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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Man United are emulating Gareth Southgate’s England path

It was 55 years since England last reached a major international final and since then there have been many false dawns, tears in Turin and heartbreak on penalties at Wembley. Although England couldn’t end that long, painful wait for the taste of success this summer, they offered a divided nation the opportunity to come together and dream.

Gareth Southgate has been the driving force behind the Three Lions’ renaissance in recent years. Articulate, compassionate and understanding, the England boss is a master at man-management and that’s been reflected in the team’s performances on the pitch.

Southgate has brought England to places some fans never thought were possible and reaching a World Cup semi-final and European Championship final in such a short space of time is an achievement to be celebrated.

Only Sir Alf Ramsey and Southgate have taken England to two major semi-finals and yet you don’t have to look far to see calls for the current England boss to be relieved of his duties, with his tactical inadequacies put under a magnifying glass on social media when England endure even the most minor of setbacks. Most recently conceding a last-minute goal against Poland, for example.

The mass hysteria after a poor result on social media is interesting to analyse. It’s within the very tribalistic nature of supporters to exude emotion depending on which way a game goes, but it’s dangerous to lose track of the bigger picture – that’s exactly what happened when Manchester United lost to BSC Young Boys this week, though.

United’s humbling in Switzerland was an unacceptable result, but when you consider both of the hosts’ goals were down to individual lapses in concentration and that Aaron Wan-Bissaka condemned United to play with 10-men, then perspective is needed.

Manchester United enjoyed a sensational transfer window, securing the signings of Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and… oh, yes, Cristiano Ronaldo.

Now, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be under pressure to deliver silverware with his star-studded front line. We cover every angle of the club at the MEN and with our dedicated United newsletter, you’ll never miss a headline. It’s free and there’s no spam.

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The Reds’ problems on the night were certainly exacerbated by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s lacklustre decision making from the technical area, however, were calls to remove the Norwegian from his post after the game really justified?

Just like Southgate, Solskjaer has had to endure constant doubts over his credentials to manage at an elite level and that’s unfair.

It’s important to remember that Solskjaer inherited Jose Mourinho’s omnishambles upon his appointment and that United were in complete disarray, just like England were when Southgate took over from Sam Allardyce and yet both managers have navigated their respective sides into envious positions up to this point. They’ve installed the foundations to work from.

While some may have legitimate concerns over Solskjaer’s tactical nous, there’s no denying that the United boss has proved he’s currently the right man for the job and it’s easy to echo that sentiment on Southgate – the similarities between the pair are obvious.

No matter the success of Southgate and Solskjaer – the latter will be correctly more harshly judged on silverware won – both will need to be braced for an avalanche of negativity after the smallest of setbacks because some have simply never thought they were good enough for their roles to begin with and they won’t change their opinion.

Are Solskjaer and Southgate the most glamorous, Hollywood appointments for United and England? They aren’t, but they’re exactly what their sides have needed across the last few years as they move forward from their transitional periods.

Again, just like Southgate, Solskjaer has his flaws, but he’s earned the privilege to prove he can deliver major honours.

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