‘Ole at the wheel’ the sentiments echoed by the jubilant Manchester United fans after finishing third behind champions Liverpool and Manchester City in what could be dubbed as a ‘roller coaster’ season.
In December 2018, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was confirmed as caretaker manager of United for the remainder of that season. Life at Manchester United could not have been better for Ole in his first 10 games. No other United manager had won their first eight straight games at the helm, Ole had nine wins and a draw from his first ten.
Solskjaer's start is comfortably the best ever enjoyed in the first 10 games. Sir Matt Busby and Frank O'Farrell are his nearest rivals in terms of return, having won seven, drawn two and lost one in the same number of matches.
After an incredibly successful spell as interim manager, Solskjaer was given the job on a full-time basis in March 2019. The Norwegian was given a three-year deal following 10 wins out of 13 in the Premier League and a comeback victory against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.
Fast-forward to 2019/2020 season. If there is anything Ole would want to forget in his managerial career it is the start of the recently concluded season.
After the first 10 games Ole had a record of 3W 4D and 3L which is the worst start for Manchester United in the EPL over the past 30 years. With several new managerial faces in the league, such as Dean Smith, Frank Lampard, and Mikel Arteta, Ole was still resolute in making a name for himself.
In his quest to do so, the Norwegian brought in the sensational Portuguese superstar Bruno Fernandes in the January window. Since joining the club Fernandes has scored 8 goals and made 7 assists, picking up two player of the month awards and several man of the match awards in his 14 EPL games.
Manchester United’s 0-2 lost to Burnley at Old Trafford came at the back end of January. At that point they were 14 points behind Leicester City who sat comfortably in third position. With the team still trying to find their footing and a number of players injured, there came along the Covid 19 Pandemic which put a halt to the league for over three and a half months.
Critically for Solskjaer, this gave the injured Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba time to recover fully from their lengthy injuries.
Since the resumption of the league there has been a buzz around Old Trafford over the pairing of the World Cup winner Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes. They have not disappointed the United faithful . Manchester United have not lost a league game and Bruno is yet to lose a game in the league.
In their last ten league games Manchester United has recorded 7W 3D and 0L, boasting the best record since the restart. In the final hoorah, Ole and the boys have a whole lot to be proud of.
After beating Leicester City 2-0 in the final league game of the season and securing a champions league spot, all eyes are now on finishing of the season with the Europa Cup title.
Only the champions Liverpool lost fewer games than Manchester United this term and only Liverpool and Manchester City has conceded fewer goals than United, leaving David DeGea third in the number of clean sheets.
In Ole’s final post match interview he said “I believe in what I do, I believe in how I’ve been doing. We all have different ideas on management of how we go about things and I do it my way and I think that’s the only way I can do it.
"I have a fantastic staff, the players have bought into this, the personalities out there have taken on board what we’ve been doing. I’m not going to say I’m not the man of course, because I’m in the job. I believe in what I’m doing. If I’m getting criticised, that makes me stronger and makes me believe more in what I’m doing.
Please don’t praise me too much because you can't become complacent. That’s just the way I’m made, but I didn’t know until a few days ago, because I was just reading through them [the predictions], just me and the some of the staff and just discussing.”
Solskjaer will want to finish the season with silverware, even as he begins to chart the course for the new premier league season which begins in just 48 days time, on September 12th.