Atalanta 2-2 Manchester United: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer review
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Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may have been handed a blessing in disguise for Saturday’s clash with local rivals Manchester City. Some Red Devils fans could be concerned that Paul Pogba’s suspension may hurt their chances of leaving victorious, but a curious recent record against the Sky Blues suggests otherwise.
Solskjaer got United’s Premier League fortunes back on track last weekend thanks to a resounding 3-0 victory over Tottenham.
Torrid results against both Leicester and Liverpool had put him under pressure before then and more questions came when United left it late to draw 2-2 with Atalanta on Tuesday.
Out in Italy, it was the Cristiano Ronaldo show once again as his injury-time volley spared yet more United blushes.
Pogba started the game in central midfield, although his straight red card against Liverpool dictates that he must serve his suspension in the Premier League.
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Curiously enough, United’s last four victories over City have all been achieved without Pogba in the starting line-up.
Across their last seven meetings, Solskjaer’s record has been a favourable one with only two losses in that timespan.
The most recent 2-0 away win at the Etihad was due, in part, to a midfield trio of Bruno Fernandes, Fred and Scott McTominay, suggesting the Norwegian may have all the necessary tools at his disposal to pull out a result.
Pogba began the season in scintillating form, notching an incredible seven assists across his first four league games.
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That has certainly slowed in recent weeks though, with the next five league games coming and going without another goal or assist to his name.
Amid an ongoing contract standoff and the threat of losing him for free at the end of the season, the relationship between player and club is anything but simple at present.
Thankfully for Solskjaer, he has another option in McTominay who he has praised highly in recent weeks.
The Scottish international has started their last four games in all competitions and was seen as instrumental in getting their campaign back on track against Spurs last weekend.
“[We had] solidity, we got experience together with Cristiano [Ronaldo] and Edinson [Cavani],” said Solskjaer in north London.
“We got more control and we probably got a man of the match performance from Scott McTominay.
“I thought he was outstanding out there and, for me, unplayable.”
And with Pogba unavailable, United may just stand a better chance of beating City, though McTominay will be among those key to getting any result.
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