The pressure is on Ole for a trophy, especially after the spend they have made during the pre-season. Is the timer running out? Is the pressure for a trophy going to make or break him this season?
Let us rewind first….Alex Ferguson joined as manager of United in 1986 and his team domnated the English league for most of his time in charge of the club, especially so between the years of 1993 and 2013. During this time the club managed to win 38 trophies in total made up in part from 13 Premier League titles, five FA Cups, and two UEFA Champions League titles, a seriously impressive figure.
However since Ferguson departed Old Trafford back in 2013 things haven’t ever really been close to the same, the hand picked ‘long-term’ replacement David Moyes, signed a 6 year deal but lasted just a year in the role before being sacked whilst United were sitting seventh in the Premier League table.
Moyes was followed by Giggs who manned the fort until Louis Van Gaal was appointed in May 2014. After two indifferent seasons Van Gaal was replaced by the Special one in May 2016. Jose arrived with a great deal of hope and expectation from the United fans and started his tenure showing some promise after finishing his first season in charge having secured the UEFA Europa League, League Cup, and FA Community Shield.
The 2017-2018 campaign was one of ups and downs, no trophies were won after crashing out of the Champions League to Sevilla, losing to Chelsea in the FA cup final…tough pill for Mourinho to swallow and finishing in 2nd place behind rivals Man city (by 19 points). After a slow start to the 2018-2019 campaign and seeminly losing his special one status along the way, he was relieved of his managerial duty a week before Christmas.
The man who benefited from this decision the most was the super-sub himself, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Initially appointed as caretaker manager Man Utd were instantly a different team, gone was the stagnant dry boring approach to games and in was attacking football for the first time in what seemed like a long time. After averaging 2.46 points per league game, Ole was handed the reins full time in March 2019. Fast forward to the present day and Ole has just signed a 3 year extension to his original contract and is now tied to the club until at least 2024 (contractually speaking anyway).
Now the one thing that The Special One can still hold on to is that 4 years on his Manchester United side were the last team to secure a trophy, 2017 Europa League, a fact that I have no doubt brings great joy to Jose.
COVID-19 has of course impacted on so many things in everyday life and football has not avoided this disruption. The last 15 months of football without fans as well as players in and out of the team due to isolation rules and injuries caused by the lack of a real pre-season has made it difficult to really make any true judgements on teams performances. Man United finished last season in 2nd place behind their rivals City yet again…this time by 12 points, so why does there seem to be a slight buzz and optimisim now building around the United squad going into this season?
1) The fans are back and a full Old Trafford is an intimidating place to go for any team.
2) Ole seems to be building stability into the side and has rightly or wrongly been given time to come back for another season in pursuit of his first trophy.
3) The most obvious is the transfer window, they have had an extremely solid window so far and it will only keep improving with time.
The obvious transfer to talk about is Jadon Sancho. He has finally signed for Man United after what seems like a lifetime of the move being rumoured to take place. Sancho will offer United a true superstar and they will hope, enable others to enjoy more time and space as Sancho directs alot of the attention away from themselves. Can Sancho carry his form from Dortmund with him into the quicker and more competitive Premier League? We shall certainly see, but he is most definitely an improvement to the team and a move in the right direction. However for me, the two most important signings have been Varane, a solid CB partner for Maguire, who had a terrific Euro 2020 and the re-signing of Cavani.
The Centre half position has blighted United for a number of years and I can honestly see Maguire and Varane enjoying the same successful partnership the likes of Ferdinand and Vidic formed all them years ago now. In a similar form the number 9 position has also been a tricky position for United to fill over the past few years with nobody really staking a hold on the shirt. Cavani is a veteran in the footballing world now but he most certainly still knows where the back of the net is, not only that but he will thrive off of the quality service which Jadon Sancho is likely to now provide for him.
On paper the team is arguably the strongest it has looked for a number of years now which should enable Ole to finally secure a trophy or two for the club, which to many is now well overdue. The only issue he now has is that should he not secure any silverware this year after building such a strong squad, it may be his last shot as the manager at Old Trafford, and that really would make Jose smile again.