, but the arrangement has to work out for both sides and he’s a United manager who wouldn’t interfere with a player’s family ties. However, another Cavani season would also potentially remove the need to bring in extra firepower this summer and save money that could then be spent on strengthening other areas.

Whatever happens with Cavani, United will again have to box smart in the transfer window. This does not mean that there will be no expenses because there will be, but it could well be in the sense of the last window of the summer with the care applied to the departure process as much as to the at arrivals to make the best use of available funds.

Pogba looks happier than ever

One ingredient currently missing is the whisper that usually goes with Pogba this time of year. The French midfielder looks as content as he has ever been in a United shirt, allied with fitness and hunger, which has given him the tools to harness the talent which the most, has always been there.

At Spurs, Pogba reminded again that if Bruno Fernandes isn’t shooting or is stopped playing, he has the gifts to counter those challenges. The third goal was an example of how Pogba has the ability to suddenly shift gears, when he wants to, and perhaps most encouragingly, it was at the end of a tough game.

The reality is, however, that the next transfer window will be about fine-tuning the squad and adding quality to them, meaning that perhaps for the first time since Pogba’s return, there are more reasons to stay than to leave.

Did Greenwood solve the right winger problem?

I started this piece by talking about the ideals and traditions dear to Manchester United and now entrusted to the man who presented the club with one of their most dramatic and defining moments of 1999. United DNA might be a weirdly clinical way of describing what it means to be a part of club soccer, but it’s something that two players understand who are both facing an interesting summer.

The first of these is Greenwood and he once again showed his rare abilities and sense of purpose which would make his manager happy to drive him to the airport, should the 19-year-old be called up to the squad. Gareth Southgate’s England for the European Championship. Greenwood isn’t a natural right-winger, but he adds enough threat and quality to allow the development of another youngster, Amad Traore.

At a time when money must be depleted, Greenwood’s progress may well mean that a wide player is now not at the top of the transfer wishlist like it was last summer, when Jadon Sancho was so actively pursued.

Jesse Lingard of West Ham celebrates after scoring his team's first goal (AP)
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Jesse Lingard could still have a future at Manchester United after his remarkable form on loan at West Ham

Lingard can still have a united future

And another academy graduate may suddenly have a previously unlikely say in this discussion. Jesse Lingard’s loan transfer to West Ham was intended as a win-win for the player and United, but it also benefited David Moyes’ side probably more than anyone realized.

Solskjaer speaks fondly of giving young Lingard his youthful debut at Burnley many years ago, but the next conversation between the two of how the future lies could differ significantly from their conversation in January. Lingard remains a popular member of United’s dressing room, and his fate will depend on what role or how many games he is offered, especially if he is also part of the European Championship squad.

So there are a lot of variables that United fans and their manager need to reflect on over the next few months, and some really positive indications, too, that Solskjaer is making the right kind of progress.

But even he would agree that winning the Europa League would represent a real signal of intent for him and his players.

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