Ole Gunnar Solskjær was appointed the manager of Manchester United in late 2018 on a caretaker basis. He followed in the footsteps of José Mourinho, who was sacked by the Manchester United board. Having previously managed at Cardiff City, who were relegated during his time at the club, Solskjær was not expected to be the long term successor to Mourinho.

However, Solskjær’s first match came against former club, Cardiff City and Manchester United ran out 5–1 winners in a great display of attacking football. It was the first time the team had scored 5 goals in a match since Sir Alex Ferguson’s final match at West Bromwich Albion in May 2013. It was a great start but it was the victory at Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League round of 16 second leg that sealed Solskjær’s place as permanent manager. Manchester United came back from a defeat in the first leg to win 3-1 in Paris and there were calls from fans and pundits alike for Solskjær to be offered a contract.

Having won 14 of his 19 matches in charge, Solskjær signed a three-year contract with the club in March 2019 but how successful has he been as Manchester United boss?

At the time of writing, Manchester United are second in the Premier League and have a Europa League final against Villarreal to play before the end of the season. They look set to finish in the top four and qualify for the Champions League and are the favourites to win the Europa League final. It is the first time Solskjær has led the team to a cup final and a tremendous opportunity to put some silverware in the Old Trafford trophy cabinet. His European players will then leave for the summer and there will be plenty of Euro 2021 betting to enjoy.

Unfortunately, this season has not been without disappointment for Solskjær. The elimination at the group stage of the Champions League was a failure, especially as Manchester United were in a decent position heading into the final two games of the group. The Reds lost out in the semi-final of the Europa League last season and at the same stage of the FA Cup this season, at the hands of Leicester City. So, there have been plenty of ups and downs in the cup competitions.

In 2019/20, his first full season in charge, Manchester United finished in third place in the Premier League, all be it with the same points total as the previous campaign. It was only the second time Manchester United had finished in the top three since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson. After 18 games of the 2020/21 season, Manchester United were top of the Premier League but some inconsistent performances and the great form of Manchester City has seen them drop to second place, where they are likely to finish.

If Manchester United do finish second and win the Europa League, it will be a successful season and progress will have been made from the previous campaign. So, in that respect, Solskjær appears to be moving in the right direction with the team but to say his time has been a success would be overjumping the mark at this point in time.

Chris Darwen
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