It all looked doom and gloom for Manchester United on December after they suffered a 3-1 loss to Arch-Rivals Liverpool which left them a massive 17 points behind the Reds. Prior to that game, there hasn’t been any week since the season began that Manchester United won’t make the headlines for the negative reasons.
Former manager Jose Mourinho is a man whose coaching talent can never be doubted but also known for causing mischief. The Portuguese gaffer’s final season at Old Trafford was reminiscent of his spells in Chelsea and Real Madrid where he fell out with senior players.
The Former Porto manager complained Heavily in the summer about not being backed enough despite spending more than 300m pounds in his first two years. He also publicly criticized Anthony Martial for returning late after the birth of his child. Nevertheless, United started the season with a 2-1 win over Leicester only for the team to suffer a setback in the following game against Leicester.
The results followed the same pattern in during Mourinho’s time. However, it was his much-publicised feud with Paul Pogba that drew a lot of unwanted attention to the club. According to reports, Mourinho was not happy with Pogba’s attitude especially his Social Media antics. The pick of the bunch was when two were seen having a heated argument at Carrington. Following United’s Carabao Cup back in September, It was reported the French World Cup winner post on Instagram after the game annoyed Mourinho.
However, the United were still patiently hoping the Portuguese gaffer would be able to turn it around at that time. Though wins at Juventus and draw at Chelsea was able to mask his failings then, United board decided they have had enough and decided to pull the trigger a day after the team lost to Liverpool.
Following the Mourinho’s sack, there was a lot of names drawn by the media as a possible replacement but, the club decided to take a gamble by appointing former striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and what an appointment it has been. Since the former Cardiff manager arrived, he has brought a breath of fresh air at the club and has broken all kinds of records.
His first game in charge was against former club Cardiff, and it marked the first time United score five goals in a match since Ferguson retired as they won 5-1. Solskjaer won his next four games in the same fashion, but it wasn’t until the game against Tottenham that showed he was the real deal. United may have been second best in that game particularly in the second half, but Solskjaer’s boys showed zeal and were brilliant on the counter, something that was lacking during Mourinho’s time.
“What Ole has done since he arrived is give his attackers the freedom to express themselves which was not so during Mourinho’s time. The former Chelsea manager was famous for his defensive style of football which always stifle the creativity of United attacking stars. However, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has come in to change that. He has given Pogba the freedom to move forward and played Marcus Rashford in a central position which is why it is no surprise to see they have been the two best players that have benefitted most since the Norwegian arrived.”
“Even Mourinho’s trusted stalwarts ( Nemanja Matic, Ander Herrera Romelu Lukaku) have all flourished under Solskjaer with the latter scoring six goals in his last four games. They were 11 points behind the top four when Ole came United have won away at Spurs, Chelsea, Arsenal and recently PSG since Ole arrived. One of Mourinho’s problem, when he was at the helm, was that he made United looked like underdogs irrespective of who they played. However, Solskjaer has banished such mentality. He has instilled a new sense of belief to the team, and that was evident in the win against PSG where United was missing up to 10 first team players. He has given the team confidence that they can beat anyone.”
However, the first leg loss to PSG showed Ole Gunnar is not the finished article and needs to improve on his in-game management which was lacking in the loss. Nevertheless, it would be a surprise at the end of the season if he is not given the job on a full-time basis.