Is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the right man to carry Manchester United forward?


There seemed to be contrasting views regarding the job vacancy at Manchester United, but now it seems to have narrowed down to two candidates – 1). the caretaker boss, aka, the baby-faced assassin: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and 2). The man behind the revelation at Tottenham Hotspur: Mauricio Pochettino.

Talking about what’s not ours seems a bit disrespectful for the time being, so I’m going to have my opinions on Pochettino reserved to myself as of now and focus on the man who brought back smiles to our gloomy faces, just over a month ago. It might seem a bit reactionary when United want a boss to be their permanent manager after just eight games in-charge, albeit having a 100% record. It’s not however. It isn’t about the seven games, it’s about what the seven games represent.

The atmosphere around Old Trafford has changed altogether. There’s this newly injected positivity as to how everybody associated with the club feels during games and the off days. I’m not going to talk about the generic ‘players being released of their shackles’ stuff, as obvious as that is. Being a manager of a football club isn’t just about training players during sessions, walking the team out of the tunnel during matchday and giving press conferences.

It is more than that. It’s about connecting with everybody at the club, be it the players, medical staff, coaching staff, stewards, security and cleaners. It’s about maintaining a healthy relationship with those associated with the club, being approachable to anybody who seeks help and prioritising the club’s needs over one’s own. This is what Sir Alex Ferguson highlighted in his autobiography as one of the most important traits a manager should have. Solskjaer has ticked every one of the boxes mentioned above.

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The first challenge of being a good manager is to be a good human, only then one can be a good manager. Solskjaer has a history with Manchester United, most notably 20 years ago when United won the treble. Ever since, he hasn’t looked back. He knows the values this club is stands for, he sticks to the principles of the foundation of this beautiful club and has so far excelled in bringing the identity of ‘the most romantic club’, as the gaffer would put it.

Solskjaer breathes Manchester United. He actually seems like a man with a plan and is surrounded with like-minded people of different generations as his crew. Michael Carrick and Kieran McKenna will bring the much-needed modern ideas to be implemented in the training sessions, whereas Mike Phelan (the closest person United could get to Ferguson) will bring in his invaluable experience and training methods to improve player’s fitness needed to sustain at this level.

However, one aspect of Solskjaer’s reign which hasn’t been gotten enough notice is that so far, he seems to be a ‘yes man’ to the Glazers. He may be the perfect fit from the board’s perspective, not for footballing reasons, but for financial reasons and that’s not a good sign. There’s every chance the board will hire him because he seems to be content with the present squad and won’t push for transfers as compared to the previous two managers.

Let’s be honest, United have an absolutely amazing squad but they still are two to three players short of winning the Premier League and being a force to reckon with again in the UEFA Champions League. I really hope Solskjaer proves me wrong, realises the weakness and addresses these issues, not letting this beautiful period be a hindrance for new signings. Rewinding a couple of months, it was a popular opinion amongst the fans that United had issues which run deeper than the manager, and rightfully so.

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The United board last summer invested just 13% of its revenue for transfers, having led us to believe we are no longer a family club, rather a business club. Fast-forwarding two months, the fans seem to have forgotten these issues. We, the fans, should not turn a blind eye to what still exists. And more importantly, neither should the manager. Solskjaer and co aren’t so naïve to forget the problems are the higher level just because of this honeymoon period.

So all-in-all United need every department associated with the club to work coherently and successfully for the club to attain the period of sustained success again. Yes, him hitting the ground running so early doesn’t by any means guarantee the honeymoon period will stick on forever. It could, for all we know, end the next match, but that won’t change my views on him. But so far, it’s been magical, eh?

Let’s hope it remains that way for as long as possible, but as it’s obvious from this write-up, the boss isn’t here just for the short-term, he’s damn well serious about the long-term. I well and truly think Solskjaer has what it takes to be the permanent Manchester United manager.

Written by Arjun Venkatesh

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