Any manager at Manchester United should be under pressure to deliver trophies, so the fact the immediate aim is to become Champions League regulars again shows how far the club has fallen in recent years.
However, as we know, your name and history counts for nothing in football, and it’s down to the club to employ the right players, managers and staff to build success.
And, since Sir Alex Ferguson’s decision to retire in 2013, United have got almost everything wrong on that front. Admittedly, there have been some decent signings in that period and Louis van Gaal, in particular, was prepared to give youth a chance. But on the whole, the club went from one disaster to the next.
Therefore, appointing Solskjær seemed like a needlessly risky move given his CV and results after he was named as the permanent boss suggested turning to the former player was the latest mistake from Ed Woodward and the owners.
However, there have been some really encouraging signs in the past six to 12 months that suggest the Red Devils could be back up close to the top two when it comes to the Premier League betting as they seek another title in the future.
Firstly, they will always be able to compete with anyone financially, which means bringing in marquee additions like Bruno Fernandes won’t be difficult given the pull of United.
Perhaps more importantly though, Solskjær is creating a culture at the club that will bring success. As he recently reiterated, it’s about finding the right characters to wear the famous shirt, not just the best technical players.
Of course, the ideal scenario is finding players who combine the two and that’s what the heavily criticised recruitment team have done in the past two windows. The arrival of Fernandes transformed the team, and at 25-years-old he will enter his peak at Old Trafford. The fact he has only picked up a few Portuguese cups in his career means he will have the desire to succeed.
Similarly, Harry Maguire fits the same sort of profile. Signed as a 26-year-old, he was another who had the hunger to prove himself at the top level, as well as the talent. In a matter of months, he justified the hefty transfer fee and is a leader for the club now.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) March 28, 2020
With Marcus Rashford starring week in, week out, Scott McTominay’s influence constantly increasing, and with the likes of Brandon Williams and Mason Greenwood regulars in the first-team picture, the tradition of bringing through local players and trusting youth is there too. This is an example of the long-term plan Solskjær has. He has spent the past year or so putting each piece into play, and the signs are positive.
That’s not to say everything is complete, as clearly more is needed to make the club the kings of England and then Europe again. But, after a relatively dismal period given their illustrious history, there is an excitement surrounding the club once more. If the same strides can be made in the next 12 months then Solskjær’s Manchester United could be back to where they feel they belong.
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