Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had big boots to fill when he took over as the head coach of Manchester United following Jose Mourinho’s departure. But has that role been fulfilled properly?
The Norwegian is one of the most bipolar managers in the Premier League. One week, Solskjaer might be watching his side lose consecutive matches and by the next week, he’d pull off an unexpected win to seemingly turn things around. Rinse and repeat this formula and that perfectly sums up the former Molde boss’ time at Old Trafford.
“On the pitch, while there is still hard work ahead to achieve greater consistency, we remain absolutely committed to the positive path we are on under Ole as the team continues to develop.”
Tensions rose among fans after United lost 2-1 to Istanbul Basaksehir in the Champions League, but things calmed down following the 3-1 win at Everton. It is almost as if Solskjaer becomes a different kind of manager altogether whenever his job is on the line.
For instance, United failed to win against Arsenal and Istanbul Basaksehir and Solskjaer was consequently put under significant pressure. But somehow, the Red Devils pulled off an emphatic and convincing win over in-form Everton at Goodison Park.
However, the Mancunians are yet to register a win at home in the Premier League this season, having played at Old Trafford 4 times already this season. This is the worst start to a Premier League season for the club based on home form and is certainly not a good stat for the gaffer.
In contrast, the Norwegian manager pulled off a dramatic away win at Paris Saint-Germain and absolutely dominated and demolished RB Leipzig at home in the Champions League this season. These were games the English giants were not expected to walk away with maximum points, and yet the favourites were beaten fair and square.
FT: ? Man United 5-0 RB Leipzig ⚪️
A five-star performance from #MUFC with goals coming from Greenwood, Martial and a hat-trick from Rashford.
"A breathtaking performance from Man United" – @chris_sutton73
— BBC 5 Live Sport (@5liveSport) October 28, 2020
Looking at last season’s league table, it is surprising that Solskjaer managed to drag United to a third-place finish and qualified for the Champions League against all expectations. Chelsea and Leicester City looked more likely to secure the third and fourth place but ultimately, the latter dropped down to the Europa League spot.
However, it can be argued that United’s Premier League position last season depicts a false image. United did finish third, not because of their performances but due to the failures of Arsenal, Chelsea, and Leicester. These three clubs failed to take points where there were expected to and ultimately paid the price.
Moreover, the Old Trafford outfit had several referee decisions go their way, sometimes arguably unfairly, in key moments that gave them a massive advantage. Thus, it’s not exactly false to say Solskjaer’s tactics and brains played little part in United’s third-place finish in the Premier League.
Nevertheless, having sacked David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, and Jose Mourinho since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson, Woodward is under a lot of pressure due to his failure to find a stable solution for the managerial job. Should the former Red Devils striker be relieved of his duties as well, it would be another failure on the Englishman’s part and it certainly reflects poorly of him.
But it all comes down to one thing right now and that is damage limitation. A solution has to be found before the current boss carries on for too long and crashes the season. This is not to say the ex-United star should be sacked, but the point is that it would not be a reactionary or unwise decision to do.