Solskjaer is a tactical genius and roaring success after all…

Date published: Wednesday 21st October 2020 9:38

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is a tactical genius. That’s the theme of this mailbox, which is a collection of mails from readers. Send more thoughts to


Screw you Football365

Seems that Ole has just masterminded a very deserved win away against last season’s finalists when most commentators had written United off entirely. Not bad for someone you described last week as the worst manager in the PL.

Also Lindelof looked very solid tonight. Again not too bad for someone who you described a few weeks ago as being inadequate and not in the top 24 CBs in the PL.

Ultimately Ole might not be the right man to win the league with United but all things considered the criticism he has faced, not least from this site has been outrageous and way over the top. He’s done a decent job so far and got United back to playing good football. Again not bad for the worst manager in the league according to F365. Your strange little campaign against him just gets more ridiculous the more games he manages.
Ser Davos, The Onion Knight


…Wanted to get a word in, a slow applause in fact, for the editorial decision at f365 to publish an article that disparaged Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on the basis of him not even being a coach as good as Roy Hodgson when they lost to Palace on the first day of the season. Uncle Woy was “a far, far, better coach” it said…well done all round, truly. Hope those clicks were worth it. Feel free to plug in the article again here.

The poor man’s Hodgson has masterminded wins over Tuchel, Mourinho, Pep (thrice last season), Pochettino, Lampard (thrice again). He was the only one to get a result against Klopp last season BEFORE the title win had become a formality. But wait, he has yet to get a result against Arteta, which surely has to be the holy grail of coaching, so we will just have to wait and see!!

My guess is that seeing the upcoming fixture list and the fatigue induced listlessness of this United side in the first 3 (THREE) games made you gamble on that editorial line. It also happened to induce an amnesia with regard to an eight-month long (with the breaks) league unbeaten run and most points per game since the end of January compared to any other team in the league. All of it was neatly packaged as the ‘Bruno Fernandes effect’. Your thought process likely was that a stream of bad results are coming and its better to get the punches in early to ensure an already doomed man is sent packing for sure. The clicks from angry United fans will just be an added bonus.

But here is the thing. OGS has some things those reputed coaches that followed SAF did not have. Cojones, a connection with the club, and a long term vision that does not shake in the face of short term setbacks. He is showing this for the third time now in his short tenure and the journey from what we were to what we have become is nothing but impressive. He has done this with piss poor recruitment, a moron as his boss and without a structure that is considered essential to win. He might not be the one that ends our title wait, he might regress even. But to dismiss what he has achieved in 2.5 years as anything but a success is flat out bullshit.
Zee (avid reader for 13 years, I miss the time when you didn’t take yourself this seriously)


Not happy with underdog narrative

‘Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is clearly far better suited to being the underdog. When nothing is expected, when absences limit his options, he enjoys his finest moments as a manager. When United clearly have the better individual players, they often look like they are lacking tactics more complicated than being better individual players…’ Sarah Winterburn, F365. October 20. Henceforth known as ‘the Narrative’.

Considering the time since project restart, United have played 22 games. Six of them have been against teams United would not have gone in expecting to win easily, namely PSG, Spurs (twice), Seville, Leicester, and Chelsea. Of these United have won 2, lost 3 and drawn 1. Not quite the great underdogs, it seems.

(Seriously, if you think Man United were underdogs against Spurs and Leicester or even Sevilla… – Ed)

In the remaining 16 games, against ‘beatable’ opposition, Solskjaer’s United won 12 of them, scoring 34 goals, and conceding 7. Many of these were against teams known for defending deep – Sheffield United, Newcastle, and Brighton among them. Two were drawn (West Ham, Southampton), and two were lost (Villa and Palace). Pesky facts 1, Narrative 0.

Yes, there was a time (pre Bruno) when United struggled against the weaker teams. But he’s been around since January this year. Isn’t it time we dusted off that narrative and gave it an update?

PS: Rashford won a penalty, got a goal, two assists, and an MBE, and STILL didn’t make it to the winners list last weekend. I guess we’ll just have to wait for him to win the Nobel Prize.
Ved Sen, MUFC


That was a tactical masterclass from Ole

I’m so proud of the lads and Ole. Ole rarely gets any tactical credit what with the man-marking job F365 are doing on him these days (at least they did say he has fixed some problems) still I personally think he is tactically very capable as seen by his big game matches. Brilliant just brilliant.
Simba ( Stability for me Clive)


…Well well well who saw that coming. A few of my conclusions if I may.

1. Ole gets a lot of stick for being tactically inept but I‘ve always thought the people that say that were full of shit. Apart from the League Cup semi where Pep played a team of midfielders he’s generally done well. I personally feel it was always the players fault I.e. individual mistakes (I’m thinking De Gea, Lindelof, Maguire etc) tonight the tactics were spot on.

2. The defending was brilliant. They hardly gave the feared PSG attack a sniff of goal. Special mention to Aaron Wan-Bisaka some of them tackles were out of this world. Our very own daddy long legs.

3. We looked deadly on the counter attack. I was on the edge of my seat the whole match. Should’ve scored a few more had it not been for Rashford’s wastefulness. At times they looked like a herd of zebras running for their lives they were that quick, except PSG were the prey.

4. Playing Shaw and Telles on the left flank was a master stroke. They were both solid defending and decent going forwards. PSG got nothing on that side of the pitch.

5. Fred gives me a heart attack. How many times did Neymar skin him with a bit of cheeky skill? Also he almost lost the ball in dangerous positions a few times.

6. Can’t believe Fernandes missed another penalty but thank the lord we got to retake it for the keepers encroachment. I felt hard done by v palace when Dave finally saves one but I guess these things really do even themselves out.

7. Not sure if PSG got lucky with their goal or maybe Martial should’ve done better. I’ll let you decide.

All in all a good night. Three points in the bag so I’m a happy chappy.
Imran, Manchester


…First-time writer, long-time reader. My ego can’t handle another bad ManYoo season AND not being published in the Mailbox.

A few thoughts on tonight’s Man Utd vs PSG game.

1. I think most United fans agree that OGS is not SAF or close to the best coach in the world. He is what we have and he has some redeeming qualities that has bought him more time than what predecessors got.

2. OGS set up the team well initially and the first half was okay. PSG came out strong in the second half and scored quickly. OGS changes shape by switching Telles for Pogba and we’re back in the game. OGS’ tactics often get criticised. Tonight he set up well and then adapted even better.

3. Fred and McTominay had good games tonight. Add Donny who I hope is being held back a little to settle in and now more than ever Pogba seems like an unnecessary indulgence and luxury.

4. Considering we didn’t get Sancho/the RW we needed, we will likely see more of the 3-5-2 we got tonight. Switching back to 4-3-3 or a diamond depending on opposition or personnel available. I’m okay with that. If AWB can add some attacking quality and if Telles settles well, we have enough width to play more narrowly in midfield and upfront, negating the total snafu of not signing our first choice RW.

5. TUANZEBE! I know he has had chances before and can’t stay fit. Had a good game tonight and has so much pace. Hairy Maguire (what my 9yo old calls him) isn’t my first choice, but with pace beside him, it is a workable partnership. I do hope Tuanzebe steps up in the coming weeks.
Adii (GGMU), Cape Town


Really good signs from Man United

Credit where it’s due to Ole, that was a brilliant performance. Fred combined the breaking up play of prime Makelele with the close footwork and control of Mousa Dembele. Man of the match for me.

He was closely followed by AWB and Axel Tuanzebe. I genuinely don’t remember a full-back so confident and consistent in slide tackling as Wan Bissaka. It’s mesmerising at times. I shudder to think how Maguire would have coped in a one-on-one situation with Mbappe- Tuanzabe’s recovery pace is frightening. Perhaps United have unearthed the “missing link” in defence after all. Lindelof in turn looked a lot more composed in a back three.

Encouraging debut from Telles as well, although I thought Fernandes was quite wasteful in his decision making at times. Rashford was a bit “rash” (no pun intended) in the final third too, but more than made up for it with his hell-strike for the goal. Even Pogba played with a purpose when he came on!

One mitigating factor though: PSG were down a few players due to injury. That has to be considered, especially since Liverpool have one serious injury to a key player (for the first time in a few seasons), and it’s apparently the worst thing to have happened in 2020.
Brian, Wexford


Europe suits them

United played well. I think this team is well suited to playing in Europe.

Shame they only get to have a go every other year now.
Andy (MUFC)


Lads, it’s PSG

What a performance! Man of the match for me: Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz. Having gotten used to the premier league and their issues, this was such a refreshing game to watch. This game of football was all about how the referee let the game flow, no messing about with either side whining for free kicks and no VAR reviews over and over again. The penalty checks were quick, efficient, game moves on. The only thing he missed during the game was pointing to the spot for the penalty!

As for the game itself, PSG were poor. They should be thanking their lucky stars that it was only Manchester United. If this was Aston Villa, we would be looking at another 7-2 scoreline. United were organized and looked comfortable most of the time. Not surprising though as Solskjaer has built his team around counterattacking and I am sure he would rather be playing expansive teams like PSG than teams like Brighton. Telles looks the real deal going forward but we will find out how good he is with his defensive duties. Axel Tuanzabe just seems to have ended Bailly’s United career as he will be dropping to fourth choice now.

Lastly, it’s that man Fernandes again. You only have to look at him at the end of the game to see the passion he has for the team and the game. His first win as United captain and you could tell what it meant to him. Ed, please don’t sell him. Thanks.
Hassan (finally figured out the right position for Pogba : Sub)

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