Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Manchester United’s rapid climb up the Premier League table has shown why the Old Trafford board stuck with him.
United will go top of the standings again if they beat Fulham on Wednesday, in the game that will see the Red Devils reach the 19-game halfway mark in the 2020-21 campaign.
Despite relinquishing top spot to Leicester City after the Foxes beat Chelsea on Tuesday, United have played one fewer game and can go two points clear of Brendan Rodgers’ men.
The transformation in United’s Premier League fortunes has been astounding since early November, with a 3-1 win at Everton coming at a time when Solskjaer was looking on rocky ground.
Although a Champions League exit in December was a jolt, on the domestic front they have taken 30 points from the last 36 available in the Premier League to hurtle up the table, and United have been rewarded for the faith they have shown the manager.
They had stood a lowly 15th after six games, with only seven points, and Solskjaer said on Tuesday: “Hopefully I have proven that I can help the club going forwards.
“Personally I have felt very strong backing and leadership from the club, which has made the journey that we’ve been on – ups and downs – clear.
“The position we are in now is due to loads of hard work by everyone. We are halfway through the season and we are up there.”
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) January 19, 2021
Solskjaer, given his 11-year playing career with United, knows that sustained excellence is demanded at the club, and he accepts that the hard work is just beginning.
United have shown they can hit a hot streak and barrel their way up the league, but now comes the challenge of showing they belong in the upper reaches.
The size of the club is not in doubt, but the team have only exceeded 70 points once in a Premier League season since Alex Ferguson left almost eight years ago.
“It is not about getting there once,” said Solskjaer, whose United have not won the Premier League since 2012-13. “That is the easy bit, to go up the league.
“Staying there is the challenge and that is the challenge we are looking forward to – focusing on every game and building this squad and hope that in the end we can lift the trophy. That is when you can talk about moving the team where it should be.”