Equal Time: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer positivity is a breath of fresh air
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Around six months ago, Manchester United's squad became mentally frail. A mega-talented, expensively-assembled squad were coasting through matches with their tail between their legs. The typical Red Devils guts, guile and never-say-die attitude had diminished.
Teams are built in the image of their manager. It was no surprise to see a depressed squad taking their foot off the gas when their manager was the epitome of constantly being in a foul mood. Jose Mourinho always had a scowl on his face, the self-proclaimed Special One always had something to moan about. Be it taking swipes at his players, or daring to cross the United board - and sometimes even the Old Trafford faithful. Mourinho third-season syndrome was well and truly sinking in.
In stepped Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the Baby Faced Assassin. His outgoing, always-smiley outlook on football and life, in general, was an immediate relief for the players. They began to express themselves, playing with real freedom, believing in their own ability once again. The shackles were well and truly off.
After a stunning three-month period in which United could go toe-to-toe with anyone on British shores, the players simply ran out of gas. The defence-first mindset installed by Mourinho was taking effect. The squad looked exhausted, they couldn't keep up with this high-pressing style implemented by Solskjaer. Results tailed off quickly which ensured a dismal end to the season. The fans had started to turn on the 1999 Champions League final hero - for something that I firmly believe wasn't his fault...
Fast-forward to the 2019 United tour. The 20-time Premier League champions have won four from four, in pretty convincing fashion, too. Performances against Inter Milan and Tottenham Hotspur represent a good benchmark, United were the dominant team in both matches, winning 1-0 and 2-1 respectively.
It wasn't just the result, it's the manner. The players pressed high, they were eager to win the ball back and make things happen. Fluidity in movement has suddenly appeared in the same squad that Mourinho had at his disposal (barring Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James). Who'd have thought it, eh? A positive mindset leads to positive results.
Solskjaer has recently admitted he'd happily head into the season with no further signings. This angered some sections of United's fan-base. What would you want him to do? Throw these players that he'll have no choice but to utilise over the next twelve months under the bus? That's never going to happen nor would it be a smart decision.
I get fan frustration in regards to a lack of selling, but this one is on the United board. When you hand bang-average players big-money contracts, what manager in their right mind is going to sanction big-money bids to sign them? The Reds have to cut their losses and slowly begin to phase these guys out as their deals run down. Remember Rome wasn't built in a day.
Again, this positive outlook while speaking to the media is rubbing off on the squad. The players are starting to believe again which is only a good thing. Who knows, if Solskjaer can get the likes of Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo and Ashley Young playing some semi-decent stuff, then potential suitors may start sniffing around once more...
The notion that Solksjaer is a 'yes man' to the Glazer family and Edward Woodward is a completely false one too. If that's the case, why is he demanding the board to get a deal done for Harry Maguire as soon as possible? Surely if he was only in to please the powers-that-be, he wouldn't be trying to throw his weight around like that?
Having a positive demeanour is an absolute necessity. Quite frankly, Solskjaer's attitude is a breath of fresh air and at the very least, it should fill us all with a renewed confidence going into a crucial 2019/20 campaign.