Under former boss Jose Mourinho, Manchester United looked spineless and very ordinary. With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at the helm, on a, for now, part-time basis, ‘the Red Devils’ finally look back to their brilliant best. Their defence, although not watertight, as the draw at home to Burnley underlined, have tightened up significantly. The midfield, especially, star man Paul Pogba, are free from the metaphorical shackles placed on them by their ex-manager. While up front, the forwards, most notably, Marcus Rashford, have been revitalised and are brimming with confidence.
Man United were 11 points off ‘the top four’ when they sacked Mourinho, after scoring just 29 league goals in the first 17 games and on zero goal difference, as they had shipped 29 goals by the same stage. However, in the seven Premier league games that Solskjaer has been charge for, United have let in just six goals, scored a whopping, 19 and trail Arsenal, who currently sit fourth, by only two points. Additionally, having won just seven out of 17 league matches under Jose, Solskjaer has led his side to six wins and a draw in their seven league games since he took over. This form is superior to the two contenders for the Premier League title this season, Liverpool and Manchester City. More strikingly, it makes you seriously consider where Man United would be in the league right now, if the Norwegian had have been their manager from the start of 2018/19 and where they could finish next year, if the board stick with Solskjaer.
The Club’s Identity
When Mourinho was relieved of his duties, a club statement read: “the new manager will understand the philosophy of the club, including our attacking tradition.” Nobody understands these ideals more than Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. He played for Manchester United between 1996 and 2007, under the legendary stewardship of Sir Alex Ferguson and was a real ‘fan-favourite.’ Ole Gunnar played as a striker and scored the winning goal in the 1999 Champions League Final in United’s infamous ‘Treble-winning season.’ During his over decade-long stay in Manchester, Solskjaer was involved in teams that played football on the front foot, took the game to their opponents and attacked them no matter the score-line. Solskjaer sets his team up to play in the same way and look how many trophies that style brought Ferguson.
It would be unrealistic to think that Man United’s caretaker boss could replicate the Scotsman’s achievements, nobody could. The other major candidates for the job include Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino and former Real Madrid manager, Zinedine Zidane. Pochettino hasn’t won a trophy in his five years at Spurs though, which would be unacceptable at Old Trafford. Meanwhile, Zidane enjoyed unprecedented success in Europe with Madrid, but his team was packed with superstars like Cristiano Ronaldo. He wouldn’t have this at United, so it would be risky to choose a coach who hasn’t yet managed a club that has good rather than great players in every position. Finally, the mood at ‘the Theatre of Dreams’ hasn’t been this positive since Ferguson was in the dugout and at the end of the season, regardless of where they finish in the league or how well they do in the FA Cup and Champions League, Manchester United should appoint Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as their permanent manager in a heartbeat.
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