Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership

Become A Member
Dublin: 4°C Thursday 13 May 2021

Has Ole Gunnar Solskjaer done enough to deserve a new £9 million-a-year contract?

Reports have suggested the Man United boss is set to be rewarded with a new deal.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (file pic).
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (file pic).
Image: PA

A GOOD SEASON for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could be about to get even better.

It was reported by The Mirror at the weekend that the Norwegian coach is set to sign a new contract worth £9 million a year — a considerable increase on his current rumoured annual salary of £7 million.

Should the deal transpire, it would be the latest in a series of significant moves behind the scenes at Old Trafford.

Earlier this month, it was confirmed that United had finally appointed a technical director — something many fans and pundits have been calling for, since not long after Alex Ferguson left — with former player Darren Fletcher taking on the role.

Meanwhile, in another interesting move, John Murtough — who has been at the club for seven years and was most recently head of football development — has been promoted to football director.

Therefore, re-signing Solskjaer — whose current contract is entering into its final year — does not necessarily represent a fundamental lack of change within the club.

But whether the 48-year-old deserves the lucrative new deal is debatable.

Should United finish second, and end the season with Europa League and FA Cup trophies, then it will be very difficult to convince anyone that it was the wrong decision.

Nevertheless, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that the Red Devils conclude the campaign both trophyless and outside of the top four.

It, therefore, begs the question: would they not have been better off waiting until the end of the current season before opting to reward Solskjaer?

On the face of it though, he is currently doing a good job.

Securing top-four football is no mean feat, given the level of competition currently in the Premier League and the added complication of a pandemic increasing the likelihood of unpredictable results and bad performances from big teams.

Naysayers will point to the fact that they are currently 14 points behind leaders Man City, albeit with a game in hand.

And it is now almost eight years since the Alex Ferguson era ended, and United have not mounted a serious title challenge since the legendary Scot’s departure.

For a club of the Red Devils’ stature to be in the wilderness for so long is simply unacceptable from their perspective.

Yet at least one Ferguson characteristic has been emulated, with Soskjaer’s success in rediscovering the club’s attacking DNA understood to be a key factor in the prospective new deal.

But the key question for anyone with the team’s best interests at heart is whether they believe Solskjaer is capable of bringing back the glory days in the long term.

You could argue the Norwegian has made steady progress. He is on course to become the first manager since Ferguson to achieve top-four finishes in consecutive seasons.

Yet the United boss will still have to do much more to convince sceptics that he truly belongs in the Ole Trafford hotseat, and the reality is that only a title win will definitively silence the critics.

At the moment though, the best manager in the world surely struggle to get much more from this crop of players.

They sit second when there are probably two to three teams with superior overall squads — Liverpool, Man City and Chelsea all ostensibly have better players to choose from, so you could argue Solskjaer and United are overachieving in the current circumstances. 

Where would the attacking trio of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood/Edinson Cavani rank in comparison to other top teams, for instance? Few neutrals would argue such options befit the second-best side in the league.

In that context, a new contract for Solskjaer does not seem like a bad call, but room for improvement in a number of positions — particularly at centre-back and up-front — mean nagging doubts will remain as to whether the former Molde coach can guide the English club to the levels to which they aspire ultimately.

One of his chief tasks will be eradicating the jarring inconsistency that has characterised this campaign — Man United, after all, are a club capable of losing to relegation-bound Sheffield United and beating quadruple-chasing Man City within a couple of weeks, of thrashing RB Leipzig 5-0 in the Champions League before losing 3-2 to the same opposition and exiting the competition’s group stages with a whimper.

A defining trait of Ferguson’s best sides was the ability to prevail even when they were playing badly, which is one skill that Solskjaer’s men have evidently yet to master.

Upcoming Premier League fixtures:

Be part
of the team

Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership.

Become a Member


Fulham v Leeds (20.00)


Brighton v Newcastle (20.00)


West Ham v Arsenal (15.00)
Aston Villa v Tottenham (19.30)

Upcoming FA Cup quarter-final fixtures:


Bournemouth v Southampton (12.15)
Everton v Man City (17.30)


Chelsea v Sheffield United (13.30)
Leicester v Man United (17.00)

Murray Kinsella, Bernard Jackman and Gavan Casey preview Ireland’s game against England and try to figure out where this team is going under Andy Farrell, if anywhere:

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

About the author:

Paul Fennessy

Read next:


This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel