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Trophy or bust time for Ole?

Manchester United have had their longest run without trophies in 32 years, having passed four seasons with nothing to celebrate. It is an extremely disappointing run for a club of the Manchester United format and widespread criticism is expected.

However, United fans have been cheering the man, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for more than two full seasons during this period. Being a club legend obviously has its perks and despite critics calling for his sacking, it’s probably what the club needs right now to trust a manager for a long time.

UNITED NEEDS STABILITY

Since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013, United has had four different managers, with Ole being the fourth. David Moyes, named by Sir Alex as the chosen one, failed to live up to expectations. Winning the FA Community Shield in his first match in charge was the only silver lining in his time at the club.

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Image Source – Man United / Twitter

He was replaced by former Barcelona and Dutch national team coach Louis van Gaal. Van Gaal stayed at the club for two years and won an FA Cup before being fired. Then came Jose Mourinho, who was expected to use his winning mentality to revive the club. It started well with their first year winning the EFL Cup, Europa League, and a Community Shield. But they couldn’t progress and it ended in the middle of the 18/19 season.

Solskjaer initially arrived at the top level as a caretaker with little experience and the only success on his resume was two Norwegian championship titles and a Norwegian soccer cup. Nobody had foreseen that he would become the permanent manager of United from the coming season and that he has so little to show for his performance as a manager. But a brilliant streak of 14 wins out of 19 games won him the trust of both the board and the fans and he signed a 3-year deal with the club.

IS OLE THE RIGHT MAN?

They do need stability, and that usually has fruitful results. Take the example of Sir Alex Ferguson himself at Manchester United. It took the United legend four years to win his first trophy at the club and then never stopped the glory days. When Jurgen Klopp came to Liverpool it took him three years to win the first trophy and when he did it was the tremendous accomplishment of winning the Champions League. The next year he won the Premier League. But time isn’t the only factor needed to be successful, and Ole has not yet shown the tactical skill to win crunch games.

Image source – Eurosport / website

Is he the right choice to get the Red Devils back on the road to victory?

In his two and a half seasons at the club, Solskjaer is credited with improving the club’s condition in terms of getting rid of deadwood, improving the quality of football and bringing the United DNA back to the club. With all the support and trust that has been shown in him, however, there is no cutlery to show. And that will remain his biggest gripe unless he can pick up # 21 for United this season.

His greatest achievement was reaching the Europa League final last season, which he lost on penalties to seventh-placed La Liga club Villarreal. In the league, United took their joint best second place since Sir Alex’s resignation, but were still light years behind the champions in terms of point difference (12).

THE GLAZER ISSUE

United may be one of the top spending clubs in the world, but it should not be confused with the fact that United owners are gracious and “invest” in the club. Much has been said about the owners of Manchester United and there is a lot of misunderstanding on the subject.

Image Source – Independent / Website

The money the team spent is often used as a counter-argument to criticize the Glazers. However, it’s not about spending, it’s about investing. The infamous Glazer Family took over the club in 2004 and the current manager was one of the most vocal critics of the deal at the time.

In 17 years of owning the club, the Glazers have reportedly taken nearly $ 2 billion out of the club and not invested a single new penny in one of the top-selling clubs. They have successfully made United their cash cow and have shown no attachment to the club and its advances, which carries the hatred of the majority of the fan base.

The latest ESL fiasco was only the turning point that gave the fans a reason to take a stand against this legal robbery on their beloved club. The Glazers reacted positively after fans began reaching out to the club’s sponsors on social media and pledging to meet the requirements. And the signing of Jadon Sancho and possibly Raphael Varane for a total of around 150 million euros is a sign of positive change.

They may need a few more first-team signings, considering Paul Pogba may start a new journey. United have also been linked with French youngster Eduardo Camavinga to bolster his midfield and ultimately his chances of a title fight.

Image source – Manchester United / Website

They also created new posts at the club of football director and technical director, which were filled by John Murtough and Darren Fletcher, respectively, following the resignation of Ed Woodward, the ex-banker who administered football decisions at the club.

THE UNITED DNA?

One of the main arguments for Solskjaer was the revitalization of the United DNA, which includes a club culture that includes promoting youth and the offensive, free-flowing football United is known for. The concept of fusing success with fun football that a 75,000 filled Old Trafford is used to.

In terms of โ€œfun and attackingโ€ football, United have scored 73 Premier League goals, the most since their last title win in the 2012/13 season. They conceded 44 goals last season, a number that needs improvement and which is set to improve this season with the possible addition of Raphael Varane.

Academy players like Mason Greenwood, Brandon Williams and Axel Tuanzebe were promoted and given the opportunity to demonstrate their skills. The team has a completely new look and most of their starters from next season will be newcomers under Solskjaer, with the exception of Shaw, Pogba, Fred and Rashford.

But one important factor needed to complete the United DNA is constant success. Solskjaer has not managed to do this so far, but hopefully a positive future lies ahead of us for Ole and the club.

21 COMING?

Fans have been patient with Ole considering his club performance as a player and still remember his clutch moments from the 98/99 season when Man United won the historic triple. Ole scored the winning goal in the Champions League final that year. But for one of the biggest clubs in the world with arguably the biggest fan base, the trophy drought is a big problem and this season will be crucial for its future and that of the club.

Image source – AS / website

Since arriving in December 2019, Solskjaer has achieved many of his goals such as Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Bruno Fernandes, Alex Telles, Daniel James and Donny van de Beek but has not been able to bring the desired success.

It is the sad reality of football that the only real factor in working as a manager is the titles won. The terms like philosophy, DNA, progress can actually mean something to a number of fans, but they only serve as protection from failure when the sport’s sole goal is to win. And Solskjaer has been close to winning on many occasions as a United coach, but four semi-finals and one defeat in the final aren’t worth much applause.

While United have clearly made progress, a few more signings should seal the deal for them and they will have to keep a challenging distance from rivals Manchester City and Liverpool.

Despite the ups and downs, there are a lot of positive things in the club at the moment and the team has successfully prevailed from the devastating end of last season and lost the Europa League final. The incoming players are sure to join a lucky squad that is united in both winning and losing. Ole deserves credit for bringing the atmosphere back to life as Mourinho didn’t turn out well. Luke Shaw’s improvement is another commendable act by the Norwegian coach.

It will be a difficult task for United to fight for the title, considering defending champions Manchester City, European champions Chelsea, an overhauled and restored Liverpool, along with the Red Devils will be queuing up. Still, a trophy is essential for the coach this season and it would be even better if it were the championship title.

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