Solskjaer got the better off Mourinho and Guardiola within 3 days!

After two disappointing draws against two newly promoted sides in Sheffield United and Aston Villa even the most long standing Manchester United experts had a negative opinion about the next two big matches with high profile managers in Jose Mourinho's Tottenham Hotspur and Pep Guardiola's Manchester City. MUFC were outplayed except for 7 minutes by Sheffield United and failed to be at their best at Old Trafford versus Aston Villa.

Solskjaer outmaneuvered Mourinho first by starting with high intensity attacking their weak full backs such that it moved one of their holding midfielders consistently wide thereby creating space in the middle for Fred and McTominay to dominate the game. It only produced a solitary goal from in form Marcus Rashford a fine volley that was reminiscent of Sir Bobby Charlton's famous thunder shots stuck with full force and the ball dropping just before the keeper who now has to take the additional bounce into consideration. Their equalizer came from a high ball that split the defense with a fine flick over the top by Delle Alli and beat the keeper easily. Rashford's intelligent run gained an early penalty in second half to lead 2-1. Greenwood had started ahead of Martial who was out with an injury, experienced Ashley Young at left back, Lingard created more assists in this one match than in this whole year. Mourinho's return to Old Trafford ended in a defeat.

Inside 72 hours the team had to play in the Manchester derby with City wanting to catch the run away leaders Liverpool who had a 14 point advantage over the reigning champions. Ashley Young rightly rested in favour of Luke Shaw and Anthony Martial back to lead the line. Marcus Rashford yet again was felled inside their penalty area and converted the spot kick while missing two other spectacular chances created by quick counter attacking runs of fabulous four of MUFC especially Daniel James. With only 16 of 38 league games played Rashford has already equaled his best goal tally with 10 goals! Anthony Martial turned around and slotted home a powerful left footed shot that left the City keeper with no chance 2-0 justifying his selection ahead of Greenwood. Substitute Nicolas Otamendi muscled his way to head the goal off a corner 2-1. City had majority possession and their successive onslaught was thwarted by United defending well 'as a team' especially Fred who was immense. Aaron Wan-Bissaka kept Player of the Year Raheem Sterling quiet, captain Harry Maguire headed out most of the balls, Lindelof recovered well from one mistake to block a firm goal bound shot that eventually went over the bar, Luke Shaw wrongly headed a cross to the midfield instead of heading out wide that created the chance for City, Fred and McTominay covered every inch of grass to thwart City, David de Gea was back to his best by sticking to the basics of keeping and caught many shots from de Bruyne, Mahrez and David Silva safely.

The last derby of the decade had Manchester painted red but City had won 10 of the 19 league matches during that time. United fans savoured the win by staying long after the final whistle amid the applause from Sir Bobby Charlton, Sir Alex Ferguson and David Gill. This win further vindicated the vision of Solskjaer rooted in the tradition of MUFC and got the approval of his ex-captain Roy Keane. The match was marred by one racist incident when Fred was about to take a corner. United next face AZ Alkmaar in the match that will decide if United will finish on the top of their Europa League group or not.

MUFC ended the week back in top 6 but the key to sustain the challenge is for them to replicate this form against non-top 6 rivals whom they face next in Everton, Watford, Newcastle and Burnley. MUFC have beaten City, Spurs, Leicester, Chelsea and drew with Liverpool, Arsenal. That's simply impressive. Paul Pogba who last played in the League Cup win over Rochdale AFC in late September on penalties and he incidentally did not take one, was present in the stands to watch the derby perhaps to build bridges and might be back to face Colchester United in 4th round. Financial Fair Play regulations might deter Real Madrid and Juventus from making a bid for Pogba in January with MUFC and Solskjaer now in strong position to choose the Frenchman's next outcome.

These two wins against more fancied teams Solskjaer has shown real tangible progress on the field with limited squad that has won the doubters over given several constraints like clearing the deadwood to improve team dynamics, injuries of up to 9 players and inconsistency resulting from integrating youth. Solskjaer and the team meanwhile deserve every right to relish the moment that eclipses the triumph in Paris. This new high is also reflected in the stock price of 18.69 seen last at the start of transfer window in July and all of a sudden the peak 21.21 before that PSG away win is not far off. Board must however rename the stock ticker of MANU!

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