Manchester United may very well be leading the Premier League halfway via a season for the primary time in eight years on Tuesday.
Not that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer cares an excessive amount of.
“Nobody remembers the January league tables,” the United supervisor mentioned Monday, a day earlier than his workforce plays away towards Burnley with the possibility of climbing above Liverpool into first place by avoiding defeat at Turf Moor.
The final time United was prime after 17 video games of a league marketing campaign, Alex Ferguson was in cost in what proved to be the ultimate season of his lengthy managerial tenure at Outdated Trafford. United went on to win the 2012-13 title by 11 factors.
Since Ferguson retired, United hasn’t added to its report haul of 20 top-division titles, ending as low down as seventh place one season.
Solskjaer mentioned he believes it’s tougher to win the league in comparison with when he was enjoying underneath Ferguson from 1996-2007, throughout which era United was champion six occasions and confronted challenges to its dominance from Arsenal after which Chelsea.
“It’s vital for us to begin to present ourselves up among the many prime 4,” Solskjaer mentioned. “We now have solely been prime 4 3 times since Sir Alex left, so if we are able to try this once more after ending third (final season), if you happen to can enhance on third, it’s progress.
“Once I performed, it was a distinct ball recreation. We have been actually disenchanted if we didn’t win the league. We have been third as soon as, and most of the time we have been challenged by one workforce. Now the league is totally different, so many different groups can problem and have a look at themselves as candidates to problem the highest groups.”
Certainly, 4 factors separate the present prime seven in the league approaching the midpoint of the marketing campaign. West Ham, in tenth place, is barely seven factors behind Liverpool.
Second-place United is tied on factors with Liverpool, however behind on purpose distinction. United plays at Anfield on Sunday.
“It’s that sort of season, that sort of yr, that sort of state of affairs,” Solskjaer mentioned, referring to the condensed nature of the pandemic-affected season, “and there will likely be ups and downs, much less consistency in outcomes and performances.
“For me, it’s thrilling. As a fan, it’s extra fascinating of course when there are extra groups in and round one another in comparison with final season when one (Liverpool) ran away.”
United has been enjoying catch-up all season, having began it every week later than most groups as a result of of its involvement in the ultimate phases of the Europa League in August.
Solskjaer’s workforce additionally bought off to a troublesome begin, dropping 3-1 at residence to Crystal Palace in its first recreation and 6-1 to Tottenham at Outdated Trafford in its third recreation.
“Generally with the outcomes we bought in the start, it made it harder for the gamers, possibly,” Solskjaer mentioned. “It made it simpler for folks to criticize us — you have a look at the desk and possibly fear. As a result of a recreation in hand is barely good if you happen to win it.
“It made it tougher for gamers mentally to take a look at the desk. Even if you happen to don’t have a look at the desk, folks hold speaking to you, hold speaking away about your place.”
And Solskjaer struck a tone just like Ferguson when he spoke of March and April being the important thing months in a title race.
“The league desk doesn’t matter now, however you choose up factors and once you get to March, April, that’s the place the league goes to be kind of determined,” he mentioned. “We knew that this season was going to be troublesome for us. We began later than everybody, we had this recreation to catch up and we didn’t have a preseason.
“I bear in mind I mentioned that we simply want to hold in there for some time … I meant selecting up factors, getting the efficiency proper, get the factors on the board and don’t let groups run away with it. We’ve completed nicely.”