Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had started his second stint in English football as a manager, unexpectedly, “with a bang”. No one could have expected that he would bring Manchester United to the brink of fourth place (for a while) and then lead them to victory against Paris Saint-Germain. This is especially true after the 2-0 defeat in the first leg of the Champions League round of 16. It was amazing, it was inspired, but it was short-lived.
Ole has started a revamp of the talent development staff, with Neil Wood appointed as lead coach of the under-23 set-up in July, and he will be assisted by Quinton Fortune. The head of the academy of the team, Nicky Butt, will have a greater role as well, as Ole looks toward his youth talent. They all have either been in the United team in the past or have worked with the Norwegian, and hope to bring their experience to take the youth talent to the next step.
The problems at Manchester United are beyond the pitch. The supporters are against the current administration and the ownership of the Glazer family. The club does not have a director of football and keeps delaying the appointment of one. But things are not all that bad. Solskjaer is showing signs of steadying the ship, with new arrivals Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James pointing to a long term strategy that might be coming in place. Solskjaer has stressed on the need of a long term strategy and a short term one, and he seems to be working on both. There’s news of Harry Maguire joining from Leicester, for a record fee for a defender. Though he has not shown signs that he could be better than a Virgil van Dijk, he would, however, bring greater stability to the United backline.
Ole has a tough job at hand of rebuilding at the Old Trafford. Several players were let go, and he could lose more players. Possible outgoings are Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku and David de Gea. Paul Pogba has made known his desire to leave, as has his agent, Mino Raiola. Lukaku has his heart set on a move to Inter Milan, and David de Gea has refused to sign a new contract and is holding out for higher wages. The club are deliberating whether to sell de Gea rather than let him leave for free when his contract expires next July. PSG are reportedly interested in him. This has made it all the more difficult for Ole to prepare for next season. However, United have made two key signings so far, and are showing no signs of stopping.
Solskjaer is moulding the team according to his vision. He has made it known that he wants his team to be the hardest working in the Premier League. He has trusted youth and those who have been willing to put in a shift for the team. Players like Juan Mata have been given a second chance and Rashford has been trusted to lead the line. Daniel James has been brought in to increase competition on the wings and he has, incredibly, proven to be the fastest and fittest player in the team according to pre-season tests. The transfer of Harry Maguire seems to be a formality, with a fee agreed and a medical scheduled. This means that the much-dreaded combination of Phil Jones and Chris Smalling seems to be put to rest.
United have strengthened in an area that let them down so badly in 2018/19, their defence. They also have loads of attacking talent, with Solskjaer able to call upon the likes of Rashford, Martial, Lingard and even Alexis Sanchez, who has been in good form in the Copa America.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants to take the team forward. He wants to build something special at the Theatre of Dreams. Whether he can do this will depend on his determination. His man-management skills will be called into action as well. Time will tell whether he will be able to reunite the dressing room once again and lead them to glory. Ole has always maintained that Manchester United should be winning trophies. Whether he will be able to pull this off, will be a litmus test, that will point towards the things that are to come.
By: Wendell D’Souza
Source- Jamie Jackson