From 14th To 2nd: Manchester United Climb the Premier League Table

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has led the club on a march back up the EPL table. (Photo by Gyjo Gate/Wikimedia Commons via CC BY-SA 4.0)

Manchester United have given their fans something to celebrate over the holidays and into the new year. After being as low as 14th in the Premier League, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and company have clawed their way into second place in the table. During this run United have won four out of their last six games, outscoring their opponents 14-7 with two clean sheets. This run of form has some saying that United are title favorites, and rightfully so. The question is: where did this run come from?

The biggest eye opener for United was their defeat at the hands of RB Leipzig that dumped them out of the Champion’s League. This loss was a crushing blow to United. They knew that they were a better club than that, and expected way more. Manchester United are one of the biggest clubs in the world. It’s embarrassing for them to leave the UCL like this. Ole Gunnar Soskjaer and his players knew that this was the turning point of their season. If they expected to win any silverware, they had to take it upon themselves to be better…and they did just that.

Midfielder Bruno Fernandes is a huge part of that improvement. Since his arrival last season from Sporting CP, he’s been one of the best players in the Premier League. So far this season, he’s scored eleven goals and notched seven assists. Beyond his play, his sense of leadership mentality set him apart from the rest. During an interview for Manchester United Television (MUTV), Bruno stated,

“if we win trophies, it is the most important thing. Of course, it’s good for a player to win individual awards and I will never say I don’t want to be the best player in the league or I don’t want to be the PFA Player of the Season. I want to be [that] but I want to be [that] if the team wins trophies.”

Bruno Fernandes on MUTV

With that mindset, it will be easy for United to rely on Fernandes being a focal point for years to come.

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Solskjaer himself deserves a lot of credit as well. It hasn’t always been pretty, but Ole has shown signs of growth over his tenure. This is one of the biggest jobs in the world, and coaches dream of taking the helm here. Coming here from a small club like Molde is no simple task. Still, he’s managed to earn his players’ trust. The most recent example of this came with Paul Pogba against Aston Villa on Friday. The French midfielder has come under fire this season for poor performances and comments from his agent Mino Raiola. But Pogba’s performance against Villa had Solskjaer backing him up, stating that Pogba is “getting better and better.” Solskjaer hopes to see more performances like this from Pogba going forward.

The only thing hurting Manchester United is the lack of a proper center back to partner with Harry Maguire. Eric Bailly could be the answer, but he has too many injury woes to be trusted. Victor Lindelöf just isn’t good enough. During the January transfer window they have to sign a center back to give themselves a chance to win the league. The best option to shop for is 23-year-old Pau Torres. The left-footed defender’s passing makes him a perfect fit for a United team that struggles to play out of the back.

Business in January can be what separates United from winning the league title or not. Can Manchester United properly fill the hole at the back, and can Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and company continue their form?

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