Ole Gunnar Solskjær deserves a new contract

Manchester United has done the right thing by handing over manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær to a new contract until at least 2024, with the norm representing steady progress since he returned to Old Trafford a few days before Christmas 2018.

In two full seasons, Solskjaers United have finished third and second in the Premier League, accounting for two of their top three league appearances in eight years since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, reaching five cup semi-finals and playing in a European final.

The real success that the club and the fans long for is not there yet, but the important thing to remember is the ongoing development and improvement. There will come a time when it will no longer be enough for United to simply just get better, but that time is not yet.

United switched between managers who all wanted different things between 2013 and 2018, none of which seemed to really fit with the club’s own core philosophies. When Jose Mourinho was fired, the squad was a broken composition of conflicting regimes and the last two and a half years have largely been about tearing things up and starting anew with a new vision.

Solskjaer’s reign has coincided with a new start for Man Utd / Clive Brunskill / Getty Images

Solskjaer will undoubtedly not get the credit he deserves for his role in it. After spending 15 years at the club as a player and coach, he understands what United is all about and should be better than most. It is something that has been missing for a long time without any overall plan or strategy.

Since his appointment on a permanent contract in 2019, there has not only been a reworking of the playing squad but a renewal of the scout and recruitment process and a renewed commitment to the youth academy that had been neglected, just as it had been in the 1980s and United is without doubt in a much better position now than when Solskjær arrived. It is not up for debate.

“Ole has beaten some of the biggest bosses in the game. I do not think he gets enough credit, tactically. I do not know why. Maybe it’s because he’s an ex-player or because he succeeded Cardiff and it did not go as he wanted. But he has shown that he can put together a game plan, says former United midfielder Owen Hargreaves exclusively for 90 minutes in May.

Pep Guardiola won nothing in his first season with Manchester City from a much better starting point, while Jurgen Klopp did not win a trophy or get a serious Premier League title challenge until his third full season with Liverpool, who needed to build a squad first.

Liverpool gave Jurgen Klopp time to build a team and it paid off during his third full season in charge / Getty Images / Getty Images

Solskjaer is about to start his third full season as United manager and when Jadon Sancho comes in to continue the recruitment and other key signings that are still expected, it is only now that the club can really start competing and be judged against the best again.

From a purely football perspective, Solskjaer is not yet consistent in proving that he is an elite manager. Lack of exchanges in the Europa League final against Villarreal did not help that picture because a tiring United saw no ideas for 120 minutes in Gdansk.

But with an incomplete squad that could not hope to compete with Manchester City or Liverpool for the past three years, he has not had the opportunity. It is also worth noting that he is undefeated against Guardiola in the last four Premier League matches between them and won three of them.

In the end, it may be that Solskjaer is still not the right manager to consistently return the glory days to Old Trafford. But he is definitely not the wrong manager so far and as long as he continues to take the club forward, he deserves the opportunity to see through it.

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