Take Manchester United’s 2018-19 season as the latest example of what a positive atmosphere around a club can do for results on the field.
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When Jose Mourinho was fired on Dec. 18, Man United sat sixth in the Premier League table and had won just two of their last eight games. Under the direction of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the Red Devils have failed to win just twice in 13 games (all competitions) and have climbed up to fourth in the PL, along with reaching the quarterfinals of the FA Cup with a resounding 2-0 victory away to Chelsea on Monday.
After their triumph at Stamford Bridge, Paul Pogba, who’s been nothing short of a born-again megastar under new management and raised the bar once again with a goal and assist on Monday, praised Solskjaer for creating an atmosphere — built around “trust” — that the players once again enjoy, and that is a big reason why the club’s fortunes have turned around so sharply — quotes from the Standard and the BBC:
“He trusts us and we trust him. We go for it. You never know if you are going to win it, but we will play to win.”
“It is a beautiful win. Today was a great performance from the team, all of them. It wasn’t easy. We did it. We are really pleased with that win.
“The team helped me get to my best. I give everything for them. They help me score goals and get assists. We are enjoying playing together.”
As for Solskjaer’s tactical approach, which has seen Pogba more involved in the attack than during Mourinho’s rigid tenure, it’s clearly by design, and it’s clearly suiting Pogba well:
“The tactics worked. We asked Ander (Herrera) and Paul, our midfielders next to Nemanja (Matic), to go a bit higher and get into the box more often with Rom (Lukaku) and Marcus (Rashford) wide, so it worked.”