From Norwegian “PE teacher” to top Manager: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s rise to managerial stardom

Aakash Rao
3 min readMar 29, 2021

It was 18th September 2014. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has just been sacked by Cardiff City after a frankly train-wreck reign of 8 months. Fast-forward to January 2021, and OGS had just led Man United to the top of the PL table after a win against Aston Villa.

OGS’s managerial rise has been a bit of a fairytale, and frankly, it has involved some sort of luck. Nevertheless, the job OGS has done with Man United is a huge one, considering this is the side which finished 6th in the 18/19 season despite winning against the likes of PSG in the CL. It has been a huge rollercoaster ride for the average Manchester United fan since then, but the storm has started to settle at Old Trafford, as the Mancunians start to build a project which is meant to last for years.

The main question is, however, how did Manchester United go from dropping out of the CL in the group stage to winning 9–0 against a solid Southampton side while also clinching 2nd place in a highly competitive PL?

The answer is simple: Man Management. Let’s not fool ourselves and claim OGS is some tactical genius. He’s clearly not. He utilises the simplest of formations, and his attackers simply rely on Bruno Fernandes’s contibution. His midfield and defence isn’t any better tactically, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s solid defending and Luke Shaw’s attacking prowess being the only highlights of a generally haphazard defence. Despite all these flaws, OGS still produces the results when most needed. The recent derby win was one both the players and the fans craved, and it helped to improve morale, which led to the much better form we experienced. All this is simply thanks to OGS having the best man management I have ever seen.

Let me explain. All we have to do is look to how he managed the Paul Pogba situation, and how Jose Mourinho handled the Pogba situation. During both managers’ reigns, Paul Pogba and his agent combined together to cause uncertainty over Pogba’s future, yet one manager called Pogba a virus, and the other actually improved the Frenchman. Paul Pogba came back to Old Trafford to play under the tactical ‘genius’ Mourinho, and yet Mourinho treated him like dirt. OGS could have just sold him to get the best possible fee for Pogba, but instead he improved him. Starting to get what i mean?

Another example is Luke Shaw. He is also another player who was chastised by Mourinho. However, this season, he has arguably been United’s player of the season. When asked about his upturn in for, he simply pointed out his manager’s supportiveness as the main reason.

Sometimes, while managers like Tuchel may help a team thrive due to their tactics, some teams simply require a positive environment to thrive, and OGS has given Man United that. His man management has helped individual players to thrive, while also improving the squad as a whole. All in all, Man United’s situation just goes to show a few kind words and caring for someone can end up being a huge help for them.

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Aakash Rao

An avid Manchester United fan and football/music blogger!