5 Ways Ole Has Transformed United
After this week's Champions League heroics in Paris, I don’t have to tell you how much of a
revelation Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is to Manchester United. But, how exactly has he turned
the Reds around so quickly?
Here’s 5 reasons that I think have been key to Ole bringing the good times back to United:
Restoring confidence in the players
Whether you blame Mourinho or not, a lot of players seemed shackled tactically, and low
on confidence mentally during his reign. Solskjaer came in, and restored all the belief back
into players we’d not seen in their best for large parts of the season.
Rashford has looked like a different player under Solskjaer, Lukaku is finding the net
again, Lindelof and Smalling are looking solid at defensively, and Martial is even smiling on
the pitch again! This is to name just a few players that have improved rapidly since the
Norwegian’s arrival.. others that spring to mind are Herrera, Matic, and of course probably
most notably: Paul Pogba.
Pogba at his best
The Frenchman is arguably one of main reasons Mourinho lost his job. “PP6” is obviously
key to the plans for the future of United, and the 25 years old, 2018 World Cup Winner,
would probably have been looking to exit United if the club hadn’t parted company with
Since Solskjaer’s arrival, we’ve seen a more consistent Pogba delivering 8 Goals and 6
assists from centeral midfield, looking more and more like the player that was expected
when he arrived at Old Trafford a couple of Summers ago. He seems focused and
confident, working harder for the team to accompany his undoubted talent. Positionally
he’s always been somewhat of a conundrum to accommodate, but Solskjaer seems to
have answered that question too, deploying Pogba slightly to the left of Matic and Herrera
(or whoever is in the United midfield) with a free reign.
Powerful, fast, a great long or short range passer, skillful, and a player that can score from
midfield.. he’s the type of World Class midfielder United had been used to in Solskjaer's
United era. So it’s no coincidence we’re seeing the best of him now.
Playing the United Way
Remember the United teams of old? Giggs, Beckham, Scholes, Ronaldo, Rooney, Van
Nistelrooy.. were those players asked to play in a pragmatic “keep it tight” system? No,
they were encouraged to go out and take games by the scruff of the neck, and tactically
they were made aware of opposition weaknesses to exploit, by the genius that was Sir
Alex. In a nutshell, these ethics are the one as Solskjaer has reinstated at United.
Lukaku is back in confidence, Pogba expressive and getting into the box, Rashford direct
and shooting on sight, Martial committing his man every time he gets the ball, quality
delivery into the box from Shaw, Young and Dalot from wide areas too.. this isn’t a
coincidence. Ole has reintroduced an ethos that provided so many years of success as a
player under Sir Alex, one with attacking freedom. And the players have reacted perfectly
to it, bringing back the attractive identity we’ve seen from so many United teams of old.
Fans back on side
“Ole's at the wheel, Tell me how does it feel..”
It was obvious that Solskjaer would be a popular choice to see out the season, but few fans
predicted how much they’d grow to love him in just under 3 months, or even want him to
stay past May. But Solskjaer has come across so humbled to have the job, a major
contrast to the departed Mourinho, which the Old Trafford faithful certainly appreciate.
Let’s be honest, this was a Win-Win situation for Ole though. He couldn’t make things
worse, and any small progress from when he took over in December until the end of the
season would have been welcomed with open arms at the time. But what he’s done has
exceeded everyone’s expectations, and the former “Super Sub” on the pitch has certainly
restored the crowds faith off it. There would be uproar in the stands if he wasn’t to get the
job on a full time basis now.
Stuck by the youth
What has gone slightly under the radar with Solskjaer is how much he’s backed the youth
he has available to him, and not played the big name stars that he’s probably more
pressured to play. Two examples that spring to mind are McTominay and Pereira.
Given the pedigree/price of the likes of Alexis Sanchez & Fred to name the best examples,
it would have been easy for Ole to start both of them ahead of the younger players, but
he’s done what’s best for the team. McTominay and Pereira have been great in the last
couple of weeks, and we’ve even seen the likes of the up and coming Tahith Chong,
James Garner, Angel Gomes and Mason feature during the last few weeks.
Again, I’ll refer back to Solskjaer's time at Old Trafford where the youth academy was
trusted and produced one of the finest generations of British players in recent times,
arguably ever. And to be fair it’s something the club has been able to continue to do over
the years, with Rashford and Lingard being the best examples of recent seasons, so
personally I admire Solskjaer for continuing this.