The atmosphere under Jose Mourinho at Manchester United was somewhat toxic before the legendary Portuguese manager got sacked just before Christmas but the 2-0 defeat to Paris Saint-Germain shows that the team is still a work in progress.
The club appointed club legend and fans favourite, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer but even Premier League odds couldn’t have predicted the impact the ‘baby-faced assassin’ would have on the team.
Since taken over, Solskjaer has completely revamped the team, with a number of key players stepping up when it matters, and there have been talks that the interim manager could be handed the job full-time in the summer.
However, reports have suggested that the United board will only give Solskjaer the job permanently if the team knocks out French side, PSG in the Champions League first knockout stages. Both teams face off later next month, and while this draw was made in December, it seemed like one-way traffic. Notwithstanding the two goal deficit, United’s form since that time has been nothing short of spectacular, and the Red Devils should be confident of knocking out Thomas Tuchel’s team.
First off, Brazilian superstar, Neymar is out injured after breaking the fifth metatarsal in his right foot and has been ruled out for the foreseeable future. While Les Parisiens still boast other world class stars most notably Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani, but Neymar’s absence makes PSG weaker. Another thing working for United is momentum. The United players have imbibed the much needed gusto since the arrival of Solskjaer, and while PSG have quality, they are not unbeatable. PSG have been beaten this season by Liverpool and if United take the game to them, they can have joy.
Thomas Tuchel is a man that likes to tinker with selections in a bid to outsmart the opponent and keep his many elite players happy, but his rotation has cost his team at certain times this term. The second leg comes up at Le Parc des Princes in March with the away fans desperate for a big European night, which could signal the beginning of something special this term, akin to Chelsea’s triumph in 2012.
While the game itself would be very difficult, United are not underdogs and if they progress, there won’t be any inquest. The tide has changed and the fans can dream once more.