Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has arguably fallen into the Jose Mourinho trap and needs to sort things out before they get out of hand.
Sir Alex Ferguson often spoke about how, when setting his teams up, he would mostly focus on his own side and only a little attention was spent on the opponent.
The legendary Scotsman made it a point to reiterate the balance was delicate and couldn’t sway too much in the other direction or it’d become dangerous.
Mourinho often set United up on a match by match basis and it was why he was accused of not having any real tactics, philosophy or style at the club.
When Solskjaer came in it was clear what he wanted the team to do and it was just a case of making the players do it better to show progression.
It was partly why he won the job- for having a clear idea of how his team should play and delivering results at the same time.
It could be argued this season that Solskjaer’s lost his way a little and become more and more like Mourinho as the pressure on his job increases.
Many have accused the Red Devils of being inconsistent and while there are many factors to consider, fans are sick of being unable to guess the formation the team will line up in on a match to match basis.
Solskjaer’s so desperate to win and keep his job that every match he’s focussing on nullifying the opponents’ strengths rather than working on his own team’s power.
Perhaps it would’ve been naive but Manchester United could’ve used their pace, dribbling and creativity in the final third to their advantage.
Instead, Solskjaer focussed on keeping City at bay, targetting Fernandinho to cut his opponents at the source so they couldn’t play through his players.
Unfortunately, it was such a massive team effort to do that that when United did have the ball they could hardly counter-attack, both out of fatigue and a lack of options moving forward given how deep everyone was.
Solskjaer must trust his players and their strengths- that they will overpower their opponents instead of being too worried about what such and such team may do.
There’s a case to be made that the legendary Norwegian has become afraid ever since the heavy 6-1 loss to Tottenham Hotspur, funnily enough Mourinho’s team, and has since made it his priority to shore up the defence to avoid ever being embarrassed again similarly.
Unfortunately that’s come at a cost and the Red Devils are often stifled until forced to change something which explains Solskjaer’s many half-time subs and comeback wins.
He deserves credit for those turnarounds but there’s only so often it can happen before his initial decisions such as the starting XI or starting tactics can be questioned.
If Solskjaer wants to succeed at Manchester United he has to learn to trust his players again, for better or for worse, or he’ll only become more and more like Mourinho.
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