Jose Mourinho is no longer the coach of Manchester United. The Old Trafford side acted quickly and has already announced the substitute, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who will lead the team on an interim basis until the end of the current season. 

There are some hefty challenges for Solskjaer and this United squad. Solskjaer has very little time ahead of Saturday’s league game against Cardiff to implement a system. The busy Christmas period, an unforgiving time for even the best teams, will be a test for this United side.


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Who is Solskjaer?

Born in Kristiansund, Norway, Solskjaer is 45 and has been training Molde in Norway since 2015. The former striker was revealed by a team from his hometown of Clausenengen, for which he played 109 matches and scored 115 goals, taking an average of more than one goal per game.

Before arriving in England as a player, he played for Molde, in which he played for two seasons, maintaining a good goal average. Solskjaer landed at Old Trafford in 1996 and stayed in Manchester until 2007 when he retired.

At the time of his contract, for two and a half million euros, United wanted Alan Shearer, who was then hired by Newcastle United. Solskjaer was a stranger in England, but soon showed how important he would be for Sir Alex Ferguson’s team. United’s eternal 20 Shirt was nicknamed “Baby-Face Killer,” because of his youthful appearance and his all-important goals at breakneck times. Having never been an absolute starter during his eleven seasons wearing United’s red shirt, the former Norwegian striker surprised by the number of goals and key interventions coming off the bench.


Past glorious, challenging present

With a strong presence in the past of the Red Devils, it is not difficult to see why Solskjaer was chosen to succeed Mourinho. The expectation, however, remains to know how the Norwegian will act in the face of an actuality filled with pending and emergency coordination to be made.

To do this, working and bringing back forgotten players and simply lying down – without hard explanations, most of the time – under Mourinho’s coma, should also be a priority for Ole.

It is not possible to stipulate how much Solskjaer will have power and influence in any indications of reinforcements for the winter window. It is essential, therefore, to act with what the caretaker already has at his disposal.

Paul Pogba puzzle

When France went on to win this summer’s World Cup in Russia, Paul Pogba was a leader. It seemed both on the track and through the garment clips from the documentary video, that followed the team. So why does he not look like that in Manchester United?

Over the autumn it became apparent that the relationship between Pogba and former manager Jose Mourinho became ever hotter. Pogba was deprived of the captain’s band, was no longer allowed to step in the interviews after fighting and was pushed out into the cold. When Manchester United needed to score against Liverpool last weekend, the player who was considered a creative force was still bolted to the bench.

Players’ confidence

Those who have followed Manchester United closely through the fall, describe a player group who is losing self-esteem. Mourinho’s confrontational leadership style, often in public, is pointed out as a central cause. That is why in Manchester it is said that an important reason for Solskjaer’s appointment was to “bring back the smiles”.

“The morale in the dressing room has been low because several of the players have had brutal criticism in recent years,” said one United leader.

“The whole team needs a mental lift. The potential of the team is much greater than what has been shown in this fall. It is Solskjaer’s job to bring this forward.”

Solskjaer, however, also has the ability to say clearly when it is needed. Erling Moe, the man who will lead Molde in Solskjaer’s absence, is among those who have pointed this out.

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The other stars

It’s not just Pogba that at times has emerged as a shadow of himself. For example, Alexis Sanchez has had very little to show his worth since the move from Arsenal almost a year ago. In addition, starring Romelu Lukaku has had a heavy fall. Mourinho has had a fever with several of his biggest stars. The United management is now hoping that Solskjaer can help the club hold more of the stars.

David de Gea and Anthony Martial should have been skeptical to extend the contracts. The club had to trigger a clause to extend them to summer 2020, but the hope is that they under Solskjaer want to commit themselves for a longer period.

“That players like Pogba, Sanchez and Lukaku, players who have signed with too much money did not know if they had a future at the first team were a big problem,” said a British football journalist.

Now, to advance in the Champions League and at least to gain a place for European competition through the Premier League will be a consequence of how Solskjaer will act on what justifies hiring an interim, the ability to deal with emergencies.


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