Manchester United look safe in the top-four race after beating West Ham… but this week promises to be HUGE as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer tries to deliver the tangible success that Ed Woodward craves after almost four years without a trophy
- Scott McTominay scored the only goal as Manchester United beat West Ham
- The victory should put any Champions League worries they had to bed
- Focus will now turn to the second leg of their Europa League tie with AC Milan
- Manchester United need the kind of success that delivers them trophies
The relentless pursuit of success, as Ed Woodward described it this week, will have to wait. For now, the Manchester United hierarchy will just be relieved that their hopes of being back in the Champions League next season seem assured.
This victory over a West Ham side who, on paper at least, still pose the greatest threat of disrupting the top-four should put any worries to bed.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side regained second place from Leicester City and created a nine-point gap between themselves and the Hammers in fifth.
Manchester United’s victory over West Ham all but assures their Champions League status
The Red Devils claimed the win on the back of a second-half goal from Scott McTominay
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will now turn his attention to a big week of cup action
Even with a game in hand, West Ham will struggle to make up that much ground in the final 10 games of their season, and so too now will Everton and Tottenham following their defeats over the weekend.
Solskjaer will want to hold onto second, of course. Progress is a word that crops up routinely in his conversations with the media, and bettering last season’s third-place finish would be another sign of steps in the right direction.
With United’s Premier League campaign now on hold for three weeks, attentions will turn to achieving the kind of tangible success Woodward alluded to when he announced that John Murtough and Darren Fletcher had been appointed as football director and technical director respectively.
The kind of success that delivers trophies – which the club haven’t managed for four years since Jose Mourinho won the Europa League and League Cup in 2017 – and not just being the best of the rest behind Manchester City. No amount of talk can replace that.
The next week will go some way towards deciding if it will change this year. Not quite season-defining but an important week nonetheless.
Ed Woodward is chasing tangible success after nearly four years without a trophy for United
United go into the second leg of their Europa League last 16 tie against AC Milan at the San Siro on Thursday night in a rather uncomfortable position after the Italians snatched a 1-1 draw and away goal at Old Trafford.
Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final at Leicester promises to be equally difficult as United look to end their unfortunate knack of advancing to semi-finals but never any further under Solskjaer.
It could be a very enjoyable international break for the Norwegian or a pretty miserable one depending on the next two results.
It doesn’t help that his team continue to be so up and down. This was another example of United struggling to break down teams who defend deep. Yes, West Ham lacked any ambition for an hour but United lacked the guile to open them up.
Manchester United must now focus on overturning an away goal deficit against AC Milan
On the couple of occasions they did in the first half, Marcus Rashford’s finishing let him down and Lukasz Fabianski produced an excellent save to thwart Mason Greenwood.
Considering the concerns coming into this game were that United might be vulnerable to West Ham’s set-pieces – as they were against Milan on Thursday – the opposite was true when they grabbed the winner from a corner early in the second half.
So a good start to a big week for Solskjaer. Next stop Milan.