When Jose Mourinho was sacked as Manchester United manager it would have hardly come as a surprise to anyone in world football and in all likelihood, Mourinho probably wasn’t that shocked either. Mourinho’s sacking was a long time in the offing after a turbulent spell at Old Trafford that left the club lingering in sixth position with a points total of 26 which is the club’s lowest at this stage of the season since the 1990/1991 campaign.
It looks bad on paper but it was even worse in reality with the players having very obviously given up on trying to impress Mourinho. The disharmony in the dressing room was there for all to see and some may have questioned why it took vice-president Ed Woodward this long to pull the trigger.
Mourinho has now packed up the contents of his hotel room after 895 days at the Lowry Hotel and hightailed it back to the familiar surroundings of his £25m London home. An SOS was sent off to Molde as United asked the club if they could borrow their former player Ole Gunnar Solskjaer until the end of the season. The Norwegian club obliged and now the ‘baby-faced assassin’ will be tasked with steadying the ship until the end of the season.
— United Xtra (@utdxtra) December 18, 2018
All in all, it is quite a bizarre setup and it should probably be seen as Solskjaer undergoing an audition for the job instead of definitely agreeing to go back to Molde in the summer. The former Manchester United forward has managed in the Premier League before when he took charge of Cardiff but it was far from fruitful as the Norwegian oversaw the Bluebirds relegation and subsequently stepped down after a poor start to life in the Championship.
It has gone a fair bit better in Norway with Molde as Solskjaer managed to win 66 of the 118 matches he was in charge for. There’s no doubt that the Manchester United job is an altogether different challenge and with any ambitions of winning the league all but gone, the Norwegian will be asked to take the club as deep as he can into the European knockout stages.
It will be a baptism of fire for Solskjaer in the Champions League after the Red Devils were drawn against PSG in the round of 16. Currently, United are at 11/4 to progress to the quarterfinals in Champions League betting and based on the form of Manchester United this season it wouldn’t be out of line to suggest Neymar and Co. will run riot at the Theatre of Dreams if things don’t change very quickly.
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) December 19, 2018
The real work for Solskjaer will be done in the change room. The 45-year old simply has to get the players on his side or else face more of the same from a squad that are very capable of digging their heels in when they feel they are being hard done by.
It should be easier for Solskjaer given the scrutiny on the underperforming players will be intense as pundits look to see if there has been any improvement since Mourinho’s departure.
There can be no more excuses from the squad at Old Trafford now the ‘Special One’ has departed. It may not be spectacular by any means but Solskjaer should to some extent resurrect United’s season, after all, it can’t get any worse, can it?