Manchester United have reached the UEFA Champions League next season after finishing third in the Premier League this season under the guidance of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, a manager who has been criticised more often than not this season – and that is not just by so-called supporters of the Old Trafford club, pundits, commentators, former players and the like have criticised the Norwegian manager and now it is time for him to show them up.
Criticism is part and parcel of football but there always seems to be a lot more for any manager of this club with other managers seemingly getting a much better ride in the media – Frank Lampard for example. Chelsea have been terrible at times this season and during that time, Lampard was largely praised for the work he is doing at the club. Solskjaer, who has done things better more often, has been criticised for the simplest things, which seems a little bit biased.
On Sunday afternoon, United went into their final Premier League match of the season against Leicester City at the King Power Stadium sitting in third place in the league. Chelsea may have scored to quick goals at the end of the first half which put them into third and United into fourth but the Red Devils still had work to do in order to confirm Champions League football next season. They did that with goals from Bruno Fernandes (a penalty) and Jesse Lingard, beating Leicester 2-0.
As Solskjaer has achieved what he was tasked to do; achieve Champions League football, play attacking football and giving youth a chance, it shows that he is the right man to lead the club, no matter what supporters who just support the club for their history think. Even the ones who make money glory supporting United don’t have opinions that fit within the die hard supporters of the club who have followed them through thick and through thin. Whilst he was still the interim manager, Solskjaer spoke to the media, as reported by The Mirror, saying:
“It has been a massive achievement. I am in the job and I believe in what I have been doing. I do it my way and that is the only way I can do it.
“The players have bought into this. We have come so far as a team. We are building a culture. I am very proud of all their efforts and pleased.”
United were unlucky not to score earlier in the game – Fernandes did but VAR ruled the goal out for offside. It took until the 71st minute of the match to put United in the lead and that came from the penalty spot after Jonny Evans was adjudged to have fouled Anthony Martial with Fernandes slotting the penalty home – his tenth goal of the season so far. United seemed to be holding on, keeping Leicester at bay with the final minutes of the match being counted down then out of nowhere, Jesse Lingard scored United’s second goal, his first Premier League goal of the season and his first since Solskjaer’s first match as the manager. After the match, Solskjaer, reported by The Mirror, said:
“All the predictions were about sixth or seventh so that is alright. If I am getting criticised that makes me stronger and believe more in what I am doing.
“I was reading through some of the predictions a few days ago. Third with this team with the rebuild has been a massive achievement by everyone.
“But next season we want to move up the League table so we can’t take our eye off it. Next season will be even more testing and challenging with games in the Champions League too.”
United signing Fernandes from Sporting Club de Portugal during the January transfer window was the move of the season for United. In 19 appearances for the club, he has experienced defeat once and that was against Chelsea in the Emirates FA Cup semi-final at Wembley just a week ago. He has scored ten goals and eight assists in his 19 appearances and still have the latter stages of the UEFA Europa League to come, after a week’s rest, of course, which will be important. Solskjaer, speaking to The Mirror about his newest signing, said:
“He has been been scoring goals and creating goals. He has stepped up calm as you like and slotted away the penalty.”
United will be able to start getting their summer transfer business done now knowing that Champions League football will be under the bright lights of Old Trafford next season and the youth players will feature in the UEFA Youth League, which will be good for the U19 player’s development. Solskjaer will be looking to get a good start ahead of the new season, getting as many players into the squad before the new season starts as possible – with the transfer window closing on the 5 October.
Written by John Walker