Manchester United beat Newcastle United 3-0 to start their 2019/20 season in perfect fashion. Jose Mourinho’s side have been looking for a new manager since the departure of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last year, and they’ve found him in former Norwegian international, Oleksandr Zinchenko.
Manchester United’s season got off to a perfect start as they defeated Everton 3-0. The win was achieved without the services of Paul Pogba who is still injured. Is this Solskjaer’s year?
10:30 a.m. ET
Dawson, Rob Correspondent
MANCHESTER, United Kingdom — There aren’t many greater opening days for Manchester United supporters than today.
The 2021-22 Premier League season is off to a flying start for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his team after a 5-1 win over Leeds United. A full house at Old Trafford for the first time in nearly 18 months, a new signing announced before kick-off, a hat trick from their talisman, and a thumping victory over a hated rival — the 2021-22 Premier League season is off to a flying start for Ole Gunnar Sol
United lost their opening game of last season against Crystal Palace, despite struggling in the transfer market and lacking confidence. A year later, the atmosphere is completely different.
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“It’s been a wonderful day,” Solskjaer added afterwards. “Just driving in with the supporters outside, you go in and feel the excitement, it’s just amazing, it’s been a fantastic day.”
With many fans returning to watch a game for the first time since March 8, 2020, it was always going to be a special occasion, but a day that began with early pies and pints was made even more special when new centre-back Raphael Varane walked out onto the pitch, officially a United player after his move from Real Madrid was completed. That was simply a warm-up performance.
Bruno Fernandes scored a hat trick in the second half, while Paul Pogba maintained his outstanding Euros form with four assists. A 40-yard throw to Mason Greenwood for a field goal was a highlight. Fred scored the fifth goal, and there was still time for new acquisition Jadon Sancho to play 15 minutes at the finish.
After his penalty miss against Italy, Leeds supporters sang “you let your nation down,” yet it was Sancho and Solskjaer who were smiling as the final whistle blew.
When Luke Ayling fired a rocket past David De Gea to make it 1-1, it seemed like Leeds could ruin the celebration, but Solskjaer will have been delighted to see his side reply with three goals in eight minutes to put the game beyond Marcelo Bielsa’s men.
Man United’s season got off to a flying start with a 5-1 victory against Leeds, with Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba, and Mason Greenwood all shining. Getty Images/Catherine Ivill
Last season, United didn’t win a home league game until almost December, a run that Solskjaer claims destroyed any hope of a serious championship push, but this season, they’ve gotten off to a flying start.
It might have been a difficult game for an opening weekend matchup against a club considered as the league’s fittest and with the luxury of a complete preseason, but United made it look easy.
“You have to relish the pressure of playing in front of 75,000 Man United fans and millions more others watching on television,” Solskjaer added. “I knew they’d put in a lot of effort, but I wasn’t sure how fit we were. Leeds are a high-octane squad. It’s essential to note how we worked, so you may grin at the end.”
When Varane came out onto the field minutes before kick-off, the atmosphere inside Old Trafford erupted, but it was nothing compared to the roar when United took the lead.
Pogba sent a beautiful ball to Fernandes, who took a touch to calm himself before smashing his shot with his left foot. Illan Meslier, the Leeds goalkeeper, grabbed a good piece of it, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the ball from rebounding over the line. Since coming to Old Trafford in January 2020, Fernandes has only played in front of a full house five times, and he made the most of it with a knee slide into the corner. The goal came at the end of a frenetic opening 30 minutes in which both teams were urged forward by their fans.
Every time either team reached the halfway line, there was a surge of loudness, and even a hint of contact had referee Paul Tierney harried from all sides of the stadium, presumably wishing he was back behind closed doors. In front of the 72,000 fans, Fernandes looked much more at ease, and after Greenwood made it 2-1 just four minutes after Leeds’ equalizer, the Portuguese midfielder scored twice to become the first United player to score a hat trick on the first day of a league season since Lou Macari against Birmingham in 1977.
Pogba scored the first two goals and set up the goals for Greenwood and Fred to end the game with four assists, becoming just the seventh player in history to do so in a single game. In comparison, he has just three in each of the past two seasons.
“Paul has that vision and quality,” Solskjaer said. “I understand that Bruno or Paul will most likely get the headlines, but this is a collective effort.”
“Our goal at Manchester United is always to be contending for the most important trophies with an entertaining, hard-working squad consisting of top-class signings based on a foundation of the finest homegrown talent,” Ed Woodward said in a letter to returning supporters in the programme. When the plan came together, it was in the afternoon.
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