With five wins mustered from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first five matches as caretaker manager, it would appear that all is well again at Manchester United heading into 2019.
Morale among the squad seems to have improved dramatically since the purging of one Jose Mourinho in mid-December — so much so, in fact, that the players reportedly already want Solskjaer to be given the job full-time.
Ever since he came in as caretaker, Solskjaer has almost exclusively worn the endearingly broad smile of a man who cannot believe their good fortune.
But he has shown he is more than just back at Old Trafford for a lap of honour by equalling Sir Matt Busby’s record of five wins from his first five games in the dugout.
As you might expect, that smile has been just as broad and endearing since United travelled out to Dubai for a mid-season break.
The mood is so buoyant at the warm-weather training camp, a stark contrast to the downcast atmosphere of less than a month ago.
One look at the social media output emanating from within the camp seems to prove that everything is rosy once again at United, with Marcus Rashford — himself a rejuvenated figure of late — leading the way.
— Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) 7 January 2019
Jesse Lingard shared the same photo of Solskjaer instructing his players during their mid-winter getaway to Dubai on Instagram, this time adding a “teacher’s hat” emoji.
Paul Pogba arrived after the rest of the squad, following treatment he received for his on-pitch clash with Newcastle’s Jonjo Shelvey.
Elsewhere, Romelu Lukaku shared an image of himself taking part in a training session with the unmistakable beaming smile of a striker who has fallen back in love with football after scoring three goals in his last three games spread across his face.
Away from the pitch, Juan Mata, Ander Herrera, Eric Bailly and David De Gea all looked suitably relaxed during a night on the town.
As United themselves confirmed, there really are positive vibes all round at the moment.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) 8 January 2019
Even Solskjaer’s No. 2, Mike Phelan, has been so overcome with glee that he’s delved into his summer wardrobe.
— Mike Phelan (@Mike_Phelan_1) January 7, 2019
If the long overdue reintroduction of smiling proves to be the sole enduring legacy of Solskjaer’s tenure then there’s still a lot to be said for it. It’s something we haven’t seen from United players and staff for quite a while.
Indeed, it’s nigh-on impossible to envisage such a light-hearted missives being shared during the sour, semi-tyrannical reign that came before.