Ole Gunnar Solskjaer turning Manchester United into title contenders, says Gary Pallister
Manchester United’s return to the Premier League summit justifies the work Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been doing for the club, says former defender Gary Pallister.
United’s 1-0 win over Burnley sent them top of the table at the 17-game mark for the first time since their 2012/13 title-winning season under Sir Alex Ferguson and crucially moved them three points clear of champions Liverpool.
Solskjaer has faced criticism throughout his reign at Old Trafford but now takes his side to Anfield on Sunday – live on Sky Sports – with the possibility of extending that gap, and Pallister believes United’s recent performances are due to the Norwegian’s good work since he arrived.
Asked if Tuesday’s win at Turf Moor felt like a big moment for United, Pallister replied: “It did. To hit the top of the table, albeit just after Christmas was a great feeling.
“It’s been a long road back there and it’s justification for Ole and the way he’s been talking about his team and how they weren’t very far away from clicking. To move to the top of the table last night justifies the work he’s been doing.
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“I’d love to say yes they can win the title and yes I think they can. If I was a betting man, I would probably say it’s an evens chance.
“They’re playing some terrific football. That front three with Fernandes and Pogba behind them, if they’re hitting their straps every week or most of the time, I think they can be a real strong challenge.
“We’ve had ups and downs with this Manchester United side. They’ve shown frailties at times and that’s something Ole’s been trying to address.
“We’ve had false dawns when Ole first came in and then straight after the first national lockdown some of the football we played was fantastic. Then we slipped into being sloppy, conceding goals at the start of games. If you can keep this sort of level, then they can challenge, but it’s all about finding that level more frequently.”
Pallister: Why not get excited?
United are now unbeaten in 11 Premier League games, an impressive turnaround since losing at home to Arsenal in November.
Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville refused to rule out his former club winning the title and encouraged fans to “get carried away”, a message Pallister reiterated.
“Let’s get excited about it. It’s been a long road,” he said. “A club like Manchester United should be up there challenging most seasons and what we’ve seen since Sir Alex left hasn’t been great.
“I don’t think we played particularly exciting football or the brand of football we’d expect from Manchester United, but I think that’s something Ole has tried to bring to the fore since he’s come into the club and we’re reaping the rewards right now.
“There’s a confidence throughout the team. I’m not saying they’re going to win the title. I think Liverpool and Manchester City are still going to have a say in the title race, but it’s set up for such a big game on Sunday.
“If you can beat Liverpool on their patch that would send out a real message.”
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