Friday, December 2, 2022

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer repeating what Jose Mourinho did with the Glazers at Manchester United.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer repeating what Jose Mourinho did with the Glazers at Manchester United.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was in a tough spot when Manchester United fans’ anti-Glazer demonstrations were at their most vociferous last season.

As rumors about possible demonstrations outside Old Trafford were rolling around ahead of United’s planned home game against Liverpool, Solskjaer hit all the right notes when he approved supporters’ rights to protest peacefully.

He did the right thing in meeting a group of fans who had assailed United’s Carrington training ground, using his trademark charisma to chat matters through with them. He came across as honest and also understanding about the fans’ interests. He was an outspoken basher of the European Super League proposals.

But Solskjaer could not approve the violent elements of the demonstrations that did occur by Old Trafford and United’s team hotel on the day of the (scheduled) Liverpool game.

Some fans thought, and still believe, that the Norwegian was defending the Glazer family when he was decisive of the way the protests unfolded. Some blamed him of being an apologist for the loathed American owners.

Yet all of the manager’s public statements about the summer transfer window — which is about to open — and the need for United to grow their squad would suggest he is settling his own form of pressure on the owners.

The dust had just settled on United’s agonizing Europa League final loss to Villarreal when Solskjaer openly voiced his plan to sign three first-team players this summer. His wish to develop on a growing but not perfect season at Old Trafford was open for all to see. Not falling for mediocrity or sleeping on his laurels.

He said:
“We are here now, we need to do better, we need to work better, work harder, cleverer. But as I said two or three players to strengthen the starting XI and the squad all together is important for us to go even further.

“Because I’m sure our contenders or challengers will also want to improve and we want to improve as much as we can.”


Solskjaer no reservation has in his mind the summer of 2018 when United were in a comparable position under Jose Mourinho but allowed themselves to sail and go backward after a second-place finish in the Premier League.

It was well documented that summer Mourinho required to sign a center-back, amid concern from United in Harry Maguire, Diego Godin, and Toby Alderweireld. But Ed Woodward and the Glazers declined to release funds, United spent less than £70million on just two players (Fred and Diogo Dalot) and slid to a calamitous start to the 2018/19 season. Mourinho was on his bike by Christmas. United ended sixth.

So it’s little wonder Solskjaer is raising the ante, reemphasizing his desire to see United do the entire best transfer business they can this summer.

He doubled down on his message to the Glazers in a more recent conference with Norwegian media this week.

“We want the best players here, and the club knows what I want,” said Solskjaer. “I do not know how the dialogue goes, but if we are to fight for the best trophies, we must have the best players.”

It’s no puzzle that Solskjaer wanted Jadon Sancho last summer, and with United reprising their concern in the Borussia Dortmund right-winger after failing badly to sign him a year ago, they cannot afford to miss out a second time.

Solskjaer would also like a center-back to partner Harry Maguire, which feels like ominously natural ground to the condition that tripped up Mourinho three years ago.

He’s doing everything he can to warrant the same errors aren’t made at Old Trafford.

With United supporters continuing to keep the pressure on the Glazers, lately quizzing co-chairman Joel Glazer at a productive fans’ forum meeting, this summer should be different to 2018.

Time will tell. But Solskjaer may demonstrate to be the unpropitious fall person if history replicates itself.

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer repeating what Jose Mourinho did with the Glazers at Manchester United.