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'Ole's at the wheel'- The story of guts and freedom at the heart of the Norwegian's meteoric rise to become Manchester United's permanent manager  

ANALYST
Feature
244   //    28 Mar 2019, 15:49 IST

Arsenal v Manchester United - FA Cup Fourth Round
Arsenal v Manchester United - FA Cup Fourth Round

Back in December, Jose Mourinho was sacked after a streak of continuous poor results which saw United endure an abysmal start to the campaign. They were sixth in the Premier League under Mourinho, eleven points behind from the fourth place. The Red Devils are still sixth, but just two points apart now from the fourth-placed Arsenal.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was selected as the interim choice to replace Mourinho and despite what it may seem, the point difference is not the only thing which changed with the club. Mourinho's United was reeling from a lack of motivation and suffering from the severe clash between the mentalities of the coach and players. The belief which made the Red Devils a force in the Sir Alex Ferguson's era was nowhere to be seen and honestly, it would be very difficult for even the optimistic of fans to imagine where they are now.

Solskjaer is the first United manager to win his first six league games, beating a record held by Sir Matt Busby. But they have lost only once in 13 Premier League games since Solskjaer took over. The statistics are stunning as United were closer to the bottom teams in the Premier League in December but Solskjaer managed to rejuvenate completely since he took over.

It is not like United brought huge reinforcements in the winter transfer window. Solskjaer was not a renowned tactician and certainly, not a favourite choice to lead United forward yet he has turned doubters away and changed things completely in his favour. The Norwegian works with a similar set of players as Mourinho yet the results and performances are completely contrasting.

In the four months, Solskjaer has completely changed United's outlook. That is never dumb luck or a miracle, consistent performance needs work and character. Solskjaer's style is different from Mourinho but he is shrewd in his own way. He realized that the world class players need to function at their best to drive United forward and he gave what they wanted- freedom.

It is not like that United went all out attacking since Solskjaer took over but the roles of Paul Pogbas and Rashfords are not bounded anymore. The players can express themselves fully on the pitch, without any thoughts of unwanted criticism.

Most importantly, Solskjaer has managed to revive the gutsy character of Red Devils which they were known for. He spent 11 seasons with Manchester United and his winner in 1999 Champions League made him special in the heart of fans around the globe. But that goal signified immense belief and guts and that United never say die.

A comeback after a 2-0 loss at Old Trafford against PSG would have been impossible a few months ago but Ole's United managed to do just that at Paris. Undoubtedly, there were more world class players in their opponent team yet the character of the players refuses each of them to give up before the final whistle.

The United spirit is back. There are smiles on the faces of supporters and an undying hope at the heart of Old Trafford. There is no negativity but immense belief at the backbone of United once again. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has earned the trust to be on the wheel at a permanent basis and he deserves the faith United hierarchy and the fans are putting on him.

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