Should Ole stay at the wheel?

By Tony Robertson

The question of whether current Manchester United caretaker boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should be offered the permanent job is one of the hottest topics in football.

The general perception amongst United fans is that it is not a case of whether he will get the job, but rather when. The United faithful have been vocal in their support for the Norwegian with ‘Ole’s at the wheel’ being sung on a seemingly unending track by supporters.

When the Old Trafford favourite was appointed on December 19, 2018, the club were languishing dangerously far from the top four. Furthermore, with PSG drawn in the Champions League last 16 many had little hope for the club having anything like a successful season. But since then, the 1999 treble winner has overseen a huge resurgence in Manchester United’s form leading the Red Devils on a 12-game unbeaten run in the Premier League, which finally ended at Arsenal on March 10. He has also guided them to quarter finals in two competitions despite difficult draws. Solskjaer currently has a 78%-win rate in all competitions with an impressive record of 18 played, 14 won, 2 draws and 2 defeats.

In Europe, United tore up the record book to progress against Ligue 1 Champions PSG as they became the first team in Champions League history to overcome a 2-0 deficit from playing the first leg at home, winning the away leg 3-1 in controversial fashion. What made the result more astounding was that ten senior players were unavailable through injury and suspension. They await to see who they will face in the quarter-finals with the draw being made on March 15.

Though Solskjaer was always likely to win over the crowd at Old Trafford considering his affiliation with the historic treble winners. However, any manager worth their salt will be able to do more than simply create a positive atmosphere in the dressing room. They must also be a competent tactician who is able to get the best out their players. Once again Solskjaer has thus far passed this test with flying colours. He has changed the style of the squad drastically without any new signings. Having deployed a 4-4-2 diamond in big games, it has simultaneously got the best from the attacking players such as Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford but also bolstered the defence marshalled by Victor Lindelof. Jesse Lingard and Ander Herrera have also been standout performers. Even with injuries dogging the squad Solskjaer has shown great fluidity in his tactics.

The Red Devils have kept seven clean sheets in 18 games under Solskjaer having only kept five in 24 under predecessor Jose Mourinho. They also would be leading the Premier League if the season started on match day 18. The main argument against his appointment would be his relative lack of experience on the big stage having only previously managed Molde and Cardiff. That being said there is a solid case for Solskjaer to take the reins at Old Trafford.

Sub edited by Riley Taylor

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