Solskjær - ‘an unavoidable mistake’

Published: Friday, 29 March 2019

This is why I couldn’t ever be a columnist - I’m not regular enough! Anyway - it’s nice to be back - again.

‘An unavoidable mistake’ Simon Jordan called it. He was talking about the appointment of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at United. I’m probably in the minority here - but I like Simon. He’s calls it the way he believes it is. As someone who’s invested the best part of £38m of his own money in a football club - and subsequently lost the lot - I think he’s allowed an opinion. And he’s a good deal better informed about many aspects of the game than many.

I think it was ‘avoidable’. I would’ve avoided it. I wish Ole all the luck in the world and I desperately hope it’s the right decision - but I wouldn’t have made it. I certainly wouldn’t have made it now. Why? What is there to gain?

Solskjaer has been terrific in his role as ‘temporary’ manager - no-one can deny that. But he’s been as lucky at times as he has been refreshing. Nothing wrong with that mind you - as Napoleon once said ‘give me a lucky general rather than a good one’.

Let me explain. I heard a lot of nonsense about ‘game plans’ when United went to Wembley and beat Spurs 1-0 in the league. Game plan? Come on. I don’t doubt that United had worked on nicking the ball back from Spurs high up the pitch - and the way they executed that plan was first class. Pogba’s ball was terrific - and what a finish from Rashford. But that’s where the ‘plan’ ended - or had Solskjær ‘planned’ for United to get blown away 2nd half and have to rely on de Gea making five world class saves? United could - and should have been buried under an avalanche of goals.

Discussing this with Andy the other day - he was right when he said that United were twice played off the park by PSG In the Champions League. They lost comfortably at Old Trafford and won in Paris courtesy of two of the worst goals conceded in that competition this season - and a VAR penalty that they should never have had. Having said that - full marks to Rashford for the way he tucked it away.

They were taken apart at Arsenal and all too easily beaten at Wolves in the FA Cup. So, what’s the sum total of what Solskjær has done?

He’s got players smiling. He’s got fans smiling. He’s got both believing, which is worth its weight in gold. But as we start again this weekend, United are still outside the top 4 and we know they’re not going to win the champions league. What if the season ends like that? What sort of success has Solskjær been then?

That’s why I would’ve waited - and then appointed Mauricio Pochettino. No matter how popular Solskjaer is with United fans, does his appointment frighten anybody else in the Premier League - or beyond. I can’t imagine they’re too bothered in Madrid. They’ve got a 3-times CL winner back in Zidane. Are Barca worried? Or Juve? Or Paris even? Are City? Or Liverpool? I think not.

I keep being told ‘there would’ve been a riot’ had Solskjær not been given the job. No there wouldn’t. United fans would have turned up as usual for the opening game of next season - and Solskjær would’ve been forgotten when Harry Kane cracked in their first goal of the new campaign - applauded by Pochettino. Now that would’ve frightened a few clubs.

All Solskjaer’s problems are ahead of him. What’s he going to do about Pogba? He’s uncontrollable - and flirting with Madrid again. What now Solskjaer has now got to start upsetting players? What’s he going to do - leave Pogba out? He can’t. And Pogba knows it. So he’s got the run of the place - exactly as it was put to me recently try by a United ‘insider’ 😂. (I’ll let you work out who it was!) I was told that Pogba was fine when big Ibra controlled the dressing room - but once he’d gone and Pogba took over - that’s when the trouble started. All the young players gravitated towards him - and instead of talking football the conversation was all about haircuts, clothes and cars.

On the subject of Ibra - I know the Class of ‘92 didn’t take kindly to his comments recently - but I’m with him. I strongly believe United should’ve gone another route - and broken ‘the circle of Ferguson’ as Ibra put it. There’s an argument they’ve tried - but Pochettino would’ve been the right choice to continue down that path. Fergie’s time has come and gone. He casts a long shadow over the club - just as Busby did - and it was only when United broke free of his influence that they got it right. Let’s never forget that, although Fergie won a title in his last season, he left a team desperately in need of surgery. At the time I said they were eight players short - and I got hammered. But they were. Van Persie’s goals papered over a lot of cracks in Fergie’s last season. The Class of ‘92 have United right where they want them and they’ve been falling over themselves to congratulate Solskjaer - and take the credit for his appointment. Next - the Chief Exec’s office. You watch.....

Anyway - Solskjaer it is. And I genuinely wish him well, because our league needs a strong United. But it was ‘an avoidable mistake’.