Ole Gunnar Solskjaer leads Manchester United in the Champions League for the first time this week as his team host Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of the last 16 at Old Trafford.
Bookmakers have only given United an outside chance of winning the Champions League this season, but stranger things have happened and it might not be as improbably as people think.
Here’s a look at five reasons why United can finish 2018/19 as kings of Europe.
Paul Ince’s recent comments that he and others could have done what Solskjaer has as United boss were ridiculous, nonsensical, arrogant, ignorant and downright disrespectful.
The ‘anyone but Mourinho’ argument may have been valid for the way the team played against Cardiff in Solskjaer’s first game in charge back in December, perhaps even the Huddersfield and Bournemouth games that followed in quick succession.
But with the passage of time and the continuation of good performances – 10 wins, one draw, no defeats – it has become increasingly clear that the resurgence is now down to Solskjaer, and not simply because he’s ‘not Mourinho’.
Motivating players is the most obvious part of football management, but doing it successfully is much more challenging than it sounds. Much of United’s rejuvenation has come from Solskjaer instilling confidence in the squad that wasn’t there.
Mourinho’s United seemed gripped by a fear of failure. Ironically, the limited and restricted performances made them more vulnerable to it.
Forget the consistent under-performing under Mourinho, this United squad is packed with genuine talent that it would be foolish for the rest of Europe to ignore.
Paul Pogba and David de Gea are world class players who are suddenly performing at the top of their game. Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford are two of the world’s most promising talents, while Romelu Lukaku is forging a role as an impact substitute.
A degree of good fortune will always help in the quest to win trophies.
United had that this time last year in a favourable last 16 tie with Sevilla but failed to take advantage. This time around they may have been blessed as Edinson Cavani won’t be playing for PSG in the first leg, while Neymar is set to miss both.