The Premier League is indeed a marathon and not a sprint which is why it is never too wise to get carried away with one result. It is a league that can be fickle and leave a team without confidence when it seemed they were becoming world-beaters. With that being said though, there are times when you can afford to take great delight in winning a certain game, while the confidence gained from that can help build some momentum as could be seen in the Manchester derby.
Jose Mourinho’s return to Old Trafford after his sacking in December 2018 was one of those times, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer coming up against his predecessor. What’s more, is that United were playing Spurs on the back of a disappointing 2-2 draw with Aston Villa and in some ways, looked there for the taking.
A fine 2-1 victory is a massive result then and one that should give United a great deal of confidence going forward. The alternative doesn’t bear thinking about when you consider the narrative around Mourinho and his time at Manchester United. Add on to that the well-known fact that football fans can be quite fickle and suffer from acute knee-jerk reactions and you can only imagine what the atmosphere would have been like.
Indeed, beating Spurs at the Theatre of Dreams is a result that everyone connected to the football club can be proud of in the wake of a few up and down weeks. Beating Manchester City was an even better result and suggests that the Spurs victory wasn’t an anomaly. It hadn’t been all bad prior to these wins though with qualification to the next round of the Europa League guaranteed before the final group game has been played.
Solskjaer’s United have looked very convincing in Europe and find themselves joint-favourites in the UEFA Europa League odds outright market which suggests that the Old Trafford faithful can enjoy a good long run on the continent once the knockout stages start again in February. The Europa League does provide a door to the Champions League next season which it must be said, doesn’t look like opening in the Premier League as things stand.
Lying five points adrift of fourth position with more than half the season to go is by no means an insurmountable task but it would rely on United enjoying a faultless run until May next year. There has been enough evidence to suggest that United will suffer the odd slip up as they carry on learning under Solskjaer so the shootout of the Europa League could well offer more reward than the marathon of the Premier League.
More results like the one against Mourinho’s Spurs would be another step in the right direction but winning this fixture does so much more for the United boss then help climb the league and serves to draw a line in the sand.
The 46-year-old is in desperate need to prove himself as he does battle with Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp, and Mourinho, so it could prove pivotal for his future at the club that he was able to lay a marker down so early on in Mourinho’s Spurs reign as well as beating Guardiola’s juggernaut. Indeed, this will go a long way in making sure that United begin earning back that respect that has been lost over the last six years.