This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
When Manchester United slipped to an embarrassing 1-0 defeat to Newcastle on October 6, the writing appeared to be on the wall for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Reports in the aftermath of the game suggested that he was fighting for his long-term future at Old Trafford, with claims that a heavy defeat in their next outing against Liverpool could prove to be the final nail in the coffin.
Crucially however, the clash against their arch-rivals was preceded by an international break. And boy did United need it. The Red Devils had the chance to regroup, get back to basics and quite simply for those selected by their respective countries, be far away from the turmoil surrounding Old Trafford. The time away from the spotlight and pressure no doubt proved to be the tonic to a lot of the side’s cures, and their subsequent run after that certainly showed that.
After halting Liverpool’s flawless run to the Premier League campaign with a hard-fought draw, Solskjaer’s men rattled off five wins in six games – with their only blip coming in a 1-0 reverse to Bournemouth. Four of their five victories saw them score more than one goal – something they couldn’t do since the opening match of the season.
So after beating Brighton 3-1 on Sunday afternoon, the last thing United would have hoped for is another international break. The last one seemed perfectly timed for them; this one just feels like a completely unnecessary nuisance. When you’re on a run of form and the confidence is flowing back as a result, you just want to keep on going, playing games and picking up wins.
This latest round of internationals essentially dissipates some of the feel-good factor, and could lead to the Red Devils coming back on November 24 against Sheffield United with none of the momentum that they had desperately gained.
Where before the stars seemed aligned for United, now the club could suffer contrasting fortunes to what they previously enjoyed.