Manchester United needing a win against Burnley at Turf Moor? Well, some things never change. United have never lost a Premier League game at Burnley but this felt like one that could cause an upset. But they passed the test.
It was only a little over two months ago that United lost at home in the league to Arsenal for the first time in 15 years, dropped down to 16th and had Ole’s job hanging by a thread.
Fast forward eleven games later, ‘crisis-hit Man Utd’ are top of the Premier League table, three points clear of second placed Liverpool.
What a huge rise to grace for United and their maligned manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The Norwegian was labelled clueless, and every defeat left spectres of Pochettino looming for Solskjaer.
Solskjaer’s United have been, on more than a few occasions, criticised for capitulating in crucial moments and failing to win games when it really mattered. A case in point was their leading their Champions League group after beating PSG and Leipzig in their first two games only to fail to get 6 points in their remaining four games, and their four semifinal exits in the space of 11 months.
Burnley away looked like it would be one of those games Man Utd ‘bottled it on a big occasion, but stepped forward Paul Pogba.
— Bruno Fernandes (@B_Fernandes8) January 12, 2021
United fans would have been forgiven if they harboured any deja vu feelings, however small, when VAR harshly overruled Harry Maguire’s header and only some moments earlier, Brady had seen a potential red card turned to a yellow card for Luke Shaw – match viewers would relate this incident better, but Pogba was on hand to volley a 61st minute Marcus Rashford lay off home. For a player who apparently wants to leave in the summer, more games like this would increase his chances of leaving with a major trophy.
The man whom some United fans rightly still blame his agent for playing a part in their Champions League exit after his statement on the eve of the Leipzig game about Paul Pogba’s summer departure was at the centre of everything. He had the most passes, most touches, most duels won and created two chances.
He promised to give his all and that’s what he’s went about doing. Controlling games and easing the work load on Bruno Fernandes who has almost singlehandedly carried the team up until mid December.
The team stuck together, dug deep, and as Pogba said post match, patient. They knew their chance would come and it did. And it was a deserved goal for Paul Pogba. A great finish too.
Harry Maguire was superb, Eric Bailly was excellent alongside the captain in defence again, Luke Shaw got away with one but good overall, Aaron Wan-Bissaka was decent. The only worry for United is that Martial is yet to truly find his scoring boots.
Today was such a tough day that I genuinely dont think anyone had a bad game. Yes there were missed chances & lapses of concentration but they stuck together as one, screaming shouting & willing each other on.
They're a family now. And that's what makes it all the more special.
— ManUtdSense (@SensibleUtd) January 12, 2021
Although it’s understood his job was hardly ever on the line even after the Champions League exit, Ole too must be surprised at how quick the turn around in fortunes have been.
After languishing in Europa League spots for a vast majority of last season, United have put themselves in a position of strength, this time around, to make lighter work of qualifying for the Champions League. Top of the league after 17 matches for the first time since 2013, The Premier League table definitely makes more sense to United fans now (although they know they’re still some way from winning it), but what makes more sense is the team spirit the players have shown, and the trust in the manager, and the willingness to fight for him.
They face Liverpool on Sunday and might be back to second by Monday but currently, they’re in a position everyone would like their team to be in, including the Champions.