Remember back in December 2018, when Manchester United sacked José Mourinho and put Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in caretaker charge?

Even as an interim appointment, it seemed pretty ludicrous.

Solskjaer may have been a United legend but as a manager he’d been relegated with Cardiff City and hadn’t done a particularly brilliant job with Norwegian side Molde.

“What’s he gonna do!? Show the players a video of the 1999 Champions League final!?” we laughed and wasn’t it funny?


But the the joke was on us when Solskjaer made us look a bit silly by winning his first 11 games in charge.

“Yeah, it’s just the new manager bounce though isn’t it?” we said, and we were proved right on 12 February 2019, when Paris Saint-Germain schooled United at Old Trafford to put one foot in the Champions League quarter-final.

But then Solskjaer made us look rather foolish again when United not only went unbeaten in the next five games but also turned the tie with PSG on its head and won 3-1 at the Parc des Princes in the second leg.

A couple of weeks later, Solskjaer was given the job on a full-time basis and this Sunday against Liverpool, he will take charge of his 100th game since taking over permanently.


United head to Anfield with the chance to go six points clear at the top of the Premier League. If they win, it will be Solskjaer’s 68th victory in 119 matches as United manager.

That would put him on 1.92 points-per-match (PPM) during his time in charge. For comparison, Jürgen Klopp is currently on 2.04 PPM at Liverpool, while Pep Guardiola is on 2.33 at Manchester City.

Solskjaer may not be on the same level as those two but the stats suggest he isn’t far off.

“Yes but United are getting results in spite of their manager. Imagine how good they’d be with someone competent in charge?”

That’s a fair question, but we may never truly know whether someone like Mauricio Pochettino or Massimiliano Allegri really would have done a better job than Solskjaer.

His predecessors didn’t exactly set the world alight, although José Mourinho can at least boast a slightly better PPM (1.97) at United than Solskjaer. He doesn’t call himself The Special One for nothing.


The big problem Solskjaer has is that even though you might really want to give him credit, it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what he deserves credit for.

Points-per-match mean little in an era when United haven’t won a league title for seven years and the closest the Norwegian has come to winning something so far (finishing third doesn’t count) is losing four semi-finals.

Is he tactically or stylistically innovative? Not particularly.

Has he worked wonders on a low budget? Nope.

Has he even improved United since taking over? Possibly, but it’s debatable.

Maybe he does deserve some credit for salvaging a decent team from the wreckage of Mourinho’s Old Trafford tenure. He’s instilled belief in players like Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, while also identifying influential signings like Bruno Fernandes and Harry Maguire.

(Maybe Ed Woodward also deserves a bit of credit for the squad he’s helped build, and maybe he isn’t the devil incarnate after all, but that’s a debate for another day.)


It will be interesting to see how long this current purple patch lasts because we’ve seen a few false dawns during Solksjaer’s relatively short stint in charge.

United have won nothing yet and it may all end in tears but the very fact they’re top of the league just over two years since Solskjaer was put in caretaker charge is making those who called him a glorified PE teacher look pretty silly right now.

It’s all gone quiet over there. For the time being, at least.


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