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United’s season risks chastening end after Solskjær’s promise of fresh start

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s a chastened Manchester United turn back to the Premier League, where their aim of securing a top-four finish will be tested by the visits of Manchester City and Chelsea, at least they can dispense with the nostalgia bordering on superstition that came with Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s mission to rejuvenate his old club.

The more exact parallel was with Barcelona 1994, where Alex Ferguson’s United were humbled 4-0 by the team of Hristo Stoichkov, Romário and a certain Josep Guardiola in a group game defeat that left the English champions unable to advance into the Champions League knockout stages.

His side would win four of the first five Premier League titles, but was being made to realise there were still enormous strides to take in Europe.

Barcelona 2019 did not remotely resemble Barcelona 1999, except in that fact that United trailed for most of the game.

Points against City and Chelsea would be welcome, but United have three tough games left before Huddersfield and Cardiff provide a more gentle end to the season, and three more wins from the remaining five games are unlikely to be enough to guarantee a top-four finish.

Yet had United stuck to their original plan there would at least have been the sense of a fresh start next season, either with Solskjær confirmed or replaced.

While Solskjær has done an impressive job in overseeing an upturn in results, the danger remains that the season will end in anticlimax, with Paris in March just a pleasant memory rather than a portent of exciting times to come.
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