If you are a Manchester United fan, I’m sure you’re starting to enjoy watching football again. A change of leadership has given the team a new look and they’re starting to play free-flowing, attacking football, which arguably hasn’t been seen at Old Trafford since Sir Alex Ferguson stepped down. Which is great if you are a United fan, not so if you are a Tottenham fan and your team gets robbed as De Gea decides to turn up for the first time this season and make 11 saves in one game. 11! 11 saves! The most in a Premier League game this season. However, I’m over it and I have moved on. But the point I’m trying to make is now that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has taken over from Jose Mourinho, the players are performing better due to his man-management tactics.
Arguably the two players that have excelled the most under Solskjaer so far are Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba. Both players were subjected to Mourinho’s negative criticism during his tenure. Numerous times both players were ridiculed in press conferences and publicly shamed for poor performances whilst playing for the red devils. Mourinho questioned Rashford’s capability of being their main striker after a poor outing against Bournemouth last season and Pogba and Mourinho clashed multiple times both on and off the pitch.
For United fans this was incredibly frustrating as they were turning up to watch their team perform poorly week in and week out. Furthermore, when Man United’s players were representing their countries, they looked like completely different players. Both Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford have enjoyed playing under Gareth Southgate for England, with Jesse being one of England’s stars during the World Cup and Marcus Rashford has been unstoppable for England in the recent Nations League group stage games against Croatia and Spain. The case was the same for Pogba, when he played for France, he was living up to the hype created when Man United paid Juventus £95M for his services, which at the time was the biggest transfer fee ever paid for a single player. Pogba was pivotal for France when they won the World Cup last summer. After seeing Pogba’s performance in the World Cup, many United fans were hoping Pogba would take this form into the new season and help the team challenge for a league title, which they haven’t won since Sir Alex Ferguson left. However, this wasn’t the case, he was under performing due to a lack of confidence installed in him by Mourinho and was often left out of the starting 11.
Since Solskjaer took over, Man United have looked like a completely different team. A big factor for Man United’s recent rejuvenation is Solskjaer’s philosophy of attack, attack, attack, to create more chances, get more shots off and inevitably score more goals. The most noticeable factor though is how he treats his players. Instead of how Mourinho tried to motivate them by criticising them in order for them to go and prove him wrong, Solskjaer praises the players every time they do something right. And when they do something wrong, his criticism is constructive and lets them know how to do it better next time.
Solskjaer’s man-management tactics have so far proved fruitful for Man United’s push to try and get a top 4 finish and secure Champions League football for next season. At the time of writing this, Rashford has scored 5 goals in 7 games under his new manager and is starting to live up to his full potential that people saw when he debuted a few seasons ago. Paul Pogba’s numbers are more impressive, he has scored 5 goals and assisted 4 goals in 7 games under Solksjaer, meaning he has had a hand in a total of 9 goals out of 17 scored by Man United since Solksjaer’s appointment and he is starting to look like one of World’s best central midfielders, which is what people expected to see when Man United paid all that money for him back in 2016.
So far, Solsksjaer’s appointment has proved to have been the right call from the Man United board. He is the first Man United manager since Sir Matt Busby to win all 6 of his opening games as manager and has the red devils playing free-flowing, attacking football with Rashford, Pogba and Lingard at the heart of it. However, it is still early doors and he may not have the role on a permanent basis after this season, but it is fair to say his positive, full of praise and encouraging man-management tactics has helped his team to perform better. Is your team under the same style of management?