Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has to do what Jose Mourinho and Louis van Gaal couldn’t at Manchester United – Tyrone Marshall
The short-term approach at Manchester United compelled Jose Mourinho and Louis van Gaal to focus on the here and now. They were experienced coaches and serial title winners bought in to immediately restore success to the club.
While one failed, the other succeeded, briefly, before Mourinho’s spectacular implosion at the start of this season. All United’s two previous managers could do was hold back the tide, to briefly stop the bleeding. But there would be no quick fix to the problems at Old Trafford.
Six years of short-term thinking have now left United further adrift of their Premier League title rivals than at any point since Sir Alex Ferguson retired. There is no easy solution this mess.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has realised that. He’s warned a title challenge next term would be a ‘miracle’. This rebuild is going to take time.
The Norwegian should make this summer United’s Year Zero. So much time has been wasted since Ferguson’s retirement in 2013 that it’s time to press the reset button, even if that means another difficult season ahead. Take a step back to take several steps forward further down the line.
As the momentum of Solskjaer‘s first three months in charge stalled towards the end of the season, he became more vocal in questioning the players. After suggesting some needed a “reality check”, he then questioned the commitment of some players following the humiliating 4-0 defeat to Everton at Goodison Park.
Solskjaer has also said wholesale changes this summer are unlikely, that it has to be taken step-by-step, but the catastrophic collapse at the end of the season, hitting a new low with the final day defeat to Cardiff City, should dissuade him of that notion.
Speaking to the United App this week, he said he’d learnt about his players in the final weeks of the season and a run that yielded just two wins from their final 12 games.
“You learn a lot when you go through tough times and think about who can we build this team around, and who we think is going to take the next step because we need to go to the next level,” Solskjaer said.
The only way United can reach the next level is by ripping this squad open. Minor adjustments window by window are no longer going to work.
Solskjaer has hinted at the players in his squad who don’t have the attitude or the application to take United forward. He needs to be ruthless in casting them aside this summer, even if it means padding next season’s squad out with youngsters.
The former United striker knows it will take time to rebuild United, and that to sell a string of players might be seen as a risk, but it’s one he has to take. Departing midfielder Ander Herrera said Solskjaer has a “tough job ahead”, and he’s right about that, but he backed him to achieve it if given the time.
Even if Solskjaer rings the changes this summer and isn’t given the time to see the job through, he will still be remembered as the manager who began the clean up at Old Trafford, who set the wheels in motion to usher in a new era.