Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is considered by his many supporters to be moving Manchester United in the right direction.
This is yet to translate into a trophy, with United falling short at the quarter-final stage in the FA Cup, and semis of the Carabao Cup.
A Europa League quarter-final awaits against Granada next month, as United’s sole route to silverware.
There is steady progression in the league, but for many, this is not enough.
On the basis that Solskjaer did not get any of his first choice transfer targets last summer, and none of his signings have tangibly improved the first XI, he is doing pretty well to have the team in second place. His achievement in this regard is not getting enough credit or respect.
Except from United managing director Richard Arnold, who went way too far and over-egged Solskjaer’s impact in a way which showed how out of touch the board are with supporters.
Speaking to the Associated Press after United’s sponsorship deal with TeamViewer was announced, Arnold made his comments.
He said: “Ole is the ultimate exemplar of … someone in Manchester United who has tremendous character, is incredibly well connected with the culture and history of the club.
“No one in the world is happier than me with the phenomenal success he is bringing.
“When you’re inside (the club) and you are seeing the work of the man and the character, it just makes you so happy. He deserves to succeed, and he is, and that makes me very happy.”
Even Solskjaer’s biggest supporters outside the club would surely agree that ‘phenomenal success’ is simply too much, when discussing the manager’s reign so far.
Solskjaer does not have a single trophy to his name at the club, and while he is looking like becoming the first manager to achieve back-to-back Champions League qualifications since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, this really should be the minimum expectation. There’s nothing ‘phenomenal’ about it.
The shine of Champions League qualification last season was taken away by a subsequent group stage exit.
The comments from Arnold were a mis-step, and emblematic of a club which places record TikTok sign ups among the ‘key points’ in the club’s recent financial report.
Solskjaer might be on his way to success, and he has placed the club in a more stable position than when he signed. But he is not there yet.
The concern here, is that the board are so invested in Solskjaer, that if he goes another two, three years without a trophy, they won’t be bold enough to make a change.
A new contract seems inevitable, and many feel the Norwegian should get the chance to carry on what he has started, especially if he is properly backed in the transfer market.
But faith and time should not be unlimited. Another two, three years without a trophy and the demand for change will be insatiable. The fear is United’s board will not be able to see past a top four finish, and live for it, like Arsenal once did.
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