The Difficult Period Now Facing Manchester United Boss Ole Gunnar Solskjær
Manchester United are currently stepping into the unknown, victims perhaps of a ‘new manager’ bounce that might just have forced them into making a grave error of judgement.
The José Mourinho era was toxic, a battle of personalities that overshadowed everything else. It seemed that Mourinho versus Pogba was more important than Manchester United as a whole.
For one of the biggest clubs in the world, it was shameful, not so much that it started but that it was allowed to continue as long as it did.
By the time Mourinho was dismissed, United had fallen so far behind in the Premier League betting markets that few could see a way forward for them.
Enter Ole Gunnar Solskjær, the baby-faced assassin who made it his lifetime ambition to manage the club. He still had a terrace chant, his name often ringing out from the Stretford End even when he was flopping at Cardiff, or moving into obscurity at Molde.
His return seemed to be little more than a PR exercise at first. Those in charge thought, rightly so, that they needed to reconnect to their fan base. What better way to do that than bring in an old favourite? Okay, he hadn’t exactly shone at Molde, but that didn’t matter.
Manchester United were already crashing and burning, so why not go out in a blaze of goodwill by giving the supporters a hero in the dugout. That’s exactly what they did, to unexpected results.
Who expected Solskjær to succeed? Very few of the most die-hard supporters would have backed him to progress in Europe, but that’s exactly what he did. He took a world-class team of players who had been performing like a Championship side and got them playing again.
Fuelled by belief from the stands, United thrived. They won matches, often at a canter, and competed with the best in the country. It became impossible for Solskjær not to get the job permanently.
Had the powers that be ignored the will of the fans, there would have been a riot at Old Trafford. Few players have the sort of rapport that the Norwegian does and, as soon as he won a few games, the club were backed into a corner.
If they didn’t appoint him, all the good work he’d put in would have been wasted. They did what they had to do – appoint him.
They’re now stuck with a manager who, up until he stepped foot into Old Trafford, had won two Norwegian titles and a domestic cup, nothing more. His track record in England didn’t make pretty reading and in truth, they’ve tied themselves to a gamble.
One of the biggest clubs in the world has rolled the dice on a 46-year-old who had previously won just nine matches in England as a manager and, in England, had only lifted the Lancashire Senior Cup with Manchester United reserves.
The new manager bounce has gone and now Ole and United move into the difficult ‘post-honeymoon’ status. It might just be the case that the match seemingly made in heaven a few months ago could turn very sour, very quickly.