He had us at “hello”.
Two parts Norwegian, one part unmistakable Manc. Eyes bursting with hope and a smile that could melt titanium.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was at the wheel of Man United’s supercar. In truth, he was barely fit to drive it. Sure, his CV included 11 years at Old Trafford as a player. But it also included relegation from the Premier League with Cardiff.
Fast forward just three months and Solskjaer has turned wine into water, Romelu Lukaku into Dennis Bergkamp and United fans into believers once again.
Records are tumbling with every 90 minutes. Solskjaer is the only United manager to win his first eight games in charge, extending the record set by Matt Busby in 1945.
No top-flight manager can top his tally of 26 points from his first ten games in charge.
He’s the first manager in the history of the Champions League to overturn a two-goal deficit having lost at home in the first leg of a knockout game. Thirty-four managers previously tried and failed.
Ole’s at the wheel and United are flying.
Something incredible has also happened off the pitch, arguably more impressive than any of the results. Football fans, including Man City and Liverpool supporters, are united in their love for Solskjaer.
It shouldn’t be feasible. United are the most hated club in England. Nothing brings the football world together like piling in on the Red Devils. That usually extends to whoever is steering the ship at Old Trafford.
Yet, when Marcus Rashford’s penalty went in against PSG, you couldn’t help but celebrate. Maybe it was an inward, hushed celebration, rather than a wild display of passion, but it was a celebration nonetheless.
It’s impossible not to be taken by Solskjaer because he’s essentially living out every football fan’s dream.
By going back to United’s roots Ole has proven that philosophies can withstand whatever Jose Mourinho throws at them and come out the other side stronger. That’s an encouraging thought in a world increasingly drifting away from your everyday fan.
Fittingly, Rashford was joined by 17-year-old Mason Greenwood and 19-year-old Tahith Chong when the final whistle blew against PSG. United’s academy, with a little help from Feyenoord, continues to deliver.
The timing of Rashford’s penalty- coming less than 90 seconds after Solskjaer’s winner against Bayern Munich in 1999- was Fergie Time at its finest.
Indeed, Sir Alex Ferguson celebrated in United’s dressing room after the game. Solskjaer doesn’t try and hide the past, like more egotistical managers would’ve done.
Of course, football fans won’t be quite so gleeful if Solskjaer turns United into genuine title contenders next season.
But for now, with a title challenge out of reach, Solskjaer can do no wrong.
Ole’s at the wheel and we’re all having a whale of a time on the back row.
READ MORE FROM THE WORLD OF DREAM TEAM:
- Ajax’s 4-1 win against Real Madrid is as much a victory for their scouts as it is the academy
- The 10 perfect performances that earned 10/10 ratings from L’Equipe
- Virgil van Dijk’s season is shaping up in eerily similar fashion to John Terry’s 2004/05 campaign