Olé, Olé, Olé – Manchester United fans were delivered the ultimate Christmas gift with a 5-1 goal victory over Cardiff City. Putting aside the fact that Cardiff City are lower placed on the league table, this game represented the shackles of Jose Mourinho coming off to be replaced by the style and baby-faced grace of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
When Man United finally acted on Mourinho overstaying his welcome just a week ago the initial relief of ending a frustrating two years quickly made way for a renewed sense of energy under caretaker manager Ole. As a player for United from 1996 to 2007, Ole is a favourite son returning home. He scored 126 goals in his 366 appearances as striker for the team.
Sports scientists will tell us that Man United players covered more distance and, more importantly, increased the number of high intensity sprints than any time under Mourinho – the shackles literally came off. Mourinho is renowned for his conservative, defence-focused style that revolves around reducing his teams possession of the ball with the intention of increasing the oppositions mistake rate. As Ole told BT Sports, “The easiest thing to work on is your work-rate. Because of the occasion, maybe they made a run or two more than normal.”
One game does not make a season, though it is encouraging for fans of United to witness the early transformation to an attack focused squad where one-touch football reigned supreme. Players in any sport will put the effort in if they embrace and believe in the coach.
Olé to that!