Football, paraphrasing Forrest Gump, is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you are going to get. When Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over the Red Devils and managed to string in series of victories, he was like the second coming of Christ for the fans.
After he was made the permanent manager, however, things started going south. Right now, with 10 losses in 28 Premier League games overall, he has the lowest winning percentage of all of Sir Alex Ferguson’s successors.
But it is the plague that flowers the kaleidoscope; the darkest part of the night that paves the way for the first ray of dawn and Solskjaer might be finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel as his side have now won five of their last six matches.
It seems as though Manchester United could end up in the top four by the end of the season if everything goes in their favour, and here are three reasons why…
3. Midfield Finally Showing Signs of Life
When Manchester United signed Fred for over £50 million, fans were convinced that they had a quality player at their disposal. The fact that he cost so much and was also wanted by Pep Guardiola certainly worked as a fuel for those assumptions.
However, things haven't turned out all too well for the Brazilian… until now. Sitting in front of the defence, he is finally doing what he does best: breaking down attacks of the opposition while also regulating play with his passes.
Meanwhile, Scott McTominay has always been United’s most consistent midfielder ever since his introduction to the team. He is a strong presence in both the boxes and together with Fred, has formed a solid base in midfield for the Red Devils.
The best part, however, is when Paul Pogba returns from injury. The Frenchman will now have the luxury of a solid base behind him and can attack with much more freedom with the double-pivot ticking.
Manchester United are also looking to add to their midfield, possibly in January, and that will only improve their paper-thin squad and aid their cause.
2. Martial's Galvanising Presence in Attack
Anthony Martial put the fans in a frenzy on his debut against Liverpool as he blazed inside from the left, took on a couple of defenders and placed the ball past the ‘keeper in the slickest possible way.
Big things were always expected of him and after a few seasons of stagnation, he seems to have found his love for scoring again. Indeed, the Frenchman has scored twice from two matches in Europe and has three goals and assists, each, from seven matches in the league.
His numbers are only but a small reflection of a player who is enjoying his football as he looks like someone who genuinely wants to make a difference in the final third as he could have had a hat-trick of assists in United's last match against Brighton.
His movement around the opponent's box now has more intent and with some potential acquisitions in January, United could provide him with a proper creator, meaning that he could thrive even more.
The return of Martial from injury has resulted in an uptick in both Manchester United and Marcus Rashford's form, with the team scoring three times in three of the five matches he has started. Daniel James too has found it very easy to attack opponents now, as Martial's presence attracts defenders away from him. The trio have shown signs of working well together.
1. Fragilities of the Other Contenders
The Premier League has been an absurd one this campaign. The likes of Arsenal and Tottenham are continuously struggling, and despite the fact that United have been terrible for most parts of this season, they are just a point below Arsenal and two points above Spurs.
Chelsea are playing some fantastic football and are rightfully in third position but they have consistently shown that their defence isn’t all that great as only Burnley have conceded more goals (18) than them (17) among the top 10 teams.
As a result, the Blues could be susceptible to a mid-season collapse. That makes Leicester City, Manchester City and Liverpool the best-placed teams for the top three positions, with a battle between Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham for the fourth spot. United can’t be counted out of it just yet.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side could yet finish in the top four and here are three reasons why