It’s confirmed. The Red Devils will now be helmed full time by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. It came as a surprise; to the Eskimos in Antarctica!
Manchester United has been a different unit since Solskjaer took over in December 2018.
It was a turbulent time when he was brought in as a caretaker manager to replace the sacked José Mourinho. There’s been a positive change in the team’s performance since he’s taken charge at Old Trafford.
Man U has won a record 14 out of 21 games. From the threat of relegation, they have come within striking distance of being in the top three. But the highlight of his fledgling reign has been the club’s exploits at UEFA Champions League (UCL). Man U came back from a 0-2 deficit to oust Paris Saint-Germain and book a quarter-final berth.
It’s been a remarkable comeback for a team that was seemingly down for the count. So, what has changed since he’s helmed the team?
The team is playing attractive football, much like the Man U sides of the 90s. There seems to be greater discipline in the team, and the players are quietly going about their job. There seems to be little doubt about who calls the shots. And all this without any rumbles or murmurs about authoritarianism! No needless controversies; no public disagreements; no locker-room spats!
These are early days, but there are striking resemblances to Fergie’s celebrated 26-year reign at Old Trafford.
For starters, both took charge when Man U was in a beleaguered state. If Solskjaer inherited a disjointed side, Fergie took charge, in the 1980s, of a team languishing at the bottom. In his first season, the club finished a mediocre 11th. Over the next three years, Fergie turned around the team to become a champion outfit.
Fergie was supposed to be an efficient man-manager and extracted the best out of his players. In his last season, he won the EPL title with a team that, according to many, was the weakest Man U side since the beginning of the premier league era. He could tame and inspire mavericks like Eric Cantona, David Beckham and even Cristiano Ronaldo. Like him, even Solskjaer seems to be getting the best out of superstars like Romelu Lukaku and Paul Pogba. Pogba is very close to his best having left his frosty relationship with Mourinho behind.
Solskjaer also knows more than a thing or two about Sir Alex Ferguson’s style, having played in Man U from 1996 to 2007. The Norwegian played a vital part in the club’s fantastic run in the 1998-99 season when it achieved a rare treble of titles; the FA Cup, EPL and the UCL. He had, in fact, scored the late winner at the Camp Nou, Spain, to hand Man U its second UEFA Champions League title.
As the ongoing season heads towards its climax, Solskjaer seems to have put the derailed Red express back on track. But can they now shift gears rapidly?
More importantly, in the next couple of seasons, can the Norwegian recreate the Sir Alex Ferguson-era? If he does, it would be as Fergie himself said after the 1999 UCL triumph, “I can’t believe it; I can’t believe it. Football! Bloody Hell! “