Sir Alex Ferguson returns to Manchester United as a consultant

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Despite a second placed finish being secured last season, United have struggled this term and were left in sixth place, 11 points off the top four, when Mourinho suffered his final defeat in charge against Liverpool at Anfield.

Juan Mata says the return of "legendary" Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Manchester United means it is time for optimism at Old Trafford. And today I think it clicked really well and you saw a lot of that today - and a really special goal I feel in the third goal.

Solskjaer's stint as caretaker manager got off to a fine start with a 5-1 thrashing of Cardiff City at the weekend - a performance entirely at odds with the increasingly turgid offerings served up by Jose Mourinho during the closing days of his Old Trafford reign.

"Seeing the way we played, I don't see why we can't if we keep playing like that".

"Just to be positive".

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"If you lose the ball, win it back, and play the United way - attacking football, entertaining football". That's tradition, that's history and that's how we play.

For the first time this season, United outran their opponents against Cardiff.

"It's a win-win situation for me with Ole. You never feel sorry for them", he said. If they do well then great.

"It's not going to happen in every game that you create chances like we did on Saturday". We know also it's not only the manager's fault when the results are not good.

The best Christmas present for many United fans may be the gift of being able to look forward to games with a sense of anticipation again.