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Ole’s at the wheel – but is he still in control?

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There was a deafening clamour for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to be named long-term Manchester United boss after he masterminded a European comeback for the ages against PSG in Paris.

The Norwegian had carried out a near faultless job up until that point, and it seemed only fair that he be given the reins on a permanent basis after the sterling job he had done in turning the Red Devils around since Mourinho’s departure.

It was at the end of March that the Old Trafford board finally decided to appoint Solskjaer as the permanent manager of Manchester United and and it appeared to be a move that was full of logic. After all, how could Ed Woodward have looked at himself in the mirror with any dignity had he not reward the baby-faced assassin after he had single-handedly saved Manchester United’s season?

Well, here we are, three weeks on since his appointment with United having played three games and lost two. Manchester United fans may not want to, but if they were to go back to the two games leading up to Solskjaer’s appointment, the record would worringly show that United have now lost four of their last five games.


Granted, it hasn’t been the easiest run of fixtures and losing to Barcelona in the Champions League is what many teams do, but the 45-year-old was brought in to make United competitive again in tough games. Right now, they seemed to have slipped back into the team that Mourinho was managing.

Solskjaer’s supporters will defend his record and ultimately tell everyone to make a judgment after he has had a transfer window to himself, and to give them their due, they aren’t’ wrong. It is worth, however, considering what would have happened had the board hung on until the end of April or even the end of the season.

Would the situation have become a lot clearer? Is there a bit of the Emperor’s New Clothes about Solskjaer?

United fans, and especially the board, will hope not, as another costly severance package is not what anyone at the club wants to be thinking about, as only a few weeks before, they were hailing their new manager as the new Sir Alex Ferguson.

As long as Solskjaer is able to keep Manchester United in the Champions League he will have room to breathe, but with the Champions League winner odds showing United at 33/1, it seems that an exit from Europe’s top domestic competition is imminent. There’s absolutely no chance he will be sacked, but if the Red Devils limp home this season and then begin to falter at the start of next season’s campaign, it’s hard to see the hierarchy at Manchester United not reverting back to their plan of bringing in a big name.


For Ed Woodward and his board, it’s a dreadful position to be in. Had they not given Solskjaer the job they would have be deemed unfair, now that they have, they are at the risk of being called incompetent and too sentimental in their decision making.

Manchester United had to get the appointment after Mourinho right, they just had to after how far they had regressed in recent seasons. At this stage no one is categorically saying that they have made a mistake but everyone in the Manchester United boardroom will be a bit alarmed at how quickly Ole has lost control.

This article was brought to you by Late Tackle football magazine, the national football fanzine, 'by fans for fans'.
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