If they are not already planning to, Manchester United should appoint Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, let him get through this transfer window, help tie down David de Gea and Anthony Martial to new deals and start planning for the summer and next season.

Put it this way, if a top level, established coach won eight games on the bounce, he would be offered a new deal immediately. And Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte would have been banging the boardroom door down and threatening to walk out if they didn‘t get four-year contracts.

Manchester United could take advantage of Solskjaer here but the solution to United‘s malaise since Alex Ferguson retired is staring Ed Woodward in the face. The club‘s executive vice-chairman has surely noticed the dramatic improvement in the team since Solskjaer took charge and has to reward the man.

Without saying a word, the United players are sticking the knife into Mourinho. Their former boss is going to need to tell plenty more funny stories on beIN Sports to restore his reputation, otherwise even he will find it tough to get a job at a leading club.

Watching them in the flesh at Arsenal on Friday night, for the first time since he left, I could see the pattern of the game was quite clearly based on Ferguson‘s United sides of the past, with the right mentality, a freedom to their play, but playing within a structure. You could see that from the first throw-in when Alexis Sanchez, Romelu Lukaku and Jesse Lingard all immediately got into position.

And it was done with smiles on their faces and the enjoyment in their football. Their celebrations are noticeable – they all wanted to jump on each other and have a laugh when they scored, enjoy the moment, not looking over at the bench, worried they‘re daring to have fun.

Where Mourinho appeared to suck the life out of the team, Solskjaer has undoubtedly brought the feel-good factor back, typified by the efficient and enjoyable performance on Friday.

Solskjaer has made a difference throughout the team. There is a different feel to the centre backs, Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof are strong in one-on-ones, not panicking on the ball or making last-ditch tackles.

It would be easy to play Lukaku through the middle and when he started on the left against Arsenal, my first thought was, ‘Wow. How would he (Solskjaer) feel playing in that role?‘ But then, if you recall, he often did play out wide for Manchester United, and effectively too. That message clearly got through to Lukaku, who was very effective. And then there‘s Alexis Sanchez, whose body language is totally different, for the first time in a long time, which is incredible man-management in itself.

There is a spring in the likes of Lingard and Paul Pogba who look ready to pounce when their team-mates get the ball. They were like machines running at the same pace on the break for 90 minutes on Friday. Pogba left opponents for dead when he sprang into action with his majestic strides.

And then he can bring on Martial and Marcus Rashford. Can you imagine how the Arsenal players must have felt seeing them come on for the last 15 minutes? Ten weeks ago, that substitution, under Mourinho, would have probably proved meaningless, but as soon as the pair appeared by the touchline, I was sure a third United goal was coming.

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From a team that was struggling to get into the top six, United are now Champions League contenders and, with Harry Kane and Dele Alli out for lengthy spells, who would bet against them toppling Tottenham?

The positivity is as high as it has ever been. That is why the board is clearly happy for Solskjaer to put out positive messages about the futures of David de Gea and Martial. They can get the same, if not more, money anywhere, but a Manchester United which is seriously competing again is a completely different proposition.

As for Arsenal, didn‘t I say be careful what you wish for last season when their supporters were begging to get Arsene Wenger out of the club?

It did need a change and Unai Emery requires time. In my opinion, a manager must have two transfer windows before he can be judged, which will allow him time to get players in but, more importantly, get the players he doesn‘t want out. And yes, I am referring to Mesut Ozil.

Arsenal were very good going forward on Friday but just not ruthless enough in front of goal. I don‘t think they are going to qualify for the Champions League and that is going to make it even harder for Emery to attract new players and get Arsenal back into top-four contention. He has a job on his hands.

Sunday Indo Sport


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