Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been slated at times this season because of various things, mainly because United were not fighting at the top of the Premier League table, entering the title race with Liverpool, Manchester City and Leicester City, the top three teams inn the table. There has been other things too, namely United’s inability to win matches, during certain parts of the season.
I am going to call it woke, as these people seem to think they are the front runners for all things factual, yet seemingly not knowing what a fact is at the same time. In truth, Solskjaer has been building something at United, sorting out the foundations first, then taking it from there. Some people do not understand this and just seem to criticise all of the time, which is boring, mundane and shows lack of thought and imagination.
It is clear, to some at least, that Solskjaer has a plan that he is working towards. Before football was closed down globally because of the Coronavirus pandemic, United were doing much better on the pitch, undefeated in eleven matches, 29 goals scored, two goals conceded and nine clean sheets; three of those against two of the top six in the Premier League – Manchester City (twice) and Chelsea.
One player that has come out to confirm what Solskjaer did for him is the latest striking sensation Erling Braut Haaland. Managing him at Molde during the 2017 and 2018 seasons, a season does not cross into two different years in Norway, Solskjaer picked him a total of 50 times, with the Norwegian scoring 30 goals for the club and starting his journey, of which he has travelled a long way so far.
Haaland left Molde for the Austrian Bundesliga, playing for Red Bull Salzburg during the 2018/19 season and part of the 2019/20 season. The 19-year-old played a total of 27 times for Salzburg, scoring 29 goals for the club. This put him in the shop window, so to speak, which resulted in him making the move to Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga in Germany. He has become a goalscoring sensation at the club.
Playing 11 times before the pandemic shut down the game, scoring 12 goals, which shows his development in the game. He has played in four different leagues in three different countries, playing 104 times and scoring 61 goals. Haaland feels that he owes some credit to his lethal finishing to Solskjaer, who gave him the opportunity to learn – something which seems to have worked. Haaland said:
“Before that game, Solskjaer and I did some practice on finishing. Not just crosses. I remember he taught me some easy rules.
“That was something he taught me in the days before that game. He has taught me a lot to be calm, and also be on your toes and come to those situation where the ball is coming.
“It is then you have the chance to score. He deserves a lot of credit for teaching me that.
“I remember it was frustrating as a young striker, everything goes against you in training.
“I was alone with the keeper and the bar, got crosses from Ole Gunnar [Solskjaer], but I missed on every opportunity.
“I remember Ole then said ‘I think you start this game, so just be ready’.”
Haaland is not the only player to speak well of Solskjaer. January signing Bruno Fernandes, who arrived from Sporting CP after six to eight months of speculation, has also been positive, revealing that Solskjaer himself was part of the reason he decided to sign for United. He stated that the confidence shown by Solskjaer was the main deciding factor in what could become a £68 million move, if clauses are met.
It seems quite clear that Solskjaer has a plan at United. Fernandes’ arrival at the club has shown a massive improvement, especially in the midfield. The player has made a total of nine appearances, scoring three goals, assisting a total of four – playing 667 minutes of football in the Premier League, UEFA Europa League and the Emirates FA Cup. Speaking in a recent Q&A session on the official Manchester United website, Fernandes said:
“For me, the most important was obviously the confidence of the coach.
“I need to know I am backed from the coach, because sometimes when you change club, not every time the coach wants you.
“Not like I need to come because the coach wants me to play, no, not like this, but I want to feel the confidence from the coach. You come, you are a choice for me and you come. I need you, I want you, it’s not like you come and I ask but I will play?
“No, this for me is not the point. For me, the point is the confidence he has in me. If he has confidence in me, then the rest is working.
“I need to work to conquer my place, to play, to keep going with games and games and games.”
Fernandes also confirmed that he had taken notice of United for a long time, ever since him compatriot, Cristiano Ronaldo, made the move the the club in the summer of 2003, seemingly replacing the void left by David Beckham that summer. Ronaldo became a star at the club, playing 292 times, scoring 118 goals, and 69 assists – playing 22,342 minutes of football and winning three Premier League titles, one FA Cup, two League Cups, one FA Community Shield, one UEFA Champions League and one FIFA Club World Cup. Fernandes said:
“Joining Manchester United was so easy because since I was a kid, it was a dream, so for me, doing this step, a big step to the Premier League to Manchester United was perfect.
“I looked at Manchester with more interest when Cristiano [Ronaldo] was here because it’s normal when you have Portuguese players in some teams, you look at them more than other teams.
“But at that moment, I started to look at Manchester in a different way because you see Cristiano but then you see also the team and you have Paul Scholes, you have [Wayne] Rooney, you have [Ryan] Giggs and you have Roy Keane, [Eric] Cantona before.
“You have a lot of players… I don’t know… [Ruud] van Nistelrooy… I can stay here for hours saying all the names of players for Manchester United. Also Nani, who’s played with me.”
As football seems to be on the back burner right now with no matches planned for the next month and training on the hiatus, Solskjaer will have more time to plan his next moves, especially with the upcoming transfer window, which could well be delayed as the Premier League season looks set to run into the summer, maybe beyond. United have been linked with many players already with Solskjaer looking to continue his rebuild.
Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish seems to be one of the names being bandied about, along with Leicester City’s James Maddison and Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho, which rumours on this transfer seemingly developing positively, although it could just be the same shoddy journalism that we have seen over the years, with them maybe trying to continue their clickbait articles to guarantee an income.
One thing is sure, we shall see exactly what Solskjaer is capable of when football resumes, as the form United were in, along with the unbeaten run they had, being stopped suddenly which will leave United trying to build something from nothing again, just like all the rest of the clubs in the Premier League, Europa League and the FA Cup for the remainder of the season. Solskjaer is the man for United, why can’t people see that?
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