This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
When the announcement was made that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had replaced Jose Mourinho as caretaker manager, few could have predicted the start the Norwegian made.
Manchester United had dramatically transformed themselves virtually overnight, and were rattling off wins left, right and centre with eight in a row. But then the victory train stopped, and United were brought back to reality as they finished outside the Champions League places.
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The Norwegian’s track record in his previous job as manager of a Premier League club was hardly one that heralded him as the ‘next Pep Guardiola’. The Red Devils took a punt on a former player with legendary status, and the glorious honeymoon period that followed his appointment fizzled out rather tamely by the end. Indeed, two embarrassing results against Huddersfield and Cardiff to round off the season certainly didn’t paint Solskjaer in the greatest of lights.
The poor end to the campaign is why Solskjaer will be under even more pressure to get back to producing results as soon as possible. He may have some credit amongst the United hierarchy and fan base for being one of the treble-winning heroes in 1999, but as previous managers have found at Old Trafford, reputation doesn’t always count for everything. Jose Mourinho and Louis van Gaal were both hugely experienced managers, but found themselves ousted despite delivering silverware.
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The Red Devils’ first Premier League game of the season sees them take on fellow ‘big six’ rival Chelsea, and whilst it will only be the opening fixture, a lot will be riding on it. Win, and Solskjaer will have have something to build on. Lose, and the naysayers could be out in force early questioning why a manager who failed at Cardiff could conceivably be deemed good enough to be the leading man for one of the best sides in the world, who will take the club back towards its former glories.
For all of his success as a player at United, the Norwegian remains an inexperienced quantity in the world of management. Better and far wiser managers than him have taken on the hot-seat at Old Trafford and found themselves burned. Football is an unforgiving place, and if Solskjaer’s start to the new season begins like how the last one ended, then he could be the latest in line to get their United P45s.