The next chapter of Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s fairytale at Manchester United took place in Paris last night. United defied all the odds to overturn a 2-0 deficit over Paris Saint-Germain in the Round of 16 in the UEFA Champions League. Since his appointment as caretaker manager, Solskjær has injected an air of confidence, unity and hope, not only amongst players but also the fans. Having been in charge of United for under three months, the Norwegian has already started breaking records and is reminding the fans of the glory days under Sir Alex Ferguson.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær Ends the ‘Banter Era’ at Manchester United
Players Not The Problem
The appointment of Solskjær in December was one that raised eyebrows, as many believed he was given the job due to his time as a player at the club as opposed to his managerial merits. However, Solskjær has completely changed the atmosphere at Old Trafford and has re-energised the fans.
Under Jose Mourinho, questions were asked as to whether or not the players were motivated and talented enough to play for Manchester United. Solskjær has turned around almost every single player’s form and got them to play at their full potential. Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial, Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera were all struggling under Mourinho, regularly putting in sub-par performances. The Norwegian has flipped their mentality which is reflected on the pitch. Herrera, Matic and Pogba have formed a lethal midfield three that consists of the perfect balance of flare, defensive abilities and attacking threat. More than anything, it is the spirit and passion that has been re-installed into them that effectively demonstrates the United way.
The one player who still can’t find his feet at Manchester United under Solskjær is Alexis Sanchez. The Chilean winger was signed from Arsenal in a swap deal with Henrikh Mkhitaryan. At Arsenal, he was their star man and was often in the discussion for the PFA Player of the Year award, as well as other widely recognised honours. At Old Trafford, he just can’t seem to get going, as he has developed bad habits which see him give away possession too frequently and a lack of desire to win it back. Having picked up a knee injury, Sanchez is expected to be out for six-eight weeks, and may well have played his final match in a Manchester United shirt. With wages of over £450,000 per week, his teammates are beginning to demand more considering the contribution that the Chilean has made.
The Mourinho phase was a very sad one for United fans, as his negative style of football and absurd media comments saw fans turn against him. Solskjær seemed the perfect replacement simply to see out the season, with the main aim to have the fans united prior to the arrival of a marquee manager to take over in the summer. Mauricio Pochettino and Zinedine Zidane were amongst the favourites to take over from the Norwegian, but having exceeded all expectations by a country mile, Solskjær’s appointment as full-time manager seems inevitable.
Despite early success, CEO Ed Woodward was reluctant to give Solskjær any spending money in the January transfer window as he wasn’t convinced he would be United’s manager next season. Throughout the controversial decisions in PSG’s visit to Old Trafford and the injury crisis of late, Solskjær has remained optimistic and enthusiastic, which has won the fans over. Solskjær’s team that he fielded to face PSG stood no chance on paper, however, the game was won mentally and United had the emotional drive and commitment to fight until the bitter end to secure a victory. The modern game has seen club tradition and values deteriorate as the focus is solely on money and points, however, the current Manchester United team seem to have the same mentality of some of the greatest United sides in history.
Fred coming to push the PSG players away so that Rashford has a clean mind before the penalty shows what it means to him. pic.twitter.com/MweOGJEdJA
— Shiven Mohindra (@LWOSShiven) March 7, 2019
Solskjær has re-installed the ‘feel good factor’ at Old Trafford, reminiscent of the Fergie Days. Following on from the historic victory over PSG, United legends, former managers and coaches all gathered in the dressing room to congratulate and celebrate with the team. Whilst the 46-year-old hasn’t made any claims about the full-time job, fans, pundits and players alike are all hoping to see him sign a deal that commits him to Manchester United for the coming years.
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