Solskjaer has come under fire after a dreadful start to the campaign
Solskjaer’s Regime So Far
Ole Gunnar Solskjær took over Manchester United as interim manager back in December 2018 after Jose Mourinho was sacked. United was yet again struggling to break into the top 4 and had been looming around 6th or 7th. The legendary Norwegian was supposed to bring back the “feel-good” factor and set-up a positive environment for a new manager.
Not many expected the Norwegian to bring about a change in the club’s fortunes. Quite on the contrary, he made a fairy tale start to his tenure, winning his first 8 games. It was a magical night in Paris, a trademark comeback win that ensured that the United legend got the permanent job. But what came next was a dismal run of games that saw us finish 6th, with a dreadful 2-1 defeat against an already relegated Cardiff City.
The hope of a strong campaign from a 4-0 win against Chelsea in the season opener soon faded away as Manchester United yet again started to drift towards mediocrity. Consecutive 2-0 defeats at the hands of Liverpool and Burnley in January even threatened a sack. But fortunately, United finally brought in Bruno Fernandes from Sporting Lisbon. And oh boy, what an impact did he make on the team. Bruno became the catalyst for our success as we rapidly rose in the table. Manchester United finished 3rd in the Premier League against all odds, and Solskjaer should be given more credit for it than he is.
Yet Another Frustrating Transfer Window
We went into the summer transfer market with Jadon Sancho our priority target, with Jack Grealish, Dayot Upamecano, and Nathan Ake on the gaffer’s list as well. Astoundingly yet unsurprisingly, we failed to get any of the manager’s targets, yet again. Instead, the board gave Ole players that were down the pecking order. Van de Beek has been the most promising signing, but Solskjær preferred Grealish for his versatility to slot in wider roles. The unavailability of a specialist RW has always limited us in our approach to playing attacking football from the flanks.
While Sancho would have been the perfect signing for us, as he provides everything we need. We instead got two 18-year old RWs who have barely played any senior football, Amad Diallo Traore from Atalanta (who join in January), and Facundo Pellistri from Penarol. I’m really excited to watch them develop but I personally would’ve liked to see someone come in who straightaway slots into the first team. Rather than strengthening the defensive unit, we got a 33-year old Edinson Cavani in what is widely deemed to be a panic-buy.
Solskjær’s United have entertained us at times but problems persist. Graph [Stats Perform]
The lack of proper signings in the transfer window has affected the results, although much of the despair is to be blamed on the players as well for sub-par performances. All the positivity from last season’s finish has dissolved in despair as United have made a woeful start to the campaign. With only 3 lucky points from 9 and a string of disappointing performances from the team, Solskjaer’s job yet again looks threatened, with former Tottenham Hotspurs manager, Mauricio Pochettino waiting in the wings.
Who’s The Right Man For The Job?
Pochettino is a Premier League proven manager and master tactician who is known for getting the best out of his players. He’s counted amongst the best and carries the potential to make a good team a great team. The Argentine was hired as the Tottenham manager in 2014 and he spent the next 5 years at Spurs, building a great team. Poch is known to work under a tight budget and has the tactical awareness to field his players in a way he can use their best traits.
He led Spurs to their highest finish in the last 25 years in the 15/16 season. While a second-place finish with 86 points was their highest ranking in 54 years, and the first season-long unbeaten home run in 52 years. He took them to a historic first UCL Final in 2019 in a dramatic manner. He’s also credited for the development of Harry Kane, Delle Alli, and Eric Dier. However, for all his accolades, the master tactician could win only the Audi Cup in his 5-year tenure.
To be honest, I admit the fact that if we sack Ole right now, no Premier League club would hire him. Solskjær was never hired for his tactical prowess in the first place. He has been a fairly amateur manager and someone who’s learning on the job. If we consider that, then we can actually conclude that he’s done pretty well given his inexperience. The Norwegian led us to an impressive 3rd place finish and 3 semi-finals while playing an exciting brand of football. No fan can deny that it was a joy to watch our team play.
The fact that we as fans cheer for the players when we are performing well as a team and suddenly deem the manager to be a clown when we start losing is what annoys me most. I am of the opinion that the results are down to both the parties and everyone on and off the field should be held equally responsible. Massive individual errors can’t be blamed on the coach, but the rigidity to not change a system when it’s not working is down to the manager as well.
Sack Solskjær, Hire Pochettino - Yes or No?
Jürgen Klopp, now considered one of the best in the business, took 4 years to make Liverpool Premier League contenders while having a supportive board and a great scouting system with a proper Director of Football at his disposal. Mauricio Pochettino finished 5th, 3rd, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th in his 5 years at Spurs, while never winning a major trophy.
Yes, he massively improved the team and worked well under a tight budget. I personally would like to give Ole more time as I feel he has earned the right. In fact, after a 3rd place finish it was expected that the manager would be fully backed. But that was not the case and the ever-present incompetence of the board and owners was yet again evident.
The root of all the issues at Manchester United lies in the ownership and the board. We have bankers and businessmen running this club who merely see this as another source of income. They don’t care about the club’s future or the progress of the footballing side. They don’t care about how far behind are we falling back against our rivals. They don’t care about the fans. All the Glazers want is our money.
I don’t think sacking Solskjær would be a solution as it has never been the case since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure. Every 2 years we hire a new manager, get him a few players, he finishes in the Top 4 and then the board decides not to strengthen the squad. Subsequently, the manager can’t churn out the results and ultimately, he’s sacked.
A new manager is brought in and the same cycle continues. No manager can succeed under these owners. I’m not being pessimistic, but realistic. If we want to succeed as a club, we need to back our managers. I really wish and hope that Ole turns things around and somehow miraculously leads us to a positive finish. If not, then definitely Poch comes in. No doubt he improves us and he’s definitely a more tactically sound and experienced coach.
Realistically, do you think any manager can win us a Premier League title with a similar approach from the Glazer’s and Woodward’s incompetency?
Do you think we can get good players even on a limited budget without a Director of Football?
Do you think we can move forward as a club under the current ownership or their ultra business-centric approach to running this club?
Please let's hear your comments!
Hitanshu (@TheDevilsDen_92) is a writer at large, and one of the global contributors to the Daily Manc team. He is also the creator and chief editor of The Devil's Den.
All opinions and materials of contributor writers are solely their own and do not necessarily represent positions held by The Daily Manc.