Seems like a lifetime ago that a certain Jose Mourinho was leading Manchester United on the Old Trafford touchline.
The former boss was criticised from all angles, be it his tactics or his relationships with players and the British media.
United took the bold decision of sacking the former Chelsea and Real Madrid manager in December, with United far beyond the Premier League title-chasing pack and struggling to keep up with the Champions League hunters.
A job as prestigious as this saw many high-profile names linked but it was a certain former forward who was brought in to take over the reins, at least until the end of the season.
Club favourite Ole Gunnar Solskjaer swapped Norway for Manchester when he accepted a caretaker manager role, which will see him through to the end of the current campaign.
Although Solskjaer promised to bring attacking football back to the United faithful, no one could have imagined the former forward would turn the club around as instantly and effectively as he has.
From Mourinho to Solskjaer, from bad Pogba to good Pogba, from attack to defence, here are some of the amazing stats from Solskjaer’s start to life at Manchester United now that 10 Premier League games have passed.
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1. Premier League record holder
Solskjaer’s opening game couldn’t have gone any sweeter. Coming up against a former club in Cardiff City, United stretched their wings and flew away from Wales with a massive 5-1 victory.
And they have managed to sustain this form.
The Norwegian has, in fact, accumulated the most points in his opening 10 games of any manager in Premier League history.
Out of a possible 30, United have picked up a massive 26 points in Solskjaer’s opening 10 games in charge, only dropping points in a last-minute 2-2 draw at home to Burnley and on Sunday afternoon’s goalless tie against arch-rivals Liverpool.
2. Top of the table
United have managed to drag themselves back up into the Champions League places in the Premier League after for so long seeming as though they had zero chance of doing so.
Their form has been so good that they sit pretty at the top of the form league table across the past 10 games, winning a massive five points more than joint second-place Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur (21).
The most impressive thing for United is that they have won seven more points than Arsenal (19) and twice as many points as Chelsea (13), both of whom are their rivals for that last remaining Champions League place.
3. Goal, goals, goals!
What is the one thing that all football fans want to see from their side? Exactly, goals. And there are few places where the demand for goals is so prominent than Old Trafford.
But Solskjaer has met these demands. Since his arrival, United have scored 30 goals in all competitions, averaging 2.14 goals per game. In the Premier League, they have scored 23 goals in 10 games, averaging 2.3 goals per game.
Under Mourinho, it took United 20 games in all competitions to score 30 goals, averaging 1.5 goals per game. In the Premier League, it took them 15 games to score 23 goals, averaging 1.53 goals per game.
4. Defensive set-up
The one obvious thing Mourinho sought to achieve at Manchester United was to make them tough to beat
And so it is brutally ironic that Solskjaer’s defensive record at United since turning them into a more attacking threat is better than Mourinho’s.
In the Premier League, United have conceded just six goals since Solskjaer’s appointment, averaging 0.6 goals conceded per game.
In United’s opening 10 fixtures in the Premier League, they conceded 18 goals, averaging 1.8 goals conceded per game. In Mourinho’s final 1o Premier League fixtures, they conceded 17 goals, averaging 1.7 goals conceded per game.
5. Paul Pogba
A World Cup winner with France last summer, Pogba’s undeniable talent was evident on the biggest stage in football, with the talented midfielder a key cog of the French machine.
His form for United had always been less consistent, with the 25-year-old showcasing moments of class rather than regular effectiveness on the football pitch.
Whether his irregular form was down to tactical demands, issues with Mourinho or just Pogba not being good enough, that has rapidly changed since Solskjaer’s appointment.
In this season’s Premier League campaign under Mourinho, Pogba only directly contributed six times to a United goal (three goals, three assists). Under Solskjaer, he has already achieved 13 direct contributions to goals in the Premier League (eight goals, five assists), more than double the amount he gained under Mourinho.
6. Marcus Rashford
Under Mourinho, Rashford had only scored three Premier League goals this campaign, starting just nine games before Solskjaer’s timely appearance.
Since then, Rashford has scored twice as many goals (six) and started nine of the 10 Premier League games, the same number as under Mourinho between August and late December last year.
7. Comparable with Pep and Carlo
When you think of some of the greatest football managers to have worked in the modern game, these two men are right up there.
Pep Guardiola is quite simply the greatest of his generation, finding success with Barcelona, Bayern Munich and now with United rivals Manchester City.
Carlo Ancelotti has also found great success, including in England where he won the Premier League and FA Cup in his short stint with Chelsea.
However, Solskjear’s start to life at Old Trafford means he – like Pep and Carlo – won his opening six Premier League fixtures, a feat only the two famous names above have achieved in Premier League history.
8. Big-six success
Despite Mourinho’s faults, the former Red Devils boss was given the role as United manager because of his fantastic record of getting trophies.
You would be entirely forgiven in thinking that Mourinho’s record against other top sides would be good, considering the stature of the man in world football.
However, Mourinho only won one – taking eight attempts – of his 13 away matches against the ‘Big Six’ in the Premier League, often coming up short against their league rivals.
Solskjaer managed to beat Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 away from home in his first match against a ‘Big Six’ side and followed this up with impressive away wins in the FA Cup against both Arsenal and Chelsea.
9. From Cardiff to Manchester
Here, it’s worth returning to the fact Solskjaer’s first taste of management in the English leagues was with Cardiff City in 2014 after he took over the club who were struggling to keep their Premier League status at the first time of asking.
Ultimately, Solskjaer was unable to keep the Bluebirds in England’s top division and he eventually left the club just nine months into his tenure in Wales.
The incredible comparison here is that in his opening five fixtures – for which he won them all – with United, Solskjaer earnt more points (15) than he did in his 18 Premier League games with Cardiff (12).
There is no doubt that United’s incomparable talent aided Solskjaer’s attempts but that is still one hell of a turnaround in fortunes.
10. A rare manager-player double
As noted above, Rashford has truly flourished under Solskjaer’s leadership.
Both men have proved their worth over recent weeks and have been duly awarded as a result, with Solskjaer picking up the ‘Premier League Manager of the Month’ award and Rashford the ‘Premier League Player of the Month’ honour.
Manchester United have collected the award for Manager of the Month and Player of the Month in the same month for the first time in exactly eight years:
🏆 Sir Alex Ferguson
🏆 Dimitar Berbatov
🏆 Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
🏆 Marcus Rashford
A classic combo. pic.twitter.com/1iNucwRW9v
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 8, 2019
It is the first time Manchester United have been represented in both categories in eight years, when former Manchester United manager and club legend Sir Alex Ferguson, along with former centre-forward Dimitar Berbatov, won the same honours in 2011.
Having broken an eight-year hoodoo, Solskjaer’s future at Manchester United may well stretch beyond the reaches of this season.