DRIVER DISMISSED, GAS EXHAUSTED; OLE NOT AT THE WHEEL ANYMORE

The revisionism and Ole’s time at Manchester United

The revisionism and Ole’s time at Manchester United

The revisionism and Ole's time at Manchester United

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s past few weeks at Manchester United have been marred by defeat, individual errors, a lack of squad cohesion, and repeated leaks to the media regarding the status of the players and how some of them appear to have lost faith in him. It will definitely be the most memorable aspect of the Norwegian’s three years with the club for some people, prompting a rewriting of history. However, it isn’t the whole picture. 

When I think of his time with United, all I can recall is hope, optimism, and, most importantly, belief. There has never been a time when Solskjaer has attacked a player or taken credit for a victory while shifting blame to someone other than himself after a loss. No, he made himself the wall between the squad and the forces in the media, even going overboard to protect the board – sometimes when they didn’t deserve it. People even blamed him for a loss in a youth game at one point.

Solskjaer took over a club that was in desperate need of a rebuild. The club was entirely out of touch with reality when it came to where they were and where they hoped to be. Ole mostly followed through on his promise of a rebuild. He did pull it off. He took over a team that included Alexis Sanchez, Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo, Ashley Young, Marouane Fellaini, Timothy Fosu-Mensah. He replaced them with Jadon Sancho, Bruno Fernandes, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Donny Van De Beek, Raphael Varane, and others.

Regardless of how you feel about the Norwegian, the club is unquestionably better now than it was three years ago. The rebuilding process, however, did not end with the players he acquired. In fact, It didn’t begin there. With Mason Greenwood, Tahith Chong, and Brandon Williams among the first few young players he brought into the first team, we saw a significant shift in how United developed younger talent and transitioned them into the first team.

He oversaw the massive overhaul in the medical department and addressed the fitness issues that plagued the club since the days of David Moyes. Because of Jose Mourinho’s emphasis on defensive football, we saw how unfit the squad had become before Ole took over. He changed that. He said he wanted a Manchester United team that was the fittest in the league, and for a time, they were.

The revisionism and Ole's time at Manchester United

During Solskjaer’s tenure, the club’s structure changed significantly, with the addition of a Technical Director and a Director of Football for the first time in the club’s history. These were appointments made during his reign, and while the nature of these appointments can be debated, what is undeniable is that they were what most fans wanted. Ole wanted to build a Manchester United that was fundamentally Manchester United, so he put people in essential roles who knew the club and its culture.

Under Ole, United have enjoyed a great run. I recall when he equaled Pep Guardiola and Carlo Ancelotti’s records by winning his first six games in charge. He broke a 20-year-old record for the biggest away victory. He also became the second manager in history to defeat Pep three times in a single season and equaled a record held by Sir Alex Ferguson for 32 years for finishing inside the top 3 in his first full season. For the first time in club history, he led the team to an unbeaten away finish in the league. I made a thread about it. And who can forget about that night in Paris – you know the one.

As always, there will undoubtedly be people who will dispute all of this and choose to remember only the darkest and most dreadful moments. I can’t fault them for it. Some in the fan base seem to latch on to every bit of negativity they can find. That will never stop, not even with a new manager. But it will also never change the facts. Solskjaer did a great job at United. He couldn’t take the next step, but he did his best, and some of the moments he made with this squad will never be forgotten – for some of us, at least.

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