Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can't be trusted
Background photo: Bernard Randall, CC BY-SA 3.0
You’re probably expecting to read [or troll] an article arguing that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer doesn’t deserve to be appointed permanent Manchester United manager because he lost two matches in a row. If that’s the case, I apologise for luring you here under false pretences.
I do understand the thought process. After successive defeats, it’s perfectly natural to worry the honeymoon’s over, word’s out, the book is written on how to beat the Norwegian. The man himself admitted his team put in the worst collective shift since his arrival.
It was the poorest performance we've had. We never had the urgency and the quality on the ball. The tempo on the ball wasn't high enough. Not enough quality. It's a big step backwards, I've got to say. It's the poorest performance since I've come here. It's very disappointing that we're not in the semis. We got what we deserved.
It’s also natural to question his tactics and substitutions. You don’t anticipate Scott McTominay’s insertion rather than the more creative Fred when already a goal down. What to think, then? The answer may lie in the knowledge a baby face is not only the perfect disguise for an assassin but also a manager who wants the press to dance to his tune rather than the other way around.
What I’m saying is that behind that boyishly innocent face, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is not an honest man. No manager can afford that luxury. Ask Mauricio Pochettino if you don’t believe me.
Duplicity runs rampant in football. During the buildup to the Molineux match, Gary Neville commented that Liverpool should tank the Champions League all the better to nick the Premier League title from quadruple-chasing Manchester City. He then recommended United do likewise in the FA Cup to focus on qualifying for the Champions League.
If you think I’m handy with the clickbait, GNev is a past master. Forget that the Champions League is not a trinket to be passed up in the same manner that significantly lesser rewards render the FA Cup. He knows half his audience believes big clubs are honour-bound to compete legitimately on all fronts and the other half live in the real world. Most impressively, he wove his widely cast net into a sly dig at new besty, Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher.
Naturally, a reporter asked Ole’s opinion on Neville’s provocative statement. Cognizant that United fans expect their club to win every match in dominant, buccaneering fashion, he disagreed.
Momentum. The more games you win, the more confidence you breed, the more hunger there is in the players. Every single game that you win puts another layer on that, on the way to becoming the team that we want to be. So I don’t agree with Gary Neville when he says that teams should go out of this and this to focus on that.
If you follow politics as well as football, you're aware stirring words make the most convincing lies.
The God’s honest? Every top-six side fights on multiple fronts. United is far and away the most beset by injury. City went to the Liberty Stadium with issues at the back and escaped because the FA came without VAR. Solskjaer's problems run up and down the roster. Alexis Sanchez, Romelu Lukaku and Phil Jones are on the treatment table. Ashley Young was suspended. Nemanja Matic, Jesse Lingard, Ander Herrera and Anthony Martial needed game time after recovering from their assorted maladies. Marcus Rashford’s been carrying a knock since the Paris Saint-Germain first leg. Meanwhile, Paul Pogba, Luke Shaw, Victor Lindelof and Chris Smalling haven’t been rested. The manager named a side in which much of the squad wasn’t match fit and the rest were overworked. He expected better application from his group but the loss itself is something he can live with.
You can't sit and sulk too long. International breaks sometimes come in handy. Hopefully, some [players] will have good experiences with the national teams and some will have a few days off. We'll be ready to push again. We're in a great position in the league. We’ve got the Champions League. We've got so much to play for.
If you read between the lines, it’s obvious Ole Gunnar Solskjaer lives in the real world.