Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: Greatest tactician in Europe?

Date published: Thursday 29th October 2020 8:24

Man United were excellent – read about that here – and that has prompted lots of mails. Send yours to theeditor@football365.com


Is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the greatest tactician in Europe right now?

I’ve read a lot of nonsense about Ole over the last 12 months. ‘PE teacher’, ‘yes man’ and ‘out of his depth’ being some of the more unsavoury insults.

Rather than accept the narrative that Ole is a chancer who doesn’t deserve his job at the footballing giant that is Manchester Utd, I’d suggest that the situation is quite the opposite. He’s a brilliant tactical mind who is being hamstrung by the incompetence of his bosses.

He innovated his way through a quite ridiculous season in 19/20, a season in which he somehow managed to keep Utd in contention of a top four spot with Rashford, his sole decent striker, and Pogba, his sole creative midfielder, missing for large chunks, and with Andrea’s Pereira and Daniel James playing in their place. He took Utd on a magnificent winning run to seal third place having brought in Bruno Fernandes and brought Mason Greenwood into the fold, but those months where he kept Utd in contention pre Fernandes with a pathetically average group of players should not be forgotten.

Then we come to this season. With the board having failed miserably to reward his exploits last season with the signings that everybody could see Utd needed, he has managed to take two massive scalps already using two very different set ups. The condensed fixture schedule has really allowed him to flex his tactical muscles, with the perfect gameplans used against both PSG and Leipzig.

Ole isn’t lucky to be at Utd, Utd is lucky to have him. Let’s get a competent director of football in and help Ole achieve his massive potential.
Ken, Wisconsin


Look at Ole go…

Not bad for somebody who’s supposedly worse than Roy Hodgson eh?
Martin Mwangi


…The manager you described as the worst in the Premier League (where? Show us the link – Ed) had just masterminded his second Champions League win on the bounce against last season’s semi finalist’s who lead sit top in Germany. And they totally smashed them to buts. This a week after beating last season’s finalists.

Not bad for the worst manager in the league eh?
Ser Davos The Onion Knight


…Genuinely can’t recall the last time we beat anyone this comprehensively.
MM, Man United, India (Liverpool fans must feel so vindicated tonight after claims of “Ole’s not doing that well”)


Worst nightmare?

I was hoping for some Man Utd schadenfreude tonight. Nope. Disappointed? Oh yes! And Yikes! That was scarily Fergie European Verve. Marcus Rashford take a bow. Greenwood too. Brilliantly incisive. Favourites for Big Ears? On this form why not? And the Premier League? Well according to a reliable Man Utd F365 commenter Ole has amassed more points this year than either Pep or Klopp (Not true – Ed). So why not? Hope not but tonight that was scary quality. Great to see local lads burst the net. Yikes!
Anonymous (this could be my worst nightmare)


Diamonds are forever

I am a lady who likes diamonds and I have to say, watching last night that I am liking the diamond Ole put out. I am liking the diamond very much. Pogba seems in his groove on the left of it, much as he was at Juve and there was movement from him, Bruno and Martial, Mason and eventually Rashford and Cavani that would make Warner Bros Tasmanian Devil dizzy. The problem I foresee with it is just how God awful Aaron Wan Bisspider legs is going forward in providing the much needed width the system demands. He is a special defensive fullback. Of the old school 1990s mode. I could imagine him and Gary Neville having lads nights in together watching family entertainment shows and sharing their anecdotes and packets of crisps, but you genuinely hope he can add this attacking dimension to his game because he’d be world class.

We just pray Telles stays fit because if he doesn’t then Shaw (whose dressing room nickname I believe is “flat feet”) gives us the exact same problem on the other side of the pitch, and in the 2020s you don’t win nothing with full-backs who can’t progress themselves through the thirds with speed and accuracy. Maybe I’m just a silly lady but this is what I see with the best of City two seasons back, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.

See, this is the issue with the Ole debate. A man who can consistently engineer big wins against big teams is a man who is *at the very least* tactically astute. Besting the big boys requires a little more than the “give it to your number 10 and he’ll open them up” required against your struggling yet proper football clubs like Fulham and West Brom. No. Ole’s issue comes with his acquisitions who on the face of it all seem eminently sensible and coherent, save for Dan James, but a number don’t fit into any kind of system that enables a club like United to win the league. Maguire can’t leave too much space behind him without legs next to him and our fullbacks don’t give us the width Pogba craves to switch the ball and which give him time as the lower quality opposition spreads their two lines of five. This is a letter for another day though as it would turn the thing into an essay, but I am just glad to see Ole staying at the wheel.
Megan (Cavani nicked my hairband) Manchester


Man United have a hand in one title race at least

Well thanks a lot Man Utd, you’ve dented the confidence of the early Bundesliga leaders, now Bayern are sure to waltz to another title. I mean, they would have anyway in due time, but at least I would have been able to dream for a little longer, mmmmm. I’m not an avid Bundesliga follower, but I take interest in foreign leagues more if there’s actual competition to your runaway PSG’s, Real or Barca’s, or, erm, Maribor’s…
David (Don’t tell me Dortmund, don’t give me hope…), Dublin


Note to Frank

If you have a German in your team Frank, let him take the penalties.
Schlomo Jenkins


Chelsea full-time thoughts

* Pretty poor for 70 mins, Frank made the right changes, would probably be 10 minutes too late against a better opposition.

* Excellent last 20 minutes.

* Second pen was an absolutely dreadful decision but not surprised when we keep seeing these refs from poor leagues get these games. Some very questionable decisions throughout the game.

* Mendy already looking like a bargain in terms of the solidity he brings to the back line, both in shot stopping and presence at set pieces/crosses.

* Jorginho has too many of these games where he offers nothing in defence and little in attack. Too often exposes the back line and also terrified of playing forward. This in turn affects Kovacic and doesn’t allow him to play to the level he is capable of.

* Havertz, you can tell there is enormous talent there, seems a few moves ahead plenty of the time, slowly reaching the same wavelength as his teammates. Needs to up the intensity out of possession as he is one of those that looks a lazy player, despite not necessarily being one.
Ziyech will be some player for us.

* Mount brings incredible energy and along with Pulisic, changed the game.

* 4-3-3 with Havertz and Mount in CM, Pulisic/Ziyech wide, need to see this again, could definitely be the formation that “finds the balance” combining energy in defence and bravery in attack.

* Jorginho to be demoted from penalty duty?

* Wins a win, yet another clean sheet, Frank earning the win with his tactics, happy days,
Adam, Midlands


…An early Champions League kick off still feels surreal but I shall not complain, whenever your side heads to Russia we seem to assume it’ll be a tough away trip, well the first half certainly wasn’t easy what so ever.

First up Jorginho misses a penalty, oh boy, his second penalty miss of the season and being honest his technique when it works is great, but when it doesn’t, it’s just dreadful, I’d much rather have a player put their laces through a penalty than do a hop skip jump technique, thankfully Hudson-Odoi puts his 1-0 up before the whistle with a fortunate goal but they all count the same.

Second half wasn’t to bad, the score line does flatter us but let’s not pretend the substitutions didn’t change the game, Pulisic was incredible and I like many are so glad he is back from injury, Hakim Ziyech was fantastic and deserved his MOTM award, oh and that Timo Werner penalty is how I like to see my penalties taken, ooooft!

3 clean sheets in a row, it’s a strange sight to see as a Chelsea fan, but Edouard Mendy has brought calmness with a side order of confidence with his addition to the side, fantastic night overall.
Mikey, CFC


Big clubs can bugger off

Well, that was a timely email from Quarantino Asprilla, wasn’t it? So Barca are finished, run like clowns, bad transfers, Koeman doesn’t know what he’s doing…. So where does that leave Juventus, soundly beaten 2-0 at home by said Barca? Yes, that Juve who has won eight titles in a row. Next time, mate.

Anyway, this result, coupled with the funny results we see in our EPL these days, the dodgy vibe around MU, Chelsea and Arsenal, that made me think. PSG are shite, Barca and Real have tough times in the Liga, Bayern aren’t even top (!) and they already at GW 5 in the Bundesliga.. Does that mean John Nicholson is wrong to say that the top clubs are now more powerful than ever? I followed his link to the Miguel Delaney article in the Indie, and it makes for grim reading. Johnny’s answer is that we let the top 6 bugger off to whatever Euro league they want to take part, and get on with a proper English Premier League with 20 clubs that actually want to be in it.

And I am thinking that he is right, but not for the reasons he has. Right now, in the EPL, we see what life is when those clubs aren’t having their own way all the time. We have clubs like Leeds, Villa, Everton and Leicester mixing it up with the big boys, and it feels good. So do we want the big boys back? Actually, we don’t. It’s better when anyone can make a proper challenge. And now, below the big 6, we have a situation where lots of clubs have similar financial means. From Everton down to Brighton and Burnley, the budgets are more or less on a par, the variations being less than the gap between the poorest of the top 6 (probably Arsenal) and the rest.

So I find myself agreeing with Johnny. The top 6 can offski, not because they’re rich, but because we don’t need them and that will stop the insufferable whingeing and self-centredness (new word) of their fans. I think we can all agree we are sick of Liverpool, MU, Chelsea, Arse and Spurs (City have no fans) whiny “look-at-me” fan voices, so it would be a fantastic bonus to move them on their Euro league forums where we can all ignore them.
Mike, Oxford United

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