Since arriving at Manchester United as caretaker manager last December, Solskjaer has had a rollercoaster ride. His appointment saw United go on an incredible run with the Norwegian winning 14 of his first 19 games in charge. This included that famous 3-1 win against all odds, away to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champion’s League round of 16 (BBC).
Marcus Rashford’s stoppage time penalty is the pinnacle of Ole’s time at the wheel, with the result essentially sealing his future as the permanent United boss. That moment will go down in club history and emphasised the fantastic turn around the Reds had made.
Three weeks on from that mammoth result and the announcement was made that Solskjaer would take on the permanent role in charge (Man Utd).
Have fans started to turn?
We are now eight months on since that decision was made, and the same United fans that were so desperate for him to be hired have now started to turn against him. Results have fluctuated with performances just as inconsistent.
Since becoming the permanent manager, Solskjaer’s side has won just 11 out of 29 games in all competitions, and with the recent sacking of Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino; questions are being raised about Ole’s future.
Any United fans sceptical of Solskjaer’s credentials were surely won over by the brilliant run which peaked with that night in Paris. However, it may be time to admit that the decision was made too soon.
Is he the right man?
He is the perfect man for the club. Any football fan would dream of a club legend returning as a manager to lead their team back to glory. But maybe United supporters and even the board got carried away with the romance of it all.
There is no doubt that Solskjaer bought change and energy into the dressing room. It is something we see so commonly in football. When a new manager comes in, there is an immediate revival as players start to believe again; but this doesn’t always last.
What Solskjaer does have on his side is his legendary status which will surely buy him more time. Furthermore, the club ethos was instilled in him as a player and he will be extremely familiar with the philosophies of developing youth and promoting free-flowing, attacking football.
Since his arrival, we have seen United’s youth burst onto the scene with Brandon Williams and Mason Greenwood featuring regularly. There have also been chances for Angel Gomes, Tahith Chong, and James Garner.
We have seen glimpses of United playing promising, attacking football with Daniel James, Anthony Martial and Rashford attacking with fluidity and intent. Unfortunately, Solskjaer’s tactics haven’t always worked and maybe they have been over-reliant on youth.
There appears to be a lack of apparent leaders on the pitch and very few senior players who can set the standards for the youngsters. There is no surprise we are seeing inconsistent performances from United as a result.
Is he the wrong manager?
Although he is, without a doubt, the right man, maybe he is not the right manager. He knows the club inside out and had the fans on his side from the get go.
But there is no denying that his managerial experience was lacking. His first spell in charge with a senior side saw him return to former club Molde where he led them to their first and second Norwegian league titles.
Despite this success in Scandinavia, when he was hired as Cardiff City manager, Solskjaer was unable to save the Bluebirds from Premier League relegation. Cardiff slipped back down to the Championship where they didn’t fare much better, losing three of their first seven matches (Independent).
After just nine months in charge, Solskjaer stepped down and returned to Molde.
Bringing Solskajer back to United was exactly the uplift that everyone at the club needed. His enthusiasm and passion were clear for fans to see and the players responded, leading them on a sensational run.
However, the decision to hire him on a permanent basis was the incorrect one. He simply didn’t have the experience to be in charge of one of the world’s biggest clubs. It would have been a safer bet for the board to bring in someone who Solskjaer could work alongside and learn from.
Is it time to sack him?
No. Sacking the United legend would cause an uproar among a lot of fans and contradict everything the club is trying to do. They made the decision to hire him and now they must back him.
United are in a period of transition and Solskjaer has shown glimpses that he could have a long, successful future at the club. His team is trying to play the right way and he is doing what United fans have been calling for; ridding the club of deadwood and bringing players in for the future.
Being the manager of Manchester United has seemed an impossible job for anyone in recent history. In the years following Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, United jumped from manager to manager with little to no success. It is time for them to stick with someone and allow them to rebuild.