What is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer? A comfort blanket?

Date published: Saturday 29th May 2021 10:09 - Editor F365

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Man Utd

It is the Champions League final on Saturday night but it’s all about Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Man United. Send your mails to theeditor@football365.com


The year is 2035. Man Utd finish the season in 5th. Pundits and fans agree that they are just 3 or 4 players away from a title run….


What is an Ole?
Is it a cute teddy that you take to bed at night to feel warm and safe, with his round happy little face always smiling in a non-threatening way, nice little Ole.

Or is he a soft and fuzzy blankie you can bring with you in the car to different and scary places, put Ole beside me Mammy, he is lovely to cuddle.

These are the images of United fans persistent and inexplicable (to me at least) defence of Ole as their manager.

I hear rational, well informed fans I know time and again saying he’s not great but he’s really nice/sound and we are making some progress so give him more time.

Genuine question: are large sections of the United fanbase still traumatised by Fergie’s departure and the subsequent horror show that was Moyes/LVG/Jose? After a generation of unprecedented success are they incapable of dealing with any more abuse. Do they just want everybody to be nice and happy for a while? Is Ole their safety blankie that we all know they need to give up but they’re just not ready yet?

Paul Scholes said after the final that United have become a team everybody likes. What more damning indictment is there of this manager and his squad. Where is the United I know and hate, cmon lads, time to give the Ole back to Mammy and come out and play with the big boys again.


Man United have to be ruthless
My team Manchester United unfortunately fell short for the fifth time in the past year and a half..

I believe that hard decisions need to be taken.

Most managers in high office resign when their business fails to deliver.

Ole should do the same.

A hard decision has to be made with respect to David De Gea who three years ago was on top of his game but has made far too many mistakes since and he is also a serial failure at penalty kicks.

The coaching staff have also failed this esteemed club with their failure to identify the weakness in defending free kicks, corners and in disciplining players to reduce their reckless tackling in their half.

The continuous use Rashford who should have been rested towards the last few weeks to fully recover from his foot injuries which did not occur and resulted in a poor display in the Europa final.

Ole failed in preparing the team tactically for the finals. He did not make proper and timely substitutions and he is just out of depth at this level.

Our team’s second position in the league should not be taken as an improvement as other teams’ results misrepresented what could have been achieved by those teams. But I am happy for second..

However the true test comes in next season Champion League, and if Ole is still there, the same will occur.

A hard look must be made at the present team which lacks vision, belief, belly and Manchester traits that nothing but over 100% is demanded at all times..

Bailly, Lindelof cannot bring the ball out. Van De Beek is not trusted and he himself plays as if the ball is boiling water and passes off without creating, Fred although industrious makes far too many errors and gives away dangerous free kicks away,

Management needs to be decisive..
Gerard Mahabir from Trinidad


Dissing Wan-Bissaka
Reading through some of the opinions from Utd fans on what Solskjaer has done well and hasn’t done well, one prevailing opinion stood out. Whenever anyone mentions Utd’s recruitment under him, they use Wan-Bissaka as an example of a successful purchase. Then today you have F365 saying a top coach could convert him into a right sided centre back in a three. All of that is nonsense.

On Wednesday night Villarreal had a clear tactic to funnel Utd’s passes out to Wan-Bissaka. They know he’s absolutely zero threat on the ball and will consistently just pass it back inside laterally. On the odd occasions he attempts a dribble it is rather comical. Teams have done this fairly regularly to Utd and it can work well. Utd’s attacks regularly come to nothing as soon as possession reaches him. His technical ability on the ball is barely Championship level.

Apparently, this is acceptable because he is an incredible defender. He really, really isn’t. He is a very good slide-tackler. When you see a player constantly resort to this sort of last-ditch defending, it doesn’t mean they are good. Look at the best defenders, Van Dijk the obvious example, you almost never see him resort to going to ground, heck the guy barely breaks a sweat during a game. Of course, he is a cut above anyone but the point still stands – the best defenders are pro-active rather than reactive. You will also see bissaka let the ball get played in behind him, instead of cutting off passing lanes higher up the pitch. The ball goes in behind and he will then use his athleticism to get back and make a slide tackle for which he will be roundly praised, yet the opposition now have a throw or corner 50-60 yards up the pitch. He solves problems with his pace/strength that are as a result of his own poor defending/positioning. His positioning is woeful and he regularly switches off. Watch how often he gets caught out at the back post when the ball comes from Utd’s left. They’ve conceded several goals from this this season and countless more chances. For this reason, trying to convert him to centre back in a 3 would be a disaster.

The reason Utd were even in the Europa League in the first place was due to Nagelsmann relentlessly targeting him in the return game that saw Utd dumped out of the Champions League. All three goals came down his side and there was a clear focus to exploit him all game. Of course, this is just one game but it was a good example of a team deliberately setting out to target his deficiencies.

If Utd want to improve, he is one of the players that desperately needs upgrading. Fortunately for rivals, this won’t happen anytime soon given the outrageous transfer fee. A better coach than Solskjaer would certainly realise the need for it, though. The guy is a great slide tackler, but a poor defender and a liability when in possession.
Shane, LFC, Ireland


What does the coach do?
Gary Vance made the point of ‘It’s not the managers fault he sometimes cannot hit a 10 yard pass or he has a tendency to give the ball to the other team. I can only assume this is not being coached into him – “today Fred we’re going to work on you kicking the ball out of play”.’

I think the issue here is that he’s not coaching it out of him either.


Bullying? Behave
There was an email which referred to the criticism of Ole as bullying.

This is maybe the silliest email I’ve seen from a united fan. Nobody is laughing at oles hairstyle or saying he talks funny or even saying he drives a girl’s car.

People are saying that maybe he’s not a very good manager. Is that really bullying just because they’ve been saying it for a long time?

There is a remedy for it. Start winning things.

The simple truth is Ole is not a winner, and this is where the criticism stems from. He willingly threw in the towel in the hunt for a Premier League trophy (it was admittedly unlikely but still possible) to rest his players for a game against Liverpool (that didn’t matter to United) and a Europa League final (which he didn’t win).

That’s not a winner’s mentality. Nobody who is a winner decides to stop bothering with the biggest prize in England on a silly quest to keep their rivals out of champs league.

The truth is not only does Ole not really improve many players (I’ll give him wan bissaka who Def looks better) but he’s terrible at identifying and buying players too. Most of his own signings sat on the bench v Villarreal, while he had mostly pre-Ole players on the pitch. What kind of manager doesn’t even play the players he himself bought?

You’re probably never gonna get relegated with Ole in charge and you’ll probably always qualify for the champs league, but I seriously doubt you’ll ever win a trophy because as a manager Ole is not a winner.

While we’re at it the fact United fans bombarded Rashford with racism afterwards is disgraceful, but not surprising after the fans’ behaviour lately. You realise you’re just advertising your club to new signings badly right?


…I’ve been seeing quite a few emails from Man United fans attacking Football 365 for their constant criticism of Ole. I find this quite hilarious because the vast majority of the criticism I have seen of Ole in the mailbox (and social media as well) is from other United fans. Pretty much every bad result they had this season has resulted in half the mailbox being contributions from angry United fans. They’ve constantly second guessed him and criticized his tactics and have accused him of not developing any of the players. I also see United fans constantly attack their own player s- to hear them tell it, about half the team is crap or mediocre. I hate to break it to you guys, but the call is coming from inside the house.

With that in mind, it is deeply strange to see people write in to say Football 365 is the real problem. If you guys want to start pointing fingers on this issue, you should probably start with your own fans.
Turiyo Damascene, Kigali, Rwanda


Still #OleIn here
It’s sad to see United fans go up in arms with the @Oleout brigade. It was one match ffs, which we lost in the 11th spotkick in the penalty shootout. Accept the result and move on. The season overall was an improvement, both in terms of results and league position, as well as style of play and entertainment value. Next season is the critical one for Ole – he needs to challenge for the title and learn from his mistakes. Namely:

  • ensure teams start the matches better,
  • not shoot in the foot by leaving a player on a yellow card against a team looking to get him sent off ( Fred/PSG), be more ruthless in decision making
  • do a better ingame management and make better ingame decisions. ex. the only thing I can fault him for the final was leaving DDG knowing his penalty saving record
  • Finally, rotate the squad better and trust the squad over the whole season, rather than running the first team to ground. this is the second successive season this happened

Would have loved if we had won the trophy, but every cloud has a silver lining. With Real, PSG, Juve, Barca all in Pot 2, it might just be a better pot to be in than Pot 1 for the CL draw. Unless ofcourse, we end in the group with Bayern. Oh..
Rishi, MUFC, Dublin


What did Pep ever do for Man City?
Lee did a great job of destroying his own lame argument. ‘Pep has not achieved anything more than his predecessors’, aside from keep City at the top (as you stated). So you’ve nuked your own tenuous point. Plus you overlooked Pep retaining the title, or winning all three domestic trophies in one season, or getting to a Champions League final, or breaking numerous Wins, Points, Goal Difference, Winning Margin etc etc PL records. I mean this is almost a ‘what did the Romans do for us’ sketch.
Andy D. Manchester. MCFC


Footballers have spare time
I find it really odd that people think footballers should have time for nothing but football then try to blame form on extra curricular activity.

Footballers should do nothing but football is probably what led to drink, but drugs and gambling issues in the past and is not healthy.

It really is quite a statement to suggest that a footballer cannot campaign for something they believe in and do the day job. They have more spare time than the rest of us or is it they can only believe in the same person the person criticises believes in.

I remember criticising Rio at QPR and then I found out his wife was dying of cancer – life is not simple.
Paul (with extra curricular interests) and Rhodes


What would you do if you were Joe Willock?
Like many other viewers I’ve been delighted to see Joe Willock’s impressive performance at Newcastle and I totally agree with your article. Naturally Arsenal are looking to keep him now they know how good he is, but here’s the question for the mailbox: given the choice, would you rather play for this functional (occasionally dysfunctional) Arsenal side as an occasional player or go to Newcastle, become the main man and the fans’ favourite? Is it really any fun being at a mid-table Arsenal as opposed to an exciting but lower-half side?
Paul in Brussels (love watching Allan Saint-Maximin as well)


Always choose family
A quick one to Chris. Firstly, well done for choosing your mum over the football. My missed game story took place five years ago. My cousin was marrying a Welsh girl in Cardiff. The Friday night before the wedding was Wales v Belgium and I was excited at the prospect of being in Cardiff for the match. We could watch Wales play in a packed pub and soak up the atmosphere. Then I found out that Dad had booked a fancy dinner to celebrate Mum’s 60th birthday (which had been the Thursday). We got updates of the famous Welsh win through the game but didn’t see a kick.

Six months later mum got really ill and a year after that she passed away. Turns out it was a pretty good reason to miss the match. If you ever have to choose between football and family, choose your family.
Mike, LFC, London


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