Opinion: Why Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is not the right man for Manchester United
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer set the stage on fire as soon as he stepped into the shoes of ‘caretaker manager’. He won 14 out of his first 17 games as Manchester United manager. He also set the club record of 9 consecutive away wins, most by any Manchester United team. The epic victory against PSG would be written in the Champions League lore.
Him being a revered club legend has only helped his cause by getting all the fans behind him. He was welcomed back to the club with boisterous chants from the Manchester United fans. The fans believe that he is the true heir to Sir Alex Ferguson because he has the Manchester United DNA and knows the ethos of the club, a quality missing in the last 3 managers.
However, despite all his qualities, last few games (5 defeats in last 7 games) have suggested that he might not have been the right choice. Marshalling a team to glory requires something more than just pandering to the fan’s wishes and keeping everyone happy.
We will look at some reasons why the Manchester United board may have been wrong to appoint Solskjaer as manager.
No tactical experience
Solskjaer had a disastrous reign at Cardiff City, the only top-flight club he had managed before being picked for the Manchester United job. He won only 9 of the 30 games he was in charge at Cardiff. His campaign was in such disarray that in his final season in charge at Cardiff, he did not field the same starting eleven in any of the matches despite bringing in 9 players of his choice the same season.
Former Cardiff attacker, Tommy Smith, even went ahead to question his man-management skills. One can see similar shades in recent outings of Manchester United.
The only thing that goes in his favour is his reign at Molde, where he won the title against teams with no experience of European football.
Absence of chain of command
While the contribution of Manchester United’s support staff has been immense, as has been highlighted by Solskjaer, it is important to recognize the importance of having a chain of command. With Carrick, Phelan and McKenna all getting involved during the match, it becomes difficult to figure out who is in charge.
In a club as big as Manchester United where players are not afraid to voice their ambitions, it is essential to have an authoritative coach. Soskjaer surely is a very likeable person but he lacks the sting that essential in a top-flight coach to keep his squad in line.
The absence of authority at the club was reflected in Pogba’s attitude when he toyed with the idea of joining Real Madrid.
Not an informed choice
The amount of thinking that went into the appointment of Solskjaer was disappointing concerning the stature of a club like Manchester United. The attributes that should be present in top-flight coach (trophies, experience, philosophy) were all missing. It was indeed an emotional choice.
But the biggest loss in choosing Solskjaer was not in what Manchester United had gained but in what they had missed. With Real Madrid out of the picture, after re-appointing Zidane, the road was clear for Manchester United to go all for the Premier League’s favourite, Mauricio Pochettino.
Poch seemed to be the perfect choice for United. He had extremely fruitful spells with Espanyol and Southampton and has created a top Premier League team in Tottenham Hotspur in his present job.
He is tactically sound attacking approach has been dearly missed at Old Trafford and more importantly, he was willing to switch for Manchester United.
The populist decision to appoint Solskjaer has started to show its effects and if it is a sign of things to come, the post-Ferguson dystopia is likely to continue.