“A shambles.” “Absolutely hilarious.” “United writing off their season.”
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s appointment as interim Manchester United manager in December was met with a good deal of scepticism.
Some fans, like Mufaro, were so opposed to the appointment they thought what may have seemed unthinkable in the dark final days of Jose Mourinho’s tenure.
And, with a star-studded list of potential successors including Zinedine Zidane and Mauricio Pochettino, admiring glances were being cast elsewhere.
But fourteen weeks later, Solskjaer has signed a three-year contract to take the job on a permanent basis.
How did he do it? Here’s a social media timeline of how Solskjaer silenced the doubters – and you can vote at the bottom of this page on whether it’s the right appointment.
19 December: The (interim) appointment
Despite his legendary status as a player, Solskjaer’s return raised a few eyebrows – particularly after his doomed spell as manager of Cardiff City, who were relegated from the Premier League under him.
Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, former United director Edward Freedman said the news “doesn’t excite me” while ex-Red Devils midfielder Darren Fletcher said the club risked “writing off” the next two seasons by appointing an interim manager.
BBC Radio 5 live presenter – and former United trainee – Robbie Savage: “For Manchester United to be appointing an interim manager is a shambles.”
1GoldPLTrophy: “Let’s not lie about this; Ole Gunnar Solskjaer taking the United job is absolutely hilarious. It’s like us sacking Wenger and replacing him with Christopher Wreh.”
Snuffleupagus: “Sacked by Cardiff, good enough for United. Oh, how the times have changed.”
Others managed to look on the bright side of life…
22 December: The first match, the first win
The first time we got a taste of Solskjaer’s United was at his former club Cardiff.
Three days into his tenure, the Red Devils never looked back after a third-minute Marcus Rashford goal, and thumped the Bluebirds 5-1.
The United fans had a new song – and ‘Ole’s at the wheel, tell me how good does it feel?’ bellowed around the Cardiff City Stadium.
Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker was full of praise for the Premier League’s newest manager, as was former United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel.
The people’s poet: “Nice to see a Man Utd manager SMILING for once.”
Some fans, however, saw past the smiles…
Robo: “Same old story. Overpaid, spoilt players withdraw their labour until the nasty man who shouts at them has gone, then switch it on again. Not a thought for the supporters.”
After the win, left-back Luke Shaw said: “Of course we want top four. I don’t see why we can’t if we keep playing like that.”
With United eight points adrift of fourth place, that proved to be a conversation-starter for all the wrong reasons…
13 & 25 January: The first big tests… passed
Matches at Tottenham and Arsenal are never easy for an interim manager hoping to impress a new employer – and especially when that employer is a club of the stature of United.
But Solskjaer laughed in the face of such adversity – his side won 1-0 at Wembley and 3-1 at Emirates Stadium. The latter, by the way, made it eight wins from eight matches since his appointment.
In his match report of the Tottenham game, BBC Sport’s chief football writer Phil McNulty said: “Solskjaer has given a disaffected squad unity of purpose once more… and this run of wins has rebuilt fractured confidence and belief.”
Mohamed: “Madrid had Zidane, Barcelona had Pep, Solskjaer is Man Utd’s version of the two.”
Samuel James Lee: “Saying things and doing things a Man Utd manager should.”
12 February: The first wobble
Unbeaten runs have to end at some point. In Solskjaer’s case, it was 12 matches in. A Tuesday night in February and a 2-0 home defeat by French champions Paris St-Germain in the Champions League’s last 16.
McNulty described it as the Norwegian’s “toughest night”, adding: “He will not give up hope but logic suggests this is the end of the road for Manchester United’s Champions League ambitions.”
Adrian: “Oh wow, you mean super Solskjaer, the manager of the century, actually lost a game? How is that possible?!”
Mark: “Out of his depth tonight – he looked like he was going to cry.”
18 February: The bounceback
The dip was brief. A 2-0 win at Chelsea in the FA Cup kick-started the ‘Ole to be permanent boss’ talk all over again…
4PetesSake: “Every player has improved under Ole and his leadership team who are United through and through. Give Ole the job now.”
6 March: The night he got the job?
United fans travelled to Paris for the return leg of their Champions League tie more in hope than expectation.
But an odds-defying victory – secured with an injury-time penalty scored by a United youth product – wrote Solskjaer’s name into the club’s history. Again.
Remember when Robbie Savage described the initial appointment as a shambles? Well…
Finkelstein: “Brilliant United. Old Trafford will be renamed ‘Ole’s Trafford’ Brilliant win. From a Spurs fan.”
Jenny: “Suddenly I’m back in 1999. Smile on my face. Thanks OGS.”
Even the haters couldn’t help but appreciate a football masterclass.
A. M. Peacock: “Amazing. I’ve grown up hating Man Utd but even I want to see Ole succeed.”
7 March: The morning after the night before
Hope had been restored, and all was well at Old Trafford.
So much so, this Chelsea supporter decided to bet his job on it…
10 & 16 March: The first domestic defeat… and then the second
Just four days after that amazing night in Paris, United failed to spark on Premier League duty, losing 2-0 at Arsenal.
Another six days on, they were out of the FA Cup after a 2-1 defeat by Wolves at Molineux.
Khalid: “Honeymoon over, bubble burst. Man Utd back to mediocre.”
Red of Oscar: “Can someone please give Solskjaer the job now before they realise he’s a fraud?”
28 March: The (permanent) appointment
“Get the contract out, put it on the table, let him sign it. Let him write whatever numbers he wants to put on there. Ole’s at the wheel, he’s doing his thing. Man Utd are back.”
Former United defender Rio Ferdinand was in no doubt after United’s win at PSG – and he was soon on Twitter after the official announcement:
Current and former players, as well as fans, were very happy:
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