It has been a turbulent few years for Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjær since he replaced José Mourinho in the Old Trafford hot-seat back in January 2019. It’s no secret that the Norwegian has almost lost his job on multiple occasions, with fans pleading with the Glazers and Ed Woodward to replace him with Mauricio Pochettino time and again.
In fact, even earlier this season the club’s owner and now former chairman — who are both feeling the heat in the aftermath of the controversial European Super League — were put under increased pressure to dismiss Solskjær from his role.
The United fans were left seething when the side crashed out of the Champions League in the group stage, but again the club’s chiefs stuck by the former Red Devils forward and six months on, it looks like they made the right decision — as much as Old Trafford faithful would hate to admit it.
Unless something drastic happens over the course of the next few weeks, Manchester United look all but certain to secure second place in the Premier League table, which would be their best league finish since Mourinho guided them to the same spot in 2017-18 — a feat the Portuguese gaffer later described as the best achievement of his career.
However, Solskjær’s side have pushed their noisy neighbors Manchester City further than Mourinho’s men did three years ago, and the gap looks like it will be much smaller than the 19 points which separated United from Pep Guardiola’s side that season.
That aside, with a thrilling 8-5 aggregate win over Italian side Roma, who Mourinho will take charge of this summer, United have booked their place in the Europa League final — their first under Solskjær’s reign — and they are the massive favorites in the Europa League odds to beat Villarreal in Gdańsk, Poland later this month.
However, whilst winning Europe’s secondary club competition and finishing second in the league is a good sign that the club is finally starting to progress under Solskjær’s management, it is still well below the standards set by Manchester United, and, with the congested schedule over the coming weeks, there is still a chance their season could come crumbling down.
Solskjær has made it clear that he is unhappy with Manchester United’s busy schedule, which will see them play six more times between now and the Europa League final on May 26th. But, if he can keep up the good results, secure the cup and second place, he’ll finally silence some doubters.
It would be a good base for Solskjær to build on next season and given how they performed in the second half of this campaign, expectations will certainly be high. United are a club that should be competing in the latter stages of the Champions League and hotly contesting a fierce title race, not a side settling for a Europa League title and second — possibly double figures behind their cross-city rivals.
Therefore, whilst Solskjær is starting to prove he is the right man for the job, his next task is to get United back to the dizzy heights they were used to under Sir Alex Ferguson. There’s finally hope for United fans, but Solskjær must deliver.