By Nathan King, UWS News
It was only (insert name of small Premier League here) they said. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer passed his “first test” as Manchester United manager yesterday evening, with a 1-0 win over Spurs, and the favourite to get the job instead of him Mauricio Pochettino.
Thanks to a masterclass from David De Gea and a fantastic counter-attack by Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford, Solskjaer may have just put a small doubt into the minds of the Manchester United board regarding their consideration of giving Pochettino the job.
Poch got his game plan right
Pochettino deserves a lot of credit. Up until the injury to Moussa Sissoko, his game plan to stop the service into Marcus Rashford worked perfectly. Sissoko pressed Pogba wonderfully, nullifying him and reducing his time to pick out a pass.
On the other hand, Pochettino didn’t react straightaway to the injury suffered by the Frenchman. Had he changed the shape straightaway rather than waiting till half-time, then the goal could have been prevented. Pochettino substituted on Erik Lamela for the injured Sissoko, meaning that Christian Eriksen was shifting out to the right of the three in the diamond of the Spurs midfield.
The goal came from a mistake down the right from Kieran Trippier, who attempts to loft a ball into Eriksen into the righthand channel. Trippier’s pass was weak and instead intercepted by Paul Pogba. Eriksen leaves Pogba too early and therefore Tripper has to try and close down the Frenchman, leaving him space to pick out the ball to Rashford.
In fairness to Pochettino, he recognised the issue and at the start of the 2nd half, Spurs switched to a 4-2-3-1 with Eriksen playing a deeper role alongside Harry Winks, with clear instructions to hold a play from deep which resulted in Spurs completely dominating the 2nd half in terms of possession and chances created. Spurs just couldn’t find the back of the net, which is no fault of the Argentine’s
Who do the fans want?
It’s safe to say that United fans are divided in opinion on everything. From views on individual players to past managers and the current owners. One thing that is safe to say is that a large majority are caught in the romance of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Simon Hanson, a member of a closed United supporters group on Facebook had this to say:
“It’s still too early to ask any questions of Ole. Even if Tottenham turned us over, I still don’t think people would have been asking them. It’s a work in progress and he’s done well in his first few games.
“We need to give him longer than a month to judge his results though. We’ve had a lot of games in a short space of time”.
From fan reaction at games, it’s clear to see that the affection for the Norweigan is strong and rightly so, considering the mood change his persona has brought to United fans.
Solskjaer is showing the right signs to be considered permanently
Unlike Pochettino, Solskjaer was reactionary. As soon as Spurs subbed on Fernando Llorente, the Norwegian opted to bring on Diogo Dalot as a second right-back in order to double up and stop the crosses, therefore eliminating Llorente’s aerial threat.
In all of Solskjaer’s six games in charge, United have played without fear, especially in terms of making mistakes. Phil Jones and Victor Lindelof look more confident in themselves as defenders, which in turn has improved the form of David De Gea. Thankfully so in Manchester United’s case.
No one is saying that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is a better manager than Jose Mourinho or Mauricio Pochettino, but he might be the right type of manager for the current squad of Manchester United players. Of course, the question around Pochettino has always been the fact he hasn’t won anything. However, the last two managers of Manchester United (Louis Van Gaal and Jose Mourinho) won everything there is to win so it wouldn’t hurt United to go for someone who hasn’t.
Whether it’s Ole or Poch remains to be seen.