Manchester United reporter's notebook: Man Utd fans optimistic ahead of derby

SSN's James Cooper on how Manchester United's win against Tottenham has given the fans sense of hope ahead of the derby showdown with Man City

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Last Updated: 06/12/19 8:40am

FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Manchester Utd's victory over Tottenham in the Premier League
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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Manchester Utd's victory over Tottenham in the Premier League

Wednesday night's win over Tottenham has injected Manchester United fans with a new sense of hope ahead of the derby against Manchester City, writes Sky Sports News' James Cooper.

Suddenly, almost from nowhere, there seems to be some Christmas cheer among Manchester United fans and optimism too ahead of a derby game that many would have been dreading pre-Tottenham.

Having said that there is an acceptance City will be the favourites on home soil but if you look at the stats both sides have won four of the last 10 games at the Etihad with two draws.

FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Manchester Utd's victory over Tottenham in the Premier League
2:57
FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Manchester Utd's victory over Tottenham in the Premier League

It's a view echoed by United We Stand editor Andy Mitten: "I'm encouraged by United's record away in the derby in the last 10 years.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has shown commitment to young players like Marcus Rashford

"At Old Trafford we've been really bad, I think City have won six or seven of the derbies. But that 3-2 in 2018, they'd set the party up, the champagne was ready to be uncorked, all the families came down, they were 2-0 up at half-time then bang, bang, bang, 3-2 to United and the Rashford winner as well.

"I'm looking forward to the game a lot more than I was before the Tottenham match."

The United manager prizes Scott McTominay's physicality in midfield

The sense of hope in Manchester's red corner is based upon a purple patch for Marcus Rashford which means he has 12 goals in his last 13 games for club and country. Add into that the return of Scott McTominay and the physicality and leadership he brings, mentioned by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, then perhaps it is not the foregone conclusion it may well have been.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says his players enjoyed themselves as they beat Tottenham with two Marcus Rashford goals on Jose Mourinho's return to Old Trafford
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Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says his players enjoyed themselves as they beat Tottenham with two Marcus Rashford goals on Jose Mourinho's return to Old Trafford

"He's been brilliant," says Mitten of Rashford. "He's hit a sweet spot with goals now. I would never have described him as prolific but you can see he's confident.

"I saw him last night drop back to the halfway line, turn and beat two players. He's taking free-kicks, he's getting closer with them. He scored the brilliant free-kick at Chelsea.

"There's a hero emerging there and United have not had enough of them in the last couple of years."

It's been an uncertain time for Solskjaer, but as we enter the season of goodwill it certainly seems the United faithful are prepare to extend some to the boss.

Solskjaer got the better of former United manager Jose Mourinho on Wednesday

"Even the biggest Solskjaer supporters were beginning to have little doubts," says Mitten.

"No matter how many injuries he's had or chances have been missed, that four wins from 14 games was a bad statistic, but a great win against Spurs and he's talking a good game going into the derby.

"I've spoken to him off the record and I see a determination there to get rid of the wrongs and to bring the right youngsters through. But he has to get results in the short term."

Manchester United fans treated Jose Mourinho graciously on his return to Old Trafford on Wednesday night, but enjoyed beating him too.

However it's his words, highlighting his former side's results against the Premier League's big boys that probably mean the glasses of mulled wine in the city centre are half full right now.

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