An icon. A legend. A manager? When Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over as Manchester United manager from Jose Mourinho at the end of 2019, there were mixed reactions. Although he adores the Red Devils, the former striker has had minimal managerial experience.
Relegating Cardiff City and taking charge of Molde is not a CV to boast about. Many people across social media thought he wouldn’t last long. With a wonderful starting run of 14 wins in 19 games, he shut them up. United fans were astonished and ultimately they could not believe what they were witnessing.
Former Manchester United centre back Rio Ferdinand was quoted on BT Sport saying: “Man United might not thank me, but get the contract out, put it on the table, let him sign it, let him write whatever numbers he wants to put on there – given what he’s done since he’s come in – and let him sign the contract and go. Ole’s at the wheel, man – he’s doing his thing. Man United are back!”
However, Man United were certainly not back. Fans quickly turned their back on Soskjaer after some dreadful results; a 1-1 draw at relegated Huddersfield and a 2-0 loss against Cardiff at Old Trafford. Job safety as a head coach in football nowadays is doubtlessly erratic. Solskjaer’s is something else.
Despite United’s squad seemingly weaker on paper than some of their rivals – this would have been laughable in the Alex Ferguson days – young players such as Scott Mctominay, Marcus Rashford, Daniel James, Aaron Wan Bissaka, Bruno Fernandes, Brandon Williams and Mason Greenwood provide the Northern club with one of the brightest futures in the Premier League. Solskjaer has done incredibly recruiting young players and loaning out dead wood; Ashley Young and Alexis Sanchez to name a couple.
Solskjaer seemingly has the backing of the players. In 2019, Marcus Rashford said: “There was no hesitation from me over signing a new contract.
“And it was the same for Ole as well – I could see where his head was at, where he wanted the club to be at and for me, it was just a no-brainer.
“We were on the same page and wanted the same things for the club. Ole is a great guy and he has the club’s interests at heart so there’s not a better person for the job in my opinion.”
Win percentage: Mourinho 53.8%, Solskjær 48.8%
According to the Guardian, Mourinho was sacked with a win percentage of 53.8%. Solskjær’s is 48.8%. It is very questionable to back a manager that is winning less than his predecessor. There are many jobless, experienced managers waiting for the opportunity to take charge of a club like United. Surely Massimiliano Allegri or Mauricio Pochettino would do a much better job than the 47-year-old.
However, Solskjaer has been praised by many people during his time as gaffer. Plymouth Argyle manager and Liverpool fan Ryan Lowe says United have reaped the rewards by keeping faith in Solskjaer.
“I think a lot of credit has to go to Solskjaer,” Lowe said on The Debate.
“Even though I’m a big red and he’s Man United but there are too many calls for sacking a manager nowadays.
“I don’t like it, how can you just keep sacking managers after six or 12 months? It’s just not right.
“I think any young, up-and-coming manager coming in now has aspirations of getting to the Premier League, yeah okay you become a millionaire and whatever else with the Premier League’s price tag and the wages, but do you really want to get to the Premier League?
“You might only have six months there, you might have three months, you might have 12 months max.”
Solskjaer is a club legend that is adored by the fans, but he lacks the necessary experience to coach a club with the Red Devils stature. He may be the right man for United, but is he the right manager?