Could anyone have matched Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Manchester United?
By Joe Harker
Manchester United's interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has won his first six games in charge of the club, winning over fans and players in equal measure. The job he has done looks simple and obvious, replacing the dour and egotistical Jose Mourinho with a more upbeat style of management that has put smiles on faces and restored an emphasis on attacking football.
The things Solskjaer has done since taking over at Old Trafford seem obvious, though they weren't to David Moyes, Louis Van Gaal or Mourinho. How hard is it to say nice things about your players and tell them to attack?
Paul Ince thinks the praise for Solskjaer has gone overboard, claiming that "anyone could have gone in and done what he has done", suggesting people such as himself or Steve Bruce would also have done well. Arguing that United hit rock bottom under Mourinho, Ince said anyone could have taken over and lifted the mood by praising the players and giving them freedom.
As it turns out Ince wouldn't have done everything just the same as Solskjaer has. The former United and Liverpool player said Jesse Lingard was "simply not good enough to wear a Manchester United shirt", something strongly refuted by Solskjaer. Lingard has two goals and two assists in five appearances under his new manager, who gave him his debut in the United reserves team and believes he has plenty of talent.
It is deeply disingenuous to claim that anyone could have done what Solskjaer has done. While most would have given players more freedom, restored the emphasis on attacking football and been more complimentary of the squad it is demeaning to suggest the job is as easy as deciding to adopt an approach. It's one thing to know what to do, quite another to do it as successfully as Solskjaer has managed thus far.
Claiming that anyone could have done what Solskjaer did also ignores some of the more impressive things he has done, particularly in the game against Sours where he demonstrated tactical nous. The job is not so simple as saying nice things and telling the players to attack. It is more complicated and it is this complexity that Ince seems not to have grasped in his comments. It's not rocket science but it hasn't been so simple as Ince has claimed either.
Ince's former Liverpool teammate Jamie Carragher, now a Sky Sports pundit, dismissed the notion that anyone could have taken the United job and done as good a job as Solskjaer as "absolute nonsense". Pointing towards big decisions such as dropping striker Romelu Lukaku, Carragher argued that what Solskjaer has done so far is anything but easy.
To go into Old Trafford when the club was at rock bottom, lifting the spirits of the squad and winning the first six games, something no other United manager has done, is an impressive feat. Although the first five opponents were clubs United should be beating nothing is guaranteed and victory under another manager cannot be taken for granted. He's done a great job, it is wrong to suggest what Solskjaer has achieved thus far is so easy that anyone can do it.