Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has got off to the best possible start as Manchester United manager – and has already achieved several firsts in his month in charge.
Solskjaer was appointed caretaker manager at Old Trafford on December 19 and quickly got his doubters on board with a 5-1 win at Cardiff City in his first game in the dugout.
He has followed it up with a further five victories, most impressively over Tottenham at White Hart Lane, and will equal a Premier League record with another win against Brighton this weekend.
Solskjaer is the first United manager in history to win his first six games in charge.
That run includes five consecutive Premier League victories, which only Carlo Ancelotti and Pep Guardiola can better. Solskjaer will equal their record of six straight wins should he lead United to three points at Brighton and would then have the chance to better it with a home game against Burnley at the end of the month.
Wins in those two games would also give Solskjaer the longest winning run in the Premier League of any manager since Sir Alex Ferguson. He has already beaten David Moyes, who only ever managed four wins in a row, while Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho both managed six in a row.
In taking 18 points from 18, United have completely eradicated the eight-point gap to fifth-placed Arsenal that existed when Solskjaer was appointed.
8 – Manchester United were eight points behind Arsenal when Ole Gunnar Solskjær became their caretaker manager on December 19th but are now level on points with the Gunners. Recoup. #TOTMUN pic.twitter.com/PcCAkf4Af0
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 13, 2019
The 5-1 win at Cardiff in Solskjaer’s first game represented the first time United had scored five in a game since Sir Alex Ferguson’s final game in charge back in May 2013, more than 2000 days ago.
The Red Devils went on to score three, four, two and two goals in their next four games, meaning they had scored two or more goals in five consecutive games for the first time since April 2008 when they beat Bolton, Liverpool, Villa, Arsenal and drew with Middlesbrough.
Marcus Rashford has started all five Premier League games under Solskjaer so far, meaning he has now started nine in a row for only the second time in his career. If he is again chosen to lead the line against Cardiff, it’ll be the first time he has ever started 10 in a row.
Rashford has had 21 shots in those five games, equalling the number he managed in his previous 15 Premier League appearances under Mourinho. He has scored in three consecutive league appearances for the first time ever.
Solskjaer has also found a way to fit Anthony Martial into the same team as Rashford. Mourinho named the two in the same starting XI on only 15 occasions out of a possible 93 in the Premier League, but Martial has also started four of the five games in the competition under Solskjaer so far.
Another beneficiary of the new style of play has been Paul Pogba, who has created two or more chances in all five of Solskjaer’s league games in charge having done so on only six of his previous 15 appearances under Mourinho. With four goals and four assists, no player has had a direct hand in more Premier League goals than Pogba since Solskjaer took charge.
Incredibly, Opta revealed United had as many ‘fast breaks’ in the first half alone against Spurs as they had managed in the first 17 games of the season under Mourinho.
Solskjaer has been widely credited for his tactics in targeting the space behind Spurs’ full-backs behind Wembley, and the end result was United’s first win of the season against any of the other ‘big six’. In their five other games under Mourinho they took only two points.
Solskjaer has also already equalled Mourinho’s record of one away win against any of the other big six. But whereas the sacked United boss did not manage it until the eighth game and had 13 attempts in total, Solskjaer achieved it in his first game.