Have Manchester United Really Progressed Under Solskjær?

Posted: January 12, 2021 in Arsenal, Chelsea, Football, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Opinion, Premier League, Tottenham Hotspur
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Currently sitting joint first in the Premier League, (goal difference only counts after the last game is played), many Manchester United supporters, desperate for Olé Gunnar Solskjær to succeed in the job are claiming that there has been distinct progression made under the Norwegian. The question is; are they right or do they just WANT to be right?

The idea of United being successfully managed by a former player is always appealing to fans and is currently also being tried and tested at Chelsea, Arsenal and Inter Milan with varying degrees of success/failure.

The idea is that a former player knows the club ‘inside out’ and will have no problem settling into the job. This theory, unfortunately, disregards the possibility that he may not be a very good manager!

So has Solskjær really progressed? Well, he has shifted some deadwood but, of the three who have left, only one could really be considered deadwood moved on by the manager. Marouane Fellaini received an offer from China he couldn’t refuse and Solskjær was actually reluctant to let him go. Romelu Lukaku didn’t fit the style of play envisaged by the Norwegian but, as the club’s top scorer, he could hardly be described as ‘deadwood’. Chris Smalling was finally moved on despite United being a tad unreasonable in their asking price for a 30 year-old who they didn’t want.

The likes of Phil Jones, Jesse Lingard and Marcos Rojo are still there and are proving difficult to sell due to their salaries.

On field progression is also a debatable subject. The question here is whether you consider winning more trophies than the previous manager as being progression, or playing a more attractive style of football.

Solskjær is certainly losing the comparison when it comes to trophies. In fact he has become a serial semi-final loser! He has now lost four! Two to Manchester City in the Carabao Cup, one to Chelsea in the FA Cup and one to Sevilla in the Europa League. He will have a chance to put things right in both the Europa League and the FA Cup this season as, thanks to bad tactics and team selection, United no longer have any interest in the Champion’s League. Having snatched defeat from the jaws of victory when only one point was needed from two games, (against teams they had already beaten), they have been relegated to the ‘B’ competition but they have managed to scrape past Watford in the FA Cup, so a decent run is possible there.

Bruno Fernandes – the catalyst that has resulted in some of United’s best results and games for a long time

Their league position is a little freakish and is more a statement of how strange a season this is than anything else. Granted there have been times when United have played very well but, equally, there have been times when they have been abysmal. In fact, had it not been for the signing of Bruno Fernandes last January, (a signing Ed Woodward still almost managed to make a mess of), United would certainly not have enjoyed the renaissance of last season which saw them finish in third place!

In losing at home to the likes of Crystal Palace, Tottenham and Arsenal and only managing tepid draws against City and Chelsea, straightaway their return from those five games was a paltry two points from a possible fifteen when a more realistic haul should have been ten.

Fortunately for Solskjær, Liverpool and City also experienced some freak results and the season currently sees the likes of Leicester, Aston Villa and Everton occupying some of the top slots!

So, in conclusion, it is still, (yes, after 2 years), too early to know if any REAL progress has been made as the team is actually doing only slightly better than last season and the jury will be out until the end of the season when the gongs are handed out. If Solskjær doesn’t win a trophy and doesn’t finish at least third in the league then no progress has been made on the pitch.

As far as off the pitch is concerned, the only improvements to be made there would be a change to this static backroom coaching team and the disappearance of Ed Woodward followed very closely by the Glazers!

Is that a pig I saw fly past the window?

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