FOR a while Manchester United had become just like any other club.
Sometimes up, sometimes down, or, in Louis van Gaal’s case, sideways and back.
The odd Cup here and there, managers and players coming and going.
Money was being thrown at the problem in a desperate bid for United to regain their place at the top of the pile.
Twitter, Facebook likes and deals with tyre companies in the Far East were the straws being grasped at to prove their dominance, not the football itself.
What Sir Alex Ferguson had built up over 27 years was now only evident in the bricks and mortar of Old Trafford and a museum that was increasingly relying on the past.
The most precious thing, the spirit and ethos, that was so much a part of the club had slipped through their grasp.
In a recent press conference Ole Gunnar Solskjaer pointed sideways and said “it’s in the walls of this club”.
Everyone shot a glance sideways as if he to see something tangible, because it had long gone.
The three previous managers had seemed to dismiss the idea of United’s lasting greatness.
The message was that everyone was living in the past, people had to wise up.
There were new kids in town and it was time to get real.
Because if United fans have enjoyed anything over the years it is hopes and dreams.
Sir Alex Ferguson gave them those and made them reality.
Solskjaer helped to do that on the pitch but all the time was immersing himself in the genius of the man for a later day.
He had dreams himself that he could become the boss and continue the work.
It is why yesterday he greeted the announcement of his permanent appointed in the same way he acknowledged his winning goal 20 years ago in the Champions League Final at the Nou Camp.
Arms outstretched, a broad smile. a sense of awe.
“I am beyond excitement,’ he said.
There was a boyish charm in that statement that stood out.
Nothing arrogant in it, but at the same time not trying to under play the moment.
It was a moment United fans worldwide will have celebrated.
Because since Solskjaer has returned to the club it has been like finding that winning lottery ticket just in time.
Just before the club began to slip into an abyss.
The reconnection with a glorious past has been evident in everything that has happened since he took charge on an initial interim basis in mid December.
The gloom that had engulfed the final days under Jose Mourinho was blown away with a smile and a vision of the future based on a glorious past..
The speed in the football that had been lost in five wilderness years returned.
The potential of young stars was being realised again.
The belief that anything was possible, even when 2-0 down to Paris Saint Germain heading into an away leg.
That incredible turnaround to win the second leg 3-1 and progress to a last eight date with Barcelona said it all.
Nothing is ever lost, no problem insurmountable.
The picture of Sir Alex, Eric Cantona and Solskjaer with fists pumped in the dressing room of the Parc des Princes afterwards may go down in history as the moment United said; ‘We are back’.
It won’t be plain sailing, of course
What Manchester City have built up with a long term strategy that had Pep Guardiola at its end is something formidable.
If Liverpool can shake the weight of history off their shoulders and win the title this season, they will be back on their perch.
The threat from the new White Hart Lane will be dependent on whether Spurs can find the cash now to strengthen a team as well as build a stadium.
Arsenal and Chelsea will not go away.
Executive Vice-Chairman Ed Woodward will make sure Solskjaer has to the cash to create his team.
What he has already brought out of many of the players already at the club has been priceless.
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The atmosphere at Old Trafford is now as good as ever.
It’s because, something that was feared lost has been found again..Manchester United.
The Manchester United Sir Matt Busby and Sir Alex Ferguson wanted it to be and one that Solskjaer has recovered.