Solskjaer sees improvement of four United players as key to potential title challenge
One game at a time. Yet such is the buzz about Manchester United right now that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is being asked if the club can challenge for the title next year.
Solskjaer told The Times he does not want to get carried away, but admits the club’s confidence and ambition has been boosted by Bruno Fernandes’ arrival.
The United manager did not want to say too much when quizzed if United can be title challengers. What he did do, was identify four young players who he believes if they continue to improve as they have this season, will help the team get a lot closer.
Solskjaer said: “I don’t want to start thinking too far ahead because Tottenham is on my mind at the moment and it’s a vital game for us but I do feel we are moving in the right direction.
“And given the likes of Marcus, Mason [Greenwood], Aaron [Wan-Bissaka], and Brandon [Williams] a year extra plus the impact Bruno has made here, hopefully we can go on and challenge.”
A trophy this season might be key
A loss to Tottenham tonight would be disappointing, but it would not stop United feeling that next season, a lot more can be achieved.
Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood have both taken big steps forward this year, scoring a combined 32 goals, and both are just scratching the surface of their potential.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Brandon Williams appear to have solved United’s long-standing issues at full-back.
If United do want to have a serious crack at the title next season, the club will have to be active in the transfer market, and add around three top players. But as Solskjaer points out, continued improvement from the team’s top stars is important. Extra signings can help them.
The biggest help for United would be to win a trophy this summer, the FA Cup of Europa League, to build momentum, and then start next season strongly, with a short off-season expected.
The team’s League Cup win in 2006 kick-started one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s best runs, with the team going onto win league titles in 2007, 2008 and 2009, plus a Champions League.
It does not always work out. Jose Mourinho’s 2017 League Cup and Europa League wins appeared to set up a platform for sustained success, and it didn’t follow.
Perhaps the ingredient which was missing there was a core of young improving players, which Solskjaer now has in abundance.
We shouldn’t get too ahead of ourselves, next season itself seems a long way off at this stage. But right now there is genuine hope again at United under Solskjaer.
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