You usually get a lift when a new manager comes in, the results pick up. And sometimes it doesn’t work out well in the long term, when the man who is the hero as a caretaker becomes the permanent manager.
It’s one thing being a caretaker manager when everyone is on your side. It’s another thing to be a long-term manager who is the one making the decisions, you are the one who is giving the players a new contract, or getting rid of them, and all of a sudden you have some players who don’t like the manager as much as they used to as they know they are on the way out.
That will be a challenge, but he can’t sign any players between now and the end of the season so he will largely focus on what he has, trying to get a really good finish to the season, he will try and give the club a focus where everyone is looking at a fourth-place finish, so he has to create a focused mindset to see if they can get fourth in the Premier League and win the Champions League.
He has that European experience as he has won it as a player with United and it would be the ultimate story if he do it again.
One thing that’s clear about United under Solskjaer is that the fans are really behind him, and if anything does go wrong between now and the end of the season, the supporters will turn on the players, not the manager, as they like him so much. He has goodwill and respect in the bank from the club but the fans as well, and if the players buy into what he is doing, having that momentum could really push United on.
He has turned the club around so giving him the job on a permanent basis made complete sense. Everyone speaks about how positive United is as a place now, he has managed to get the right atmosphere around the club, the players seem to be happy going in to work every day, and that counts a lot towards what you do as a player on a Saturday.
I think they lost their way for a while, the players seemed to be depressed, under stress all the time. They have played with a bit of freedom since Solskjaer came in and that changed so much but mood is so important.
You need to be happy in your workplace, no matter what job you do, and footballers are no different.
The United camp was unhappy for so long under Mourinho and that came from him: you listen to interviews and it was ‘he’s not fit, he’s not playing well’, it was all negative coming from the club and that came from Mourinho, that put a cloud over the whole club.
His method can work: it was successful in his first spell at Chelsea, less so the second time around. And it was not successful at United.
Now they have a manager who is talking the players up, telling the media what bright futures the young players have. And it makes a difference.
Of course there will be questions: the fact that he failed at Cardiff, that maybe he’s not experienced enough to do the job long-term. But sometimes you are just the right man in the right place at the right time and that’s the case for Solskjaer and United now.
He does need to take them to another level. They have the money to let them think about winning the Premier League again and if he goes and buys even a couple of players, United could challenge for the league next season.