Jose Mourinho’s sacking, for the most part was welcomed by a large number of Manchester United fans as the club’s supporters had long grown tired of watching their side utilise a negative style of play whilst also struggling to win games in the Premier League.
Club legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was brought in on a temporary basis to replace Jose Mourinho. The initial idea behind Solskjaer’s appointment was to bring back a feeling of joy at Old Trafford by appointing an ex-player with managerial experience whilst thoroughly searching for Mourinho’s long-term replacement.
So far, Solskjaer has been successful at making Manchester United fans happy again, he’s done exactly was he was brought in for and in doing so, he’s perhaps inadvertently opened the door to a permanent appointment but the circumstance of his short-term appointment in itself somewhat discredits Manchester United’s current performance as a basis for Solskjaer’s long-term appointment.
Manchester United were always going to play better under Solskjaer. The restrictions that were present under Mourinho ceased to exist the moment he was relieved of his duties – the team can now play to its full attacking potential under Solskjaer.
In addition to that, they players will be looking to impress in a bid to get more game time in the coming months. A similar thing happened when Mourinho got sacked at Chelsea in 2015 and Guus Hiddink was brought in as a caretaker manager – the Blues suddenly found their form. It’s quite common for teams to play better when a new manager is signed, especially if it occurs mid-season – it’s almost an expected reaction to a managerial change.
Solskjaer hasn’t done anything revolutionary, it can be argued that United would perform similarly if any other manager with or without an affiliation to the club took over (although the fact that Solsksjaer is an ex-player has certainly helped his popularity amongst the fans) – what United are going through right now is more or less a honeymoon period.
Former Crystal Palace owner Simon Jordan described Solskjaer’s role as United’s caretaker boss as one where he “can’t lose”.
He told Talksport “He was always going to walk in the door, he was always going to pick the big players, he’s not going to make any unpopular decisions and he’s not going to have any confrontation, so all of the players who felt wronged or maligned or not as important as they’d like to be are not going to have that on their toes anymore”
There isn’t a real sense of expectation surrounding Manchester United at the moment bar good football.
United could end the season in 6th-place and with a Champions League Round of 16 appearance having been knocked out against PSG and It would probably be said that there wasn’t much Solskjaer could do considering the mess Mourinho left him. The lack of any real achievement would be overshadowed by the fact that he got the team back to playing attacking football so at the end of it all he’d probably be even more revered than he already is.
For Solskjaer to truly make a claim for a permanent role at the club he’d need to do something special such as securing a top four finish or getting his side past PSG in the Champions League and into the latter stages of the competition, maybe to the Semis or even the final. It needs to be a feat that can serve as a testament to his ability, one that wouldn’t be expected of any caretaker manager, one that would’ve been considered unrealistic but somehow managed to occur because Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was the one in charge of Manchester United, not anyone else. Funnily enough, Solskjaer needs to be the special one.
Manchester United are in a delicate situation at the moment. They have to get their next managerial appointment right lest they risk having another Jose Mourinho situation at the club. Solskjaer isn’t the guy who will get United to the heights they attained under Sir Alex Ferguson until he proves otherwise.