Let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we?
When Ole Gunnar Solksjaer came on for Andy Cole in the 81st minute of the 1999 UEFA Champions League final at the Camp Nou, he had only one job – save Manchester United. And save Manchester United he did.
1 nil down, with under 10 minutes on the clock, Teddy Sheringham who also was a substitute equalized for the Red Devils. Solksjaer then went on to score the winning goal precisely on 90+2:17’ to hand Manchester United the UCL title, securing the widely celebrated treble in Manchester United’s history.
That was when the Norwegian secured his place in Manchester United’s history.
20 years on, Solksjaer has had to return to Manchester United just like a substitute once again. And he has just one job – save Manchester United. The Red Devils had found themselves in a mess.
Players were already falling out with ex-manager, Jose Mourinho. The great Manchester United looked like a sinking ship as they struggled to hold on to the sixth position in the Premier League. Watching the team was no more fun for the fans. Many of them expressed displeasure day after day on social media.
20 years on, the baby-faced assassin has come to save the teeming fans from their fears once again.
Within the 20-year interval, OGS had undergone managerial training with the Manchester United reserves. After his time with the reserves, he made a return to Molde, only this time as the manager. He started his managerial journey with Molde by January 2011.
After spending three years and winning three trophies for the team, he moved to Cardiff City by January 2014. However, he wasn’t as successful as he finished 20th and got relegated. After the team’s poor start in the Championship, he left the team and made a return to Molde in 2015. There he was manager before Manchester called, yet again.
On his return to Manchester United, he got off to a brilliant start by defeating his former team Cardiff City 5-1. That was the first time Manchester United had scored five goals since Sir Alex’s final game as manager of the Red Devils. Ole Gunar Solskjaer went on to win the next four league games. This four wins included the so-called ultimate test at Wembley against Tottenham Hotspur.
🔴 Ole Gunnar Solskjaer announced as manager:
🏟 After 5 matches in charge:
🎶 “Ole’s at the wheel…” pic.twitter.com/Mlsto1zsTg
— SPORF (@Sporf) January 13, 2019
He became the first manager since Sir Matt Busby to win the first five leagues managed. He is the first manager in the club’s history to win his first six matches in all competitions. A feat Sir Alex Ferguson would have been proud of.
However, the begging question is, what did Ole Gunar Solskjaer do differently from Mou to start producing results with the same crop of players that looked poor under the latter. Ryan Giggs mentioned how Ole had come to watch Manchester United under Mou and had pointed out to him how the fullbacks weren’t high enough.
This shows that OGS was already doing his homework even before the job came through. On getting to the position, he moved Lindelof to the right side of the centre back pairing and encouraged to move the ball from the back, which helped the team build from the back.
OGS hadn’t done much, except tweaking a system already in place and getting the best out of the players. He reminded them of the worth of the badge they were wearing. He made them realize that it is a privilege representing the badge. As a first class contributor to probably the greatest moment in Manchester United’s history, all he needed to do was tell the players how it felt – which seemingly is enough morale booster.
Paul Pogba on his revival under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
"For sure, when you are happy you are free in your mind. You do things without thinking. I work hard in training, I enjoy playing with them and, for sure, I will give my best."#MUFC pic.twitter.com/OScRCwKfvc
— SBOBET (@SBOBET) January 17, 2019
However, we all shouldn’t have to be reminded that OGS was only brought in for a temporary fix. He had said in an interview just a few weeks into the job that ‘he doesn’t want to leave’. He is obviously enjoying the job (who wouldn’t?).
The tie against Tottenham Hotspur was keenly watched as it involved Ole Gunar Solskjaer and Pochettino, a name that had been thrown around as the next manager of Manchester United. He came out top in that battle.
Is he Good Enough?
After the victory against Spurs, the important question began to emanate – has he done enough to get the job on a full-time basis? Perhaps. Many will be waiting for the game against PSG in the UCL, before concluding.
So everyone saying “Solskjaer is the man, he’s won 6/6 he can do wrong” but if we get knocked out of FA Cup and Champions league how quick will people turn on him them?! #mufc
— Rob Peters (@rob6001) January 15, 2019
Others might have seen enough and feel convinced already. To others, he’s just enjoying the vibe that comes with bringing a fresh manger into a toxic environment. However, one thing is certain – the belief is back. Manchester United fans have grown in confidence about a tie they had dreaded at first.
They now look forward to battling against Neymar and co in the UCL round of 16.
The confidence and pride associated with being a fan of the most successful team in England is back!
Has Ole Gunar Solskjaer done enough to get the job permanently? Share your thoughts with me by leaving me your comments.
Author: Kolawole Babatunde
Babatunde Kolawole aka Koolkola is a football analyst, a freelance football writer and a content creator. He’s also a freelance writer and he appears on radio and television regularly to talk football. You can interact with him via twitter and instagram @iamkoolkola. You can also keep up with his works or employ his services via these mediums. He’s always ready and happy to engage you on any topic surrounding the world of football.