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Football Reporting

Champions League

Man Utd chiefs should follow Roman Abramovich example over backing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

When Claudio Ranieri was sacked as Chelsea manager in 2004 he’d led them to second in the league and to the last four of the Champions League.

To most owners that would’ve been an impressive year, so on the face of it his dismissal seemed harsh.

When you look at the cold hard facts however, it wasn’t.

Chelsea had big ambitions and Roman Abramovich’s millions wanted success immediately.

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He axed Ranieri because ultimately a better man for the job was out there. One Jose Mourinho.

He’d led Porto the the pinnacle of European football and the Russian billionaire had seen something he rather liked.

Three Premier League titles, an FA Cup, three League Cups, a fair amount of controversy,an iconic opening line and the rest is history.

Manchester United, take note.

Roman Abrmaovich ruthlessly axed Claudio Ranieri so he could hire Jose Mourinho
Roman Abrmaovich ruthlessly axed Claudio Ranieri so he could hire Jose Mourinho

Football is a cruel business, it long has been.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as a manager personifies everything United aim to stand for bar one thing – silverware.

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It might only be the one box left unticked, but its the box that stands out above all else.

The Norwegian plays attractive football, is keen to utilise the club’s academy, understands their traditions and scored possibly the most famous goal in their history.

After 27 months in charge, albeit some of it temporary, Solskjaer is poised for a new deal and a pay rise.

His work has been deemed sufficient enough for more time and more investment.

But since when did United deal in semi-finals? I grew up in an era where those at Old Trafford hoisted at least one trophy aloft per year.

Now its easy for you to say that Solskjaer is building something and, given time, may eventually take the Red Devils back to where they believe they belong.

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Recent history doesn’t suggest that though. Too often his United side have come up short in the big moments.

Man Utd have continued to fall short under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Man Utd have continued to fall short under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

They have enough quality that good performances and impressive wins are bound to happen on occasion. Be it wins in Paris or Manchester derby successes.

The bottom line though is does Solskjaer present United with the best chance to end a trophy drought that will soon hit four years?

I struggle to believe the answer to that is yes – and if so an act of ruthlessness may be required.

It may seem unethical because has Solskjaer’s work warranted the sack – probably not.

But are there available managers out there who would be deemed an upgrade on the Norwegian? The simple answer is yes.

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The Mauricio Pochettino ship has sailed – and some will have pointed to his lack of silverware as a problem had he been appointed.

Massimiliano Allegri though is readily available and has made a career out of winning trophies.

The Italian has been out of a job since leaving Juventus in 2019 and has been linked with the Old Trafford hot seat.

Massimiliano Allegri remains available
Massimiliano Allegri remains available

Now his appointment would not share the romance that came with Solskjaer’s arrival, but what are the club ultimately in this for?

United the brand has continued to soar while the club’s fortunes on the pitch stutter. That cannot continue forever, irrespective of Ed Woodward’s commercial genuis.

Jose Mourinho was far from loved during his period in Manchester, but he did deliver silverware.

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Few United fans – nor club officials – would aspire to recreate the feeling around Old Trafford at that point though.

But for how long can they continue to persevere with a man whose CV promises nothing when it comes to success.

Solskjaer has made forward steps, there is no doubt about that, and some of United’s chiefs appear determined to make their partnership a success.

Giving the Norwegian a new deal would only further their determination to make the project work, but potentially for the wrong reasons.

Ed Woodward is poised to give his manager a new deal
Ed Woodward is poised to give his manager a new deal

United have seen in the transfer market that they don’t have the draw they once did.

For managers that is not the case – they lured Mourinho without having Champions League football and captured Louis van Gaal without any European commitments.

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There is also the added sense of wanting to be the man who restored United to the success of yesteryear.

Whilst they continue to have that status they would be wise to utilise it and attract the biggest and best names out there.

When the season ends United may be at their best point under Solskjaer, but look how far they remain off the standard that is Manchester City.

If they have the nerve to make a decision, then this summer would be the ideal time to make a cold hearted decision with the club’s best interests at heart.

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