Love him or hate him, Ole Gunnar Solskjær often finds himself as the topic of conversation. His managerial journey has been certainly unorthodox. Rising from being a manager of Norweigan side, Modle, to leading Manchester United in only a matter of years. Despite his arguable lack of experience, Solskjær looks like he is here to stay. United recently announced that Ole received a three-year contract extension that’ll see him managing the Red Devils until at least 2024.
Ole’s main success has been restoring the style of play formerly belonging to United of old. United legends credit him for cleaning up the mess that the club was in when he took over in 2018. Since taking over for United, the Red Devils have improved on their previous position in the league table every season. However, progress has not brought trophies, yet. Many critics hang their hats on Ole’s record in semis and finals in cup competitions. United have only seen one final and lost to Villarreal CF.
The three-year contract extension should come as no surprise. The board finally closed the deal on his desired winger that he has been begging for in Jadon Sancho. With a new director of football, John Murtough’s, support of Ole, the extension felt somewhat inevitable. However, even if the writing was on the wall, we can still discuss whether the new deal was deserved. To determine just that, the following shows Ole’s performance season-by-season as United manager.
Ole – 2018/19 (Leauge 6th place, UCL quarterfinals, FA Cup 6th Round)
The season of 2018/19 is mainly remembered by THAT night in Paris. Other notable moments included the unbeaten run that Ole lead the club through and Paul Pogba hitting a remarkable run of form. United looked like a squad on fire after Ole took the reigns from Jose. However, the fire would die out after losing to Barcelona in a painful quarterfinal. Yet, it should be known that even though the statistics show a decent season for United, it started off awful. Sacking Jose halfway through the season was an opportunity for disaster. Ole came in clutch and his performance as care-taker led to his full-time appointment.
66 points for the season was by no means an awful mark. While it only amounted to sixth place in the league, United showed real poise by fitting in nicely with Ole after Jose was sacked. The team of 2018/19 didn’t really look like a Champions League side, to be honest. This probably explains a bit of why the win in Paris felt so monumental. Especially after the start of the season that the club endured.
It’s safe to that without Ole, the season would have been an absolute bust. The squad picked up momentum at times and felt like the boys were heading into the right director. Ole received some job security through his full-time appointment that felt like the best decision at the time. Personally, looking back it still feels like the right call to make him United’s full-time manager.
For all the clean-up work Solskjær did that season, it has to be an 8.5 out of 10. Champions League qualification or a trophy to show for the season would have been nice, but given where the club was when he took over, Ole overachieved.
Ole – 2019/20 (Leauge 3rd place, UEL Semis, FA Cup Semis)
Solskjær was rewarded for his efforts by his full-time appointment and a plethora of new signings. Most notably, Harry Maguire, Daniel James, and Aaron Wan-Bissaka joined the club. The squad started the season off on the right foot against Chelsea but would soon fall behind pace. The creative output was severely lacking in the side. The rumors of Ole leaving grew in his first season as a full-time manager.
The Red Devils sat right outside of Champions League qualification all season until they signed Bruno Fernandes in late January. After signing Bruno, Manchester United did not lose a single league match from the end of the season. Even with the pandemic creating project restart, the Red Devils kept their fantastic form.
Finishing third in the league came as a massive triumph. While it was not a trophy, qualifying for the Champions League was a massive milestone for Solskjær. United made three semi-finals that season but failed to progress to the final of any competition.
Given all the season’s ups and downs, it cannot be called a success. However, the squad looked revolutionized with Bruno Fernandes and ended the season on a high note. Solskjær gets a 6.5 out of 10 for the season. Some strong points and some weak points but Ole was only a final away from turning that season into a 8 out of 10.
Ole – 2020/21 (Leauge 2nd place, UEL Final, FA Cup Quaterfinal)
Given that Solskjær’s qualified for the Champions League, new signings felt imminent. However, the board balked at the target of the summer, Jadon Sancho. Bringing in Edi Cavani on a free was good business, yet Donny van de Beek and Facundo Pellisitri felt like panic buys. The surprise of the window was Alex Telles, who was expected to take Luke Shaw’s starting role when the opposite happened. Telle’s presence ignited Luke Shaw enough for him to win the Players’ Player of the Year Award for United.
On the pitch, the boys started off slow. The Reds finished third in the UCL group and hovered around midtable in the league. However, Ole’s system began to fit and United saw themselves as league leaders by January. After being first in the league for three match-weeks, United’s fine form dipped. Yet, they never dropped below second for the rest of the season.
The Red Devils missed out on making a final in both the League and FA Cup, failing in the semis and quarterfinals respectively. Their form hit its peak in the Europa League where they, at last, reached a cup final. Manchester United lost in a heart-crushing fashion in an 11-10 penalty shootout. David De Gea missed the deciding penalty.
Overall, a season that improved massively and showed off Ole’s tactical ability. The UEL loss hurt and finishing twelve points behind leaders City wasn’t great either. Still though some of the blame belongs to the board for missing out on crucial signings. Solskjær gets an 8 out of 10. Lots of hope.
Does he Deserve the Extension?
Ole showed massive improvement in his first three seasons with the Red Devils. Given that it looks like the new Director of Football believes in Ole’s system, the new contract should have come as no surprise. However, the pressure is now on. Ole finally got backed in the transfer window with Sancho and hopefully a new center-back. With those two new signings, Manchester United needs a trophy ASAP.
Ole gets the extension he feels that he deserved, but now it needs to earn his wages on the pitch.
GGMU. Written by CJ Szaz.