Christmas has indeed arrived at the Old Trafford with 5-1 win in the first game as a Caretaker Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, you would take it any day against any side, won’t you?
After an abysmal first half of the season, Manchester United are up and running, courtesy a near-perfect game at the Cardiff City stadium. The players delivered everything that any manager would cherish. Accurate free-kicks, long-range goals, pin-point precision passing, penalty-goal conversion, resulting following records;
- Most goals in a league game this season.
- Highest possession in a league game this season.
- Highest passing accuracy in a league game this season.
Despite the opposition not being the most challenging of the lot, Manchester United didn’t look like taking anything for granted. It was a statement that these are the new devils’. It was a statement that league gets over only after 38 games. It was a statement that the “pushover” tag that was attached after the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson, was slightly pinched off.
As the first assignment of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer went underway against his former club Cardiff City, It was evident that there is a sense of assurance among the players about their abilities. The result came a few minutes after kick-off in the form of a blazing free-kick goal by Rashford. As soon as Cardiff City could recover from this initial blow, there was some precise long-range stuff from Herrera which took the back of the net after a deflection.
Manchester United against Cardiff:
🔴 Most possession in a PL game this season
🔴 Highest passing accuracy in a PL game this season
🔴 Most goals in a PL game this season
Not a bad start to managerial life at United. 😏 pic.twitter.com/tAe6FkYEuw
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 22, 2018
After these twin attacks on the opposition, stadium witnessed a sight which had long disappeared. Commentator, on air, went on to say “There is a feeling of a renaissance in the air”, and gee, that was some renaissance.
There was a bit of a speed breaker when an unforced error by Rashford conceded a penalty which was eventually converted well by Camarasa. This was the moment when the momentum could have shifted, the most testing period. These were the kind of moments that had cost them matches in the past. But as I said, This was the new United. When the opposition is down, these blokes ensured that they stay down.
After initial long-range goals, It was time to entertain the fans with some tiki-taka on display. Just 4 minutes shy of regulation time, the attack combined to double the lead once again, with Anthony Martial getting on the scoresheet for the 32nd time in his 100 appearances for United. They went into half-time with a feeling that the second half was going to be a mere formality.
The second half play was more about composure and patience. United didn’t attack much, and the Cardiff City players were getting frustrated which was evident in the manner Bamba conceded a penalty, taken with greeting hands by Lingard who struck twice in the second half to give United a big win over the Welsh side who were undefeated at home in the last 3 games.
It seems likely that the manager would have gone overboard with such performance and be all guns blazing in the post-match conference. But as I said earlier, a new United. Solskjaer spoke about the little tinkering they did with the full-backs supporting the offense.
“We had a little session about patterns of play, Luke supporting Anthony.
It’s worked well today. The easiest thing to work on is your work-rate.
Because of the occasion, maybe they made a run or two more than normal.
The foundation was our center-backs.”
– Solskjaer after Cardiff game
He didn’t back away from mentioning the former club legend Wayne Rooney, with whom he had a Buddy Talk before the game.
“Football is easy if you have good players.
They are such a great bunch and their quality is unbelievable.
I arrived on Thursday; all that advice I got on text from Wazza [Wayne Rooney] was useful! He told us to enjoy our football, smile and be Man United. It’s been a tough week for them.
It’s been a tough week for me, to be fair. Even though it was enjoyable, there was a lot of things swirling around our heads, so they responded fantastically.
The players have the Manchester United badge on their shirt, and there’s a reason for that, they’re quality players.”
– Solskjaer on Rooney
When asked about the plans for the season ahead, Solskjaer responded in a way that has brought about a sense of calm among the connoisseurs.
“We take one game at a time; we’ve caught up eight or nine points before!
There is still work to be done. We’ll keep plugging away, little by little.”
He is not going to get carried away with a one-off win against a relatively fragile side. This is a humble bloke and also very liked within the community.
The hopes of revamping got enlightened a bit more, and that was just as well. With Pogba back and 4 major changes in the original Mourinho line-up, this side played nearly a perfect game.
The fans witnessed a game, their eyes longed to see. Maybe United are in good hands, let’s not be too pessimistic or too optimistic. The 5th manager after Sir Ferguson has promised a lot after his first job at hand. Let’s be pure football enthusiasts and cherish what seems to be a very promising phase which could well reserve a place for itself in the history books.