Paul Pogba is enjoying life under interim boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
The French midfielder netted two goals for the second straight game as he assumed the role of conductor in a dominant win over Bournemouth at Old Trafford.
He becomes only the third United manager to win his first three games in charge – Sir Matt Busby and Jose Mourinho are the others – but it’s the manner of United’s resurgence under their caretaker boss that has been so hugely impressive.
Once again, Paul Pogba was the catalyst for Solskjaer. United’s record signing scored twice again to make it four goals in two games and weighed in with another assist.
On both occasions, Pogba struck a pose to celebrate, hands resting on his midriff and a beaming smile as he lapped up the adulation. It’s hard to imagine that it’s only a few weeks since he was booed after coming on as a substitute against Arsenal such has been the turnaround under Solskjaer.
The man branded ‘a virus’ by Jose Mourinho as he headed for the sack has proven to be quite the antidote under the new regime. He scored United’s first two goals here and was denied a hat-trick when he hit the post in the second half.
By then, Pogba had taken to firing passes all over the pitch from every angle, including one which set up Romelu Lukaku for the fourth goal on another uplifting day for United.
You can feel the energy and optimism coursing through the club again, not just on the pitch but in the stands as well. Of course, the fixture list has benefitted Solskjaer.
It’s too early to start the discussion about whether he deserves the job long-term, and this was still far from perfect by United against a Bournemouth team that have now lost eight of their last 10 Premier League games.
They had Eric Bailly sent off late on and Nathan Ake’s goal on the stroke of half-time means they have only kept two clean sheets in the league this season – but that won’t worry Solskjaer too much right now.
He made four changes to the side that beat Huddersfield on Boxing Day, most notably recalling Anthony Martial to the line-up.
MATCH FACTS AND STATS
Manchester United (4-3-3): De Gea 6.5; Young 7, Bailly 5.5, Lindelof 7, Shaw 6.5; Herrera 7 (Pereira 76, 6), Matic, Pogba 8.5; Lingard 7, Rashford 8 (Lukaku 70, 6.5), Martial 7 (Jones 82).
Subs not used: Romero, Darmian, Mata, Fellaini
Goals: Pogba (5, 33), Rashford (45), Lukaku (73)
Booked: Young, Ander Herrera
Sent off: Bailly
Manager: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer 8
AFC Bournemouth (3-4-3): Begovic 5.5; Cook 6, Ake 6.5 (Mings 82), Daniels 5; Ibe 6, Brooks 6.5 (Mousset 66, 6), Surman 6, Rico 5; Stanislas 5, Wilson 5.5 (Fraser 66, 6), King 6.
Subs not used: Boruc, Lerma, Defoe, Simpson
Goals: Ake (45+2)
Manager: Eddie Howe 5
Referee: Lee Mason 7
Star man: Paul Pogba