The most successful club in the English Premier League, boasting the largest (club owned) stadium in the country. A club that had demonstrated itself to be leading both in the country as well as competing favourably with the big guns from the continent. This is a club that has a rich history of developing great footballers, who have performed on the highest stages in the game, boasting the record number of Ballon d’Or winners in the Premiership. I mean, what else can you say of Manchester United?
Except that the wheels came off the bus. All of a sudden, this same club was struggling. They had managed only seven wins in seventeen games, that is closer to relegation form as to the form of a club used to challenging for honours. In public and private, you could see that all was not well within the club. What is the solution? Throw more money at the problem or find a good psychologist to get into the heads of these players?
The club took the (at the time) strange decision of replacing a serial winner, a coach who (regardless of what you think of his style) had shown himself capable of gathering trophies. They replaced him with a novice (in comparison), with a coach who had not showcased his talent on such a grand scale. It seemed like a decision that will come back and haunt the chairman, I for sure wouldn’t have wanted to be in his shoes if that choice backfired.
The wisdom though in their choice is that they went for a coach with a story. And now, not just any odd story – a coach who was part of the Man U story. The baby-faced assassin as he was known scored the winning goal against Bayern Munich to win the treble for Man U. He held the record for the most goals scored from the substitute bench by the time he retired. Just the sight of him warming up on the sidelines was enough to get the fans cheering regardless of the score at that point. He had worked with one of the greatest managers the club (and arguably the English league) has ever known. You could even say he cushioned the blow of losing Cantona who retired at the end of his first season and that is saying a lot.
I can just imagine him coming into the team on the first day, well of course there will be a bit of “hero-worship”. But even beyond the respect he would have earned by virtue of what he accomplished, he would have to (re)infuse the team with the winning spirit which they had created under Sir Alex. Just sharing the stories of how they created such a “never say die” approach – I mean everybody knew that if Man U is losing, the last 15 minutes will feel like the longest siege you can even dream of. The best part is he not only inspired these players, but he also got them feeling happy again
It came as not much surprise when the club surged up the table. From being the laughingstock of the league to the form team, from being written off to play in Europe next season (no, not because of Brexit) to pushing for the third spot and automatic champions league qualification. Simply put, if the season started after he took over, Man U will be champions for sure.
Is Ole Gunnar Solskjær a better coach than Jose Mourinho? Well, judging by the results, you would be inclined to say yes obviously. Yes, I know people will argue that Mourinho has won several trophies as a coach, I will put that out there before you start throwing it up. One thing is certain though, baby face sure has a great story and is currently building a greater one.
There you have it – when you need to re-invigorate your team, when you need to move them up the table. Just change the coach – or better yet introduce a good story which they can relate to and inspire them to greatness.