There is no better evidence of the progress in the Manchester United mentality under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer than the reaction, one of frustration, to a draw away to Leicester City.
The Foxes sit second in the Premier League and are a good team. United might have just deserved to win (something shown by an xG of 2.08 against Leicester’s 1.04) but didn’t finish their chances well enough.
At the full-time whistle, fans, players and coaches alike were disappointed by a 2-2 draw.
Bruno Fernandes, not United’s captain but the club’s leader on the pitch, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer outlined that frustration.
Fernandes: Manchester United players gutted to draw, it is progress
“I was really happy when I got in the dressing room and I saw everyone disappointed and saying the things we had to do better,” Fernandes said to MUTV.
“You are creating a winning mentality and we are not happy with this point.”
If Fernandes’ quotes and the visible anger of the players on the pitch when Mike Dean blew his whistle wasn’t enough, Solskjaer explained the facts too.
Solskjaer: Manchester United players are ‘flat’ after failing to beat Leicester
“We feel disappointed,” Solskjaer told reporters in his post-match press conference.
“The boys are flat in the changing room. Great movement by Vardy. You can’t switch off against quality players. We created big chances. It was a good game of football, end to end at times.”
There is a belief that “Manchester United expect to win” but that has rarely been true over the last four seasons. United have often approached games, perhaps more often than not, expecting to struggle. That is not the case in December 2020.
Trophies must follow progress of winning mentality at United
Solskjaer has gradually instilled a winning mentality at the club. There is some way still to go. United must win a trophy this season after three semi-final defeats in the 2019/20 campaign. They have the opportunity to do so in the EFL Cup, FA Cup and UEFA Europa League still.
To be disappointed by a draw at Leicester, after creating some decent chances, is an undoubtedly good thing. It is a sign of the progress under Solskjaer. Talk has quickly moved from whether he might be sacked to whether he might win a title with the club. The real discussion lies somewhere in the middle. Neither of those two debates helps anyone, but Solskjaer is making steps forward, real progress, with United.
When he first took over, initially as interim manager, Solskjaer constantly referred to ‘DNA’ and ‘culture’, and the ‘United way’. He spoke about Ferguson, his past teammates and mainly the past. After less than a season, that changed towards a focus on trophies, challenges and winning. Now the talk is of titles. It’s been a quick change in focus and it rubs off on the players and how they play.
It also rubs off onto the club’s supporters. Most fans are now eager to watch United play, and even some neutrals too. That has not been the case since Ferguson retired. There is an impatience about United’s fanbase, an impatience for the next game, the next chance to watch their team play. That’s what football is about and it is a credit to Solskjaer. The other thing football is about? Trophies. They have to come soon too.
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