United push past Leicester to claw back into Champions League

Updated: Jul 31, 2020

It was always a question of what team would finish behind Kloop's energetic Liverpool, and Pep's City team of vibrant technicians. Many pundits refused to even consider the possibility that it could be Ole Gunnar Solskjær's rebuild project at Manchester United.

I told the boys that no matter what happened today, we've won. The players have shown their qualities as a group. They've taken on board what we want and they're looking more and more like a Manchester United team on the pitch. The environment there is so much better than it was before - Ole Gunnar Solskjær

To be fair Solskjær's team had dug themselves a wonderous hole. Yes, there were reasonable contributing factors, such as missing key contributors, that were mostly outside of his control, however the grand summation of these series of unfortunate events was a dreadful start to the season. It was a start so dire and unwanted, it won the ugly pageant of being the worst start in at least three decades. A formidable separation had taken hold, the distance between the red devils and Leicester City was an eye popping 15 points at one point.

United had to hit the restart button, the acquisition of the Sporting Lisbon skipper, Bruno Fernandes, a street wise mercurial talent, was just the spark the devils needed when they were running on fumes. The slender, quick thinking Portuguese ignited the team in lieu of the injured Pogba, and the results started to swing United's way. Then came the daunting task of chasing down the teams at the top. United had to go on, and maintain, a furious run just to catch up, while building on their goal difference - the importance of which, by all accounts, was hammered into Ole by Alex Ferguson himself. It ultimately paid off.

Solskjær's devils rode their rocket full blast, small wonder why the United team looked utterly spent in the last matches. Fatigue is the greatest predator of concentration, you could plainly see the weariness take hold and team sharpness dull away. Fundamental mistakes and sloppiness found fresh haunting ground in the team. Ole's over reliance on a stable first team meant former lieutenants like Mctominay and Fred were frozen out, resulting in a lack of match fitness, and thus could not be counted upon as reliable reinforcements at critical junctures of the run-in even though they made cameos.

So after zipping back up the table, the high speed chase was still in danger of ending with the devils careening off the cliff on an empty tank. The visit to the King Power stadium was always going to be an exercise in resilience. The United backline, which had just recently been thrust into turmoil by the shaky displays of Harry Maguire, a fading warrior who had withstood and had been present for every second of this furious campaign, and David De Gea whose detiorating concentration level between the posts had fans frantically reaching for the defcon one button.