Written by Ollie Barefoot
Despite being in the top two of bwin’s Premier League manager sack race and having a win ratio of only 48.9% as Manchester United manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is in many ways saving the Red Devils.
The Manchester outfit which was once known for its football dominance under previous managers like, Sir Alex Ferguson and Sir Matt Busby, has been in decline since the departure of club legend and football icon Ferguson.
Ferguson who was in charge of the Red Devils for 26 years, is considered to be one of the greatest football managers ever, winning more trophies than any other manager in history. Born in Glasgow, Scotland, Ferguson took charge of United in 1986 and led the Mancunian club to 38 trophies, including 13 Premier League titles and 2 UEFA Champion leagues.
However, it wasn’t just the trophy cabinet that grew and changed during Fergusons legacy, but the core nature of the club as well.
Ferguson brought back the spirit and ideology of the 1955 ‘Busby Babes’, by using the club’s own youth programme, to develop and bring through youth players – a trend united did before, but never to this scale.
Alex Ferguson became known for his sharp eye for star youth prospects and single handily moulded players into stars.
David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville are just a few household names in the football community, that formed the so called ‘Fergie’s Fledglings’; a clear homage to Sir Matt Busby’s ‘Busby Babes’.
Together, Fergie and his famous youth team won award after award and became a force to be reckoned with, but this all changed after Fergusons tenure came to an end in 2013.
Since then, United have mauled their way through four managers in five years, in a desperate attempt to find Fergies replacement, which until ex-united striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer seemed hopeless.
On the 28 March 2019, Solskjaer was appointed permanent manager of Manchester United, after winning 14 of his 19 games in charge as caretaker boss.
However, Solskjaer’s form as manager has since dipped, with United currently sitting 10th in the Premier League table after 11 games in charge of his first full season; leaving many to wonder if he will soon be the next manager to be axed.
But despite the poor results on the pitch, Ole is getting results off it.
Solskjaer is rebuilding the United spirit that has been neglected and forgotten about in previous years by managers prior to himself. By bringing through youth and investing in young British talent, he is quickly being compared to Ferguson and Busby.
With a defence combination of new summer signings Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire, sitting alongside 24-year-old Luke Shaw, new manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, is injecting the United team with youthful English talent.
Further up the pitch the trend continues, with youth products, Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba, Jessie Lingard and Andreas Pereira flooding the team’s midfield; with a further bombardment of youth running the attack, with players such as Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood and Daniel James, providing young options in the front line.
Solskjaer’s young squad may not be competing for the title, or even the top three, but his squad – struggling or not – is a breath of fresh air compared to previous United sides.
But it isn’t only the talent he’s bringing in that has got many comparing him to Ferguson, but also the so called ‘talent’ that he’s got rid of.
Solskjaer has proved that he’s not afraid to sell big name stars, with the summer departures of Romelu Lukaku to Inter Milan and Alexis Sanchez following him to the Italian outfit, Ole is creating a squad that fits his ideology and cutting any deadwood from his ranks.
These bold moves mirror them made by Fergie once again, as neither were afraid to sell a club top goal scorer, with Solskjaer selling Lukaku and Ferguson selling Beckham.
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Too Early To Draw That Comparison
So, as many are quick to point fingers at a team dropping points, many are quick to ignore the rebuild actually going on and with a clear aim and strong youth set up behind him, Solskjaer really could be Manchester United’s new club legend.
Written by Ollie Barefoot