Ole ‘Goner’ Solskjaer?

Since being appointed as permanent Manchester United manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s win rate in the Premier League is just 32%, a figure meagre enough for any manager to get sacked, let alone one of a club who are so accustomed to glory.

Where do the problems begin and end at Manchester United?

The decision to appoint Ole Gunnar Solskjær on a full-time basis in March 2019, after a 3 month period in which he was greatly successful, epitomised the naivety and ineptitude of the United board. For whatever reason, the United board could not wait until the end of the season to take a more balanced, level-headed decision on the managerial appointment. The fans could be forgiven for believing that the initial honeymoon period which saw a huge upturn in results made Ole the right man for the job, but for the board to buy into this delirium exhibits an utter lack of prudence and shrewdness.

In their haste to appoint the legendary former striker as manager, they took a risk which has backfired and the decision becomes ever more questionable and costly as each day passes by.

Last season, when Jose Mourinho was relieved of his duties by Ed Woodward, he had accumulated 26 points from 17 games in the league. This campaign, Ole has managed 25 points in the same number of games.

Manchester United have seemingly settled for mediocrity under Solskjær. In recent weeks, Arsenal, Tottenham and Everton have all fired their underperforming managers and replaced them. While United have dithered and dallied, Everton have been able to allure one of the most decorated managers in the world in Carlo Ancelotti, a man who surely would have been of interest to United.

If United were to sack Solskjær soon, Max Allegri and Mauricio Pochettino would be among the favourites to succeed the Norwegian. Ed Woodward and co. have long been admirers of former Spurs boss Pochettino, but they will have to act quickly if they wish to acquire his services. The Argentine has become one of the most sought after coaches in world football during the last few years and he will have no shortage of job offers.

Hit and Miss Signings

Signings have also been a sticking point of United’s in recent years. The £80m expended to obtain Harry Maguire was exorbitant, excessive and another example of United overpaying for a player. He’s undoubtedly one of the best centre-halves in the league, but his quality still fails to justify such an inflated fee.

Alexis Sanchez was another extortionate mistake, and while Fred has improved in recent weeks, the Brazilian is yet another player who has failed to vindicate such a large price tag. Meanwhile, defenders Diogo Dalot and Eric Bailly have failed to flourish and have subsequently fallen out of favour.

Youngsters Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka have been better signings, but both are still raw and will take time to develop into the class of player that United were previously famed for. They would also both benefit from competition for their places; ironically, they are more nailed on to start for Manchester United than they were at their respective previous clubs, Swansea City and Crystal Palace.

Going back even further, the acquisitions of Wilfried Zaha and Memphis Depay perhaps came too early in their careers. Both have gone on to forge formidable reputations for themselves and proven that the Red Devils should have remained patient with them when they didn’t immediately thrive at such young ages. The star quality they possess certainly wouldn’t go amiss at United at the moment.

Lacking a Playmaker

A lot has been made of the fact that the Red Devils struggle to break down opposition teams who sit deep. United are bereft of ideas when facing low blocks; they are crying out for a playmaker who can control the tempo of games and break teams down with line-breaking passes.

In games which tend to be more open, typically against higher quality opposition, United have enjoyed more success. They have the benefit of being able to utilise the lightning quick pace of Rashford, Martial and James, enabling them to be menacing on the break.

There is one damning statistic which proves this notion. United currently lie in 6th place, and they have amassed 13 points from the 5 teams that sit above them, but just 12 points from the teams below.

With recent victories over Spurs and rivals City, Ole has bought himself more time to prove to the Old Trafford faithful that he’s got what it takes to be successful in the long-term.

On a positive note, Solskjær is bringing the best out of Marcus Rashford this year. The 22-year-old is in sumptuous form, enjoying his best goal scoring season to date. This is perhaps one reason that the United hierarchy have no plans to sack their manager anytime soon.

Another reason for sticking with the Norweigian is stability. Stability is vital for any football club and group of players, and a club who had the same manager for 26 years prior to 2013 know that better than anyone.

For the reasons outlined above, United’s decay is not entirely the fault of the former Molde manager. He is struggling with an incompetent board and an imbalanced squad, but questions remain over whether Ole has the managerial experience and tactical acumen needed to prevail at the biggest club in England. With long-term managerial target Mauricio Pochettino currently out of a job, it would make sense for Ed Woodward to try to entice Pochettino towards Carrington.


Ali Abdi

Politics student writing about football

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