Is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the right man to replicate the Alex Ferguson era?

Photo Credit: Goal 

Sir Alex Ferguson’s tenure as United manager brought unparalleled glory to the club and with 38 trophies won, the Scotsman is the most decorated coach in the club’s illustrious history, as well as one of the greatest coaches of all-time.

Manchester United won the first Premier League campaign in 1993 and over the next 20 years, a further 12 were won, with the final one coming in Ferguson’s final season as manager.

There were also several other trophies won in other competitions as well as the treble of League, Cup, and Champions League in 1999. 

However, things have since turned and Manchester United have themselves been knocked off their perch and clubs like Tottenham, and two heated rivals in Liverpool and the ‘noisy neighbors’ Manchester City have usurped them on the hierarchy. 

In the post-Ferguson era, Manchester United has changed 4 coaches. David Moyes, the man selected by Sir Alex Ferguson, has proven himself at Everton, but he hastily dismissed class if he couldn’t even last a season; Louis Van Gaal, a grandmaster, led the Dutch national team before taking office. He won the third place in the 2014 World Cup, but he only left as an FA Cup champion for Manchester United; Jose Mourinho, once considered the most suitable coach to succeed Sir Alex, won three championships at Chelsea In his coaching career, he led Porto and Inter Milan to win the Champions League and other outstanding results. Ole Solskjaer, a star of the Red Devils, had a perfect start at Manchester United and reversed in the Champions League Greater Paris.

The squad clearly struggled under Moyes during the 2013/14 season, as they only managed to finish 7th in the league, and as a result, missed out on European football.

There is no other way to describe his spell with the club except for ‘underwhelming’ and ‘disappointing’. The only silver lining from his reign as boss were his 2 notable signings, as both Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata were brought in during his 6 months as a Red. 

The 2014/15 season was certainly better than the previous campaign, as United managed to finish 4th in the league and qualified for the UEFA Champions League after being absent from a European competition for the first time since the 1989/90 season; however, United’s performances were very one-dimensional, unappealing, and lacking in any type of creativity.

After seemingly taking a step forward in the previous season, Manchester United took two steps back during the 2015/16 campaign. After a 4th place finish in 14/15, which guaranteed Champions League football, they only managed to finish 5th in the league, and crashed out of the Champions League in the group stage.

The 2016/17 campaign under Mourinho was one of the most successful since Ferguson’s departure, as United won three pieces of silverware with the Community Shield, the League Cup and the UEFA Europa League. While they only managed a measly 6th place in the league, their Europa League triumph guaranteed them a spot in the Champions League.

After a trophy studded 2016/17 season, Manchester United achieved their highest points total and league finish since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013, finishing in 2nd place with 81 points in 2017/18. 

IS OLE RIGHT MAN FOR THE JOB? 

Ole Gunnar Solskjær, also known as the baby-faced assassin, took over as caretaker manager after Mourinho was shown the boot. With Ole at the wheel, his newly rejuvenated United team went on an 11-game unbeaten run, winning 10 games, keeping 5 clean sheets, and scoring 28 goals.

Manchester United’s 2019/20 campaign looked promising though, and it was his first full season in charge. He seemed to be going in a different direction to what previous managers were in terms of signings, as Ole brought in players that filled the massive gaps in the starting XI rather than just buying superstars. He brought in Harry Maguire for a world record transfer fee for a defender, and he slotted right into back-line and took on the captaincy at the club.

It is important to note that this school of thought is relevant to any one of the previous 3 managers, but gains more credence when you consider Solskjaer’s history at United and what he has done off the pitch in most areas.

Patience is something synonymous with Manchester United.

Sacking another manager simply means starting this process all over again, an operational standard that works at manufactured clubs like Chelsea and Manchester City, but one that has been proven time and again to fall flat on its arse at Manchester United due to the club’s traditions and DNA.

This isn’t a case of OleIn or OleOut, but one of ManagerIn, build for success. 

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