Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United tenure has sprung from high-point to high-point, the latest of which being the sensational comeback against PSG on Wednesday to see the Red Devils through to the last eight of the Champions League.
It would seem that Solskjaer and his team have surpassed every obstacle that presents itself to them and the former striker looks almost certain to land the job on a permanent basis considering the remarkable work he has done at Old Trafford.
There are three distinct unsustainable trends, though, that simply won’t continue if Solskjaer is to remain at the wheel next season and while we’ve seen the interim boss at his best, we’re yet to witness the worst.
These three factors give an insight into what life could be like when everything isn’t going Solskjaer’s way…
Having adopted a group of players whose souls had seemingly been sucked out by his predecessor, the ‘baby-faced assassin’ has instilled a huge amount of belief and positivity into the camp since his arrival and that has been evident on and off the pitch.
United have gone from one absolute extreme in Mourinho to another in Solskjaer, who has grinned his way through every interview, while the Portuguese was rarely found anywhere other than the centre of controversy and negativity.
The impact on the mood at Old Trafford is as much a reason for Solskjaer to remain in the job as the improvement in results is, but how long can the Norwegian keep it up when the Red Devils inevitably go through a rough patch?
If the smiley demeanour remains when the team isn’t performing, people may very quickly turn on Solskjaer. Equally, the constant positivity will eventually lose effect if it continues – it will lose all meaning.
Solskjaer’s approach is a breath of fresh air but could eventually become toxic.
Regardless of the aforementioned fortunate moments that, in the end, proved decisive, United should be commended for finding a way past their Parisian opposition earlier in the week considering their hefty injured list.
Alexis Sanchez, Juan Mata, Ander Herrera, Matteo Darmian, Jesse Lingard, Nemanja Matic, Phil Jones and Anthony Martial were all sidelined, while Paul Pogba was also absent through suspension.
Watch the video below to find out what Jesse Lingard is like off the pitch in the latest Match Of The Bae with Emma Conybeare…
Incredibly, the Red Devils finished the game with four teenagers on the pitch against the Ligue 1 champions and nothing should be taken away from that achievement. But youth alone can’t be relied upon for integral knockout ties if United expect to consistently challenge for top honours under Solskjaer.
And while it may seem like a paradox considering its scale and depth, not every injury crisis will prove to be this easy for Solskjaer.
Solskjaer completely threw out the defensive style imposed by Mourinho and has got the Red Devils playing attractive, attacking football, while also shoring up at the back.
The Old Trafford outfit look able to put five or six past most opponents on a good day and they have shown that they can do that – however their incredible form cannot be sustained if their expected goals for and against are anything to go by.
Man Utd under Solskjaer
Expected Goals 29.8
Goals Conceded 13
Expected Goals Against 21.3
Games played 17
Penalties won 7
— Orbinho (@Orbinho) March 6, 2019
Opta’s head of analytics offered some interesting statistics on Wednesday night that perhaps show that United have been even more lucky than perceived. Perhaps had their opposition been more clinical or United less so on a particular day, then Solskjaer might not be within touching distance of the job on a permanent basis.
In any case, it’s pretty clear United won’t stay so far ahead their expected goals on both fronts indefinitely, and eventually it will catch up with Solskjaer.