United were in a crisis that they have experienced for the last 5-6 years: Struggling to reach/stay in the top four of the EPL table, with no fight in them whatsoever to challenge for the Premier League title. They went through a major squad transition in the midfield and attack in this period.
The problem the board and fans face is that the transitional period they are taking to make the squad competitive again is too long for their history and the glory which they have achieved in the past decade. People started to lose hope and think that those glory days are over, but the arrival of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has certainly given them a glimmer of hope.
Many United supporters could feel that it is too early to dream again, and understandably too. Let us look at the stats since OGS took over.
Jose Mourinho said United needed a 'miracle' to finish in the top four. They were 11 points off the 4th place, sitting in the sixth position when United bid goodbye to Mourinho. Big names surfaced as the time came to choose a manager. Here we have to appreciate United board and Ed Woodward on their cautious approach. They did not rush into any major decision. They appointed OGS as the interim manager. And boy! Has he done a good job!
He has done a fantastic job as the interim manager to say the least and it makes us ask the curious question, Is he the best interim manager in football according to statistics?
Well, I don't have the answer for that, but many would agree that he has gotten United up and running again. It makes us feel that he could drive the club in the right direction and again we have to respect the board's decision for taking their time and not rushing to arrive at a huge decision like this.
Remember that they have been made to pay for their previous encounters with other managers who took over after Sir Alex Ferguson. The most embarrassing one was awarding a humongous SIX-year contract to David Moyes. Of course, there is no disrespecting the man for the work he has done at Everton and the resume he created for himself, but his time at United turned out to be a whole different story.
Now looking ahead at the fixtures of United, we know OGS has a big task in front of him with 3 of the big six teams to play against in the PL and two against Wolves; one in the FA Cup Quarterfinals and one in PL. To make it more difficult, currently 10 players are in the injury list and they have to face PSG in two days. Now United have to score at least three goals without conceding any in Le Parc des Princes Stadium.
Given the suspension of the midfield enforcer Paul Pogba and absence of Martial, it does seem unlikely also considering the fact that no club has ever progressed to the next round of Champions League after losing the first leg at home by two or more goals.
If they manage to do it, that would be a huge achievement and it puts the case of OGS as the next permanent manager strongly. But if they don't, it should not be major hindrance unless they get thrashed in Paris. They won't have much time to pull themselves up as they have to face Arsenal the following weekend.
This game could have a big say in the top four race which is also the more realistic goal and focus of the club at the moment.
If United continue to perform the way they are currently doing, they could finish in the top four and who knows, maybe win the FA cup also. But if they manage to finish in the top four, that alone would call for an achievement. OGS can pat himself in the back and become a hard-to-ignore contender for the permanent manager position.
Now looking ahead again on the long term point of view, I would like to conclude by saying if OGS is rewarded with the permanent manager position, the club wouldn't necessarily become great again in a fortnight, but many have started to believe that if he gets the job, he could make them competitive again and challenge for the title.
More importantly, he could steer the club in the right direction which the previous 4 managers had very little success trying.Published 06 Mar 2019, 01:59 IST