From what we’ve witnessed since his appointment, we’ve seen various sides of Ole Gunner Solskjaer.
We’ve seen ‘The Motivator’
Ole swept into Old Trafford and reinvigorated a deflated squad. On the enigma that is Paul Pogba, he said:
“I want to get the best out of the players. He’s no different to anyone else in that respect.”
Well, that went well !
United began a run of wins and Solskjaer made history with six consecutive wins beating club legend Sir Matt Busby’s record. Rio Ferdinand prematurely announced:
“Ole’s at the wheel, man — he’s doing his thing. Man United are back!”
Rio, like a great many others, got slightly carried away and reality would bite hard towards the seasons end.
We’ve also been exposed to ‘Ole’s Norwegian wit’ recalling Ferguson’s hairdryer approach and his ability to exert his authority.
“Of course, maybe I should get the hairdryer out of my pocket because I’ve got a hairdryer — when my hair needs lifting I use it on myself. But I am also not afraid of, if you like, laying down the law. “
Umm, if it was supposed to be funny, it lost translation from Norwegian to English. Perhaps hairdryer jokes are the norm but this was, in fact, a reference to the Ferguson days, when the Scot blasted his players at half time for underperforming.
One can’t imagine Ole using the same technique or achieving the same results. In fact, Solskjaer is so nice that a dressing room revolt isn’t out of the question in the long term if results aren’t going to plan and tactics come into question. Players these days tend to push the manager forward to the cliff edge, before slapping them on the back and inadvertently pushing them over.
If that toxic atmosphere develops, Solskjaer strikes me as brittle and vulnerable. However, he has a tiger on his side in Mike Phelan, who was the ‘good cop’ to Ferguson’s bad tempered and unpredictable cop.
The various sides of Solskjaer continued to reveal themselves as the season wore on, we were also treated to ‘Media Ole’ which was a breath of fresh air after Mourinho’s downbeat press conferences. He sat in the hot seat looking like Benjamin Button reassuringly saying the right things and chanting the Fergie mantra and the press lapped it up.
We’ve had ‘Philosophical Ole’, who reluctantly acknowledged that Manchester United were not going to be a force in the premiership in a hurry.
“We know and understand that every year can’t be just all rosy. Sometimes you don’t want to accept it, but you have to. This year we have been below par. We have a way to go and big improvements to make, I know that and that’s the challenge.”
With the very obvious collapse of United in mind, the amount of rebuilding required and the desperate need for them to compete at the highest level, it’s fair to ask if Solskjaer is too nice to succeed.
Can he deal with the stars to bring them in line or ship them out? Does he have the resilience and experience to make the type of decisions that will be landing on doorstep anytime soon?
Well, no he doesn’t. Fact !
The man who took charge of Cardiff only to see them relegated in 2014, has never had a managerial job that comes with so much baggage. The history and the expectancy are beyond anything he could have imagined and although he is a United man through and through, the size of the task is daunting.
The success of the Ferguson years have cast a shadow in the corridors of Old Trafford that have, in many ways, inhibited the club and proved too much for its mangers since he called time on an illustrious career.
Solskjaer’s last managerial role was at Molde FK, not to be confused with Mold FC and plays to a capacity crowd of 11,800-capacity in the Aker Stadion. It’s a club that normally indulges in free transfers and loans and if you have a car and a bike, you are probably considered to be the equivalent of David Beckham.
The contrast between United and Molde are not black and white, they’re more blue and beige.
The expectations at Molde are probably on a par with those of Altringham FC, who slugged it out to win the Cheshire Senior Cup in 2008.
So with this in mind, can Ole go the distance with Ed Woodward in charge ?
A man so out of his depth he drowns in a daily basis. A man who rubbers stamped Mourinho’s impractical signings and allowed him such free reign. The route cause of United’s failures and the architect of their fall from the pinnacle of domestic football.
The guardian of this historic club that said there would be no announcement on Mourinho’s successor until the end of the season and then, within months and at a time that United were prospering, appointed the Norwegian.
Ole’s main issue is that he has no technical director of football in the mould (no pun intended) of ‘Monchi’ or even ‘Mislintat’, someone who could help him find the players he needs to replace the ones that aren’t performing. Someone with a global network of scouting talent that can help him build for the future.
More worryingly, United are looking at ex midfielder, Darren Fletcher for that role. Athough he’s not expected to be a ‘transfer guru’, so what exactly is the point ? Another Woodward balls up.
More knee jerk appointments, with no experience at a time when United need to put their house in order and dig their way out of the hole.
So, United on paper are currently in a bad place, Woodward, Phelan and Carrick are hardly the Avengers, heralding new beginnings and fresh starts, although at least, Phelan brings much needed experience and savvy.
Unless something miraculous happens before the new season and Solskjaer, by some miracle finds all the pieces to the United puzzle, he may well be on borrowed time without a single result or ball being kicked.
This is the type of pressure that comes with the prestige of being the United manager and lets be clear, the club’s current predicament will not be solved by a handful of superstar signings. They are way beyond that.