Has Ole Gunnar Solskjaer been successful at Manchester United? That is a question which will haunt even the Norwegian himself after defeat in the Europa League final.
In strict terms of silverware, then no. Solskjaer has no trophies to show off in his time as Manchester United manager so far.
As far as getting United back on track and giving the club a proper direction for the future, Solskjaer is doing exactly that.
Solskjaer has done what no Manchester United manager has been able to do since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, achieve consecutive top four finishes.
David Moyes could not even manage one, while neither Louis van Gaal or Jose Mourinho could follow up a top four placing. Mourinho’s attempt at doing so was so disastrous in 2018/19 that he was fired with United closer in terms of points to the relegation zone than first place.
Solskjaer has done an impressive job of getting United back on track, with a third placed finish in 2019/20 and second place in 2020/21.
Now United are seeing the fruits of this
United are now benefitting from Solskjaer’s rebuild of the club from top to bottom, with an improved and thriving academy to a first team strong which looks stronger than any since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement.
A double deal for Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane is exactly what United wanted. Sancho’s deal is done pending final announcement [BBC] and Spanish newspaper AS report Varane is likely to head to Old Trafford.
These are two top class players who will transform United’s attack and defence.
Without the combination of Champions League football and a clear direction, its very possible neither deal would be feasible.
Varane reportedly wants a new challenge and United can give him everything he wants. It is a deal which suits everybody, from United, to Varane, Harry Maguire, to even Real Madrid, who will get a decent price for a player with one year remaining on his contract.
Sancho had plenty of options. The Mirror speculated a year ago that Real Madrid and Barcelona were keen, while Bild suggested Liverpool wanted him as a successor for Mo Salah. A report from the Sunday World claimed Chelsea were keen.
Sancho’s desire to join United kicked all of that to one side. He only wanted to move to Old Trafford. That may not have been possible if United were still floundering by finishing in fifth of sixth position.
Varane and Sancho are signing up for a title battle, and while it is a big ask for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to topple the riches of Pep Guardiola’s City, United are in position to give it a real good go this season.
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