Pogba explains Solskjaer’s secret: ‘He trusts us, we trust him’

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.
When Jose Mourinho was fired on December 18, 2018, 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 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.”
Meanwhile,
during Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's short reign as Manchester United manager it has been refreshing to see players whose careers were seemingly fading away all of a sudden become world beaters once again.
Where Jose Mourinho would have complained and sought alternatives, Solskjaer has found solutions.
It really is easy to forget quite how recently Nemanja Matic was being derided as past it, Paul Pogba was the man United needed to get rid of - rather than Mourinho - and Ander Herrera was a bit-part player who could do a job man-marking Eden Hazard but would frequently lose out in the starting lineup to Fred or Marouane Fellaini.
Since taking the job 13 games ago, Solskjaer has reinvigorated an entire squad, and he has done so with consistent selection in his midfield almost every week.
Matic, Pogba and Herrera have made up United's midfield three in 10 of those 13 games.
Matic and Pogba have taken up two of the positions in all but one game - the 2-0 FA Cup win over Reading when a complete second string played.
The difference has been striking. With Matic central, Herrera stationed to his right and Pogba his left, there has been comfort in consistency of selection.
A great deal was made during Mourinho's reign over how Pogba would benefit from playing on the left side of a midfield three, and although he did often play in that position, nominally at least, he would - either by design or through his own frustration - roam all over the pitch trying to do too much by himself.
Indeed Pogba is having fewer touches of the ball under Solskjaer but is taking more shots, creating more chances, making more tackles and making more interceptions. After his goal and assist in the FA Cup win over Chelsea on Monday night, Pogba has now been directly involved in 15 goals in 12 appearances since Solskjaer took over, having scored or set up just nine goals in 20 games under Mourinho this season.
He has become more efficient in just about every regard since Solskjaer came in, largely through doing less of the sideways, laborious, slow passing that so defined the Mourinho era.
The whole team has improved with less focus on retaining possession. United beat Chelsea with just 33.1 per cent of the ball, and they rarely looked like coming away with anything other than a win.
Both with and without the ball United have looked far more convincing of late. For all of Chelsea's domination of possession on Monday, they rarely posed a threat to Sergio Romero's goal.
While much has been made of United's improvement in front of goal, the presence of a consistent midfield three has given some much-needed protection to the defence.
While Mourinho constantly moaned about not being allowed to buy a superstar centre-back, Solskjaer has set about improving the players he has, and while the midfield has stayed largely the same for each game, he has changed his defence on a weekly basis.
Victor Lindelof, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Eric Bailly, all of whom struggled at times under Mourinho, have been exposed far less with Matic stationed in front of them and Herrera by his side harrying opponents.
Matic is making more tackles, interceptions and fouls under Solskjaer's leadership, while on Monday night, Herrera put in the perfect box-to-box midfielder performance, making six tackles, five interceptions and three clearances - all three were the most of every player on the pitch on the night - while also scoring United's opening goal.
It is hard to believe that baby-faced Herrera has been at United for five and a half years but now, aged 29, he is now a potential future candidate for the captaincy.
He is the victim of playing at a time when Spain have produced a frightening number of talented midfielders, but the fact he does so much of his work out of possession should not mask his technical ability.
That he would mainly come in to do a defensive job for Mourinho does a disservice to what Herrera can do with the ball, and his attacking output has increased across the board since Solskjaer took over.
He does an important job in the transition from defence to attack for United, something they have been doing far quicker under new management. He not onlysparks attacks but is also crucial in relieving pressure on the back four by retaining possession as the team moves up the pitch.
It is an exciting time for Manchester United and for the first time in a long time, that is not the result of a major new signing. Solskjaer's work in raising the confidence of so many flailing players has been tremendous all over the pitch.
Yet is by simply keeping things consistent in midfield that he has swiftly found a way to get the most out of Pogba, Matic and Herrera, and those three are providing the foundations for others to thrive.

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