New manager bounce is a curious phenomenon.
Sometimes just the psychological effect of a change in regime is enough to unshackle players who appear almost beyond repair.
Rarely have we seen such an obvious example in recent times as man United’s lift since the appointment of Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s as interim manager.
Convincing victories over Cardiff, Huddersfield and Bournemouth have borne 12 goals, just under 30% of United’s total league goals this season.
Paul Pogba has embodied the ‘new look’ (or should that be old look?) United, bagging back-to-back braces to become the first player from the club to score more than one goal in consecutive Premier League games since Wayne Rooney in 2012.
Speaking after United’s latest win, the Frenchman said: “We won games with the old manager but it is a different style of playing now as we are more offensive and create more chances.
“That is how we want to play.”
The friction between Mourinho and Pogba was hardly kept secret — in fact it was livestreamed on Sky Sports News for the most part.
Many fans questioned why the £89million midfielder flourished for France at the World Cup, but struggled at club level.
Some bizarrely suggested the frequency of his haircuts was evidence of a lack of professionalism — despite the fact these critics’ heroes drunk ten pints every Tuesday night.
In reality, Pogba’s style did not suit Mourinho’s philosophy.
Can you criticise Pogba for not being able to adapt his game? Possibly.
Can you criticise Mourinho for not giving arguably the club’s best player the right platform to benefit the team? Absolutely.
Can you blame Pogba for becoming disillusioned in such a scenario? Not at all.
We should not expect two goals a week from prime Pogba, he’s not really that type of player.
But his success against Huddersfield and Bournemouth shows the benefit of his presence in the final third.
Sceptics are quick to type ‘it’s only Cardiff and Huddersfield FFS’ and other such put-downs.
Short memories aplenty; Mourinho’s United drew with Southampton and Crystal Palace this season, they lost to West Ham and Brighton.
A particularly infuriating feature of Mourinho’s final days at Old Trafford was his constant moaning about a lack of financial support.
It was as if he could not carry on without Harry Maguire to solve his centre-back crisis, despite the fact both Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof were purchased during his tenure.
Mourinho’s keenness to throw money at United’s problems was concerning, as he didn’t appear to be coaching/improving the players he had.
For example, three weeks ago, Mourinho claimed Marcus Rashford’s finishing could not be improved as the attribute was ‘about natural qualities’.
“I wasn’t born with it,” he said. “I studied finishing, I studied goals, I studied movement.
“It’s about scoring loads of goals during training sessions. If you haven’t scored enough during the session then finish the day off by doing lots of finishing – and finishing is different to shooting.
“If you work at it in training sessions then you will just do it naturally during the game.
“The one way of getting better is by practising – on and off the pitch.”
There is no guarantee that Rashford will suddenly average a goal every other game from hereon out, but at least Solksjaer is actively trying to improve his players, rather than moaning about them.
The baby-faced assassin (that’s Solskjaer, not Rashford) faces tougher tests ahead, most immediately a trip to Spurs on the 13th January.
However, already he has shown the merits of optimism, and laid bare Mourinho’s failings.
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