The Five Eras of Solskjaer's Manchester United

georgipep

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A fantastic analysis of the evolution of Manchester United under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Would love to read your thoughts!
 

dal

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Very good read.

Gary Neville has alluded to this press before. To the untrained eye it actually seems as if Rashford is lazy however Rashford is anything but lazy. He’s been asked to do this to allow the opponents to come out so we can counter them from the mcfred press, something fergie did very well especially in 2013.

I think every fan now knows that Ole is a pragmatic manager, we can play in different ways and recently now our mentality has improved we are braver with our play, no more back 3’s.

Ole has great leadership qualities and he adapts to change and problems very well too. I also think his character will change as his grip on the club grows, he will still be mellow but will certainly become more and more assertive.
 
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Ole's screen

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This is a very good and well thought out set of articles. Interesting point about the mid-block as I had noticed it and wondered if it was Rashford and Martial being lazy or Ole giving them less workload to keep them fit in a hectic season. But the application of tempting the opposition to play through the midfield in order to press them there to launch counter attacks are not dissimilar to Klopp's gegenpressing.

Also raises an interesting point regarding our troubles against the top teams this season. If it is simply down to them being conservative and daring McFred to beat them should we be changing up that combo for Liverpool? Or maybe they're more willing to be conservative at OT and will be more aggressive at their home, in that case the fact that we face most of the big teams away from OT for the second half might just work in our favour.
 
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Zen86

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Genuinely interesting read. Demonstrates just how much work and thought actually goes into these things, and serves as a reminder of how much firefighting he’s had to do in his time here.
 

Bilbo

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Great read. One that I urge all Ole doubters to read through carefully. It does a lot to dispel any of the thoughts about him being tactically inept and also highlights the selection issues we've had for a large % of his time here.

Also, this team isn't finished yet. That is clear. Next season we will be a different animal entirely.
 

Halftrack

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Very interesting read.

Just goes to show who completely full of shit the "there's no style/pattern/plan!!" crowd is.
 

Valencia Shin Crosses

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This is a very good and well thought out set of articles. Interesting point about the mid-block as I had noticed it and wondered if it was Rashford and Martial being lazy or Ole giving them less workload to keep them fit in a hectic season. But the application of tempting the opposition to play through the midfield in order to press them there to launch counter attacks are not dissimilar to Klopp's gegenpressing.

Also raises an interesting point regarding our troubles against the top teams this season. If it is simply down to them being conservative and daring McFred to beat them should we be changing up that combo for Liverpool? Or maybe they're more willing to be conservative at OT and will be more aggressive at their home, in that case the fact that we face most of the big teams away from OT for the second half might just work in our favour.
I think you have to play Pogba against Liverpool. In big games you need players who can win a match for you, and if we really want go for the 3 points and go right at Liverpool (which we should considering their form and backline is constantly changing) then we can't afford just playing McFred and reverting back to hit and hope tactics to steal the game.

I'd go: AWB, Bailly, Maguire, Shaw/ Fred, Pogba, McT, Bruno/ Martial, Rashford

We could potentially play Cavani through the middle and drop McT for a set up more similar to the Sevilla game in the Semi-Final, but I don't see Ole being that bold going away from home to Anfield and knowing realistically that a point is fine at this stage.
 

Lewnited

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Great read. I've spent the whole season wondering why Rashford's pressing on the wings seems so half hearted, I had assumed he was just 'cheating' to be prepared for counters but it never occured to me that it's essentially a pressing trap, just not as high up the pitch.
 

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Awesome read... gives credit where due and which is otherwise overlooked. OGS had a shit squad and was expected to work miracles. He clearly had/has a plan just need the right players to execute it. Its a travesty the kind of squad depth united had, the mediocrity was insane.
 

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Our key player this season according to that is Juan Mata or Paul Pogba :houllier:
 

lost7

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That was a really good read. I don't agree with some of the analysis there, but I always appreciate articles based on data.

I think the most interesting take-away from these articles is that the way we were structured post lockdown last season was probably the definitive way Ole wants us to play. The only problem was that we didn't have any kind of rotation in the team and so our form inevitably dropped once the players became fatigued.

Our main issues at the moment is that we don't really have a right wing (unless we sacrifice Rashy and play him out of position) and both of our midfield combinations have serious limitations. McTominay/Fred bring a lot of energy and win the ball back a lot, but their progressive passing is poor and that stifles our creativity. Matic and Pogba are better in that regard, but would probably be a lot less effective against top teams where we wouldn't have a lot of possession.

With a proper right winger (Sancho) and a top CDM who could do the job of both McTominay and Fred on his own (like a prime Matic or a Fabinho) I have no doubts we would really make the jump and be able to go toe to toe with Man City and Liverpool in all aspects of the game, as both of our issues would be tackled. Hopefully our board is on it and is planning to address this in the summer
 
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Brexit_Brigade

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Very good read overall, although Mata as a key player in part five is absolute nonsense. He's literally started 4 games.

A lot of good stuff in there about the reality of the #McFred combination being a bit crap last season, James being much more effective early on than most of us now give him credit for, and especially the recent change to a lower press leading teams like Sheff Utd to push further up the pitch.

The key takeaway from all five parts is that Matic is still far, far too important to this team considering the state of his legs. Desperately need a proper replacement for the man.
 
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Volumiza

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I enjoyed reading that, dead interesting. No doubt about how well he’s managed the squad and it highlights the absolute mess he inherited and the evolution the squad has gone through.
 

slored1

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Decent read, but Mata played in 10 games this season. He was never key for us, especially not under Ole and there are at least 10 players that have a higher impact on the team than Mata has had so far.
 

TrustInJanuzaj

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Yeh, I echo the points in here, its a really interesting piece that goes into good detail. I don't necessarily agree with everything said but I think its good place to start especially for those people who have doubted from day one that we have any plan or identity. What it does do, is provide confidence that with just a few more of the right players we would build an elite team which can seriously compete. Its a credit to Ole that he has us in this position without those key pieces in place but then that's what Fergie used to do!
 

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Good article, although there are a few things I disagree with. Stats have to take into account the level of opposition, which is the one thing I think the article does overlook in parts.

Most notably the way it highlights Matic as a key aspect, when in reality he tends to only start against bottom teams so of course we're going to have a better record. For instance since the Spurs disaster he's only started in a midfield two against West Brom (19th), Sheffield Utd (20th), Wolves (14th) and Burnley (16th) in the league. Actually in the cups he did start in the League Cup win against Everton, but we also lost both of the two games in the CL (Basaksehir and Leipzig).

Similarly, when talking about last season after we signed Bruno it exaggerated the difference pre and post lockdown, or perhaps a more accurate thing to say is that it failed to acknowledge the difference in opposition quality. The article says we only won three and drew three of our six league matches so I presume it's also including the Spurs match (even though it does say before lockdown), but those six matches were Wolves, Chelsea, Watford, Everton, Man City and Spurs. Four teams fighting for Europe, a decent midtable team and one relegation fighter. After that we did win six of our last eight, but the only two teams we faced in the top 10 were Sheffield Utd and Leicester, both of whom struggled massively after lockdown and were in freefall. The other six teams were in 15th, 19th, 18th, 12th, 14th and 15th at the time we faced them. We were huge favourites in every match and it's hardly surprising that we won a higher percentage and scored more goals. We certainly did play very well for the first two or three games of that run, but for the remainder it wasn't anything special and if anything it was probably worse than the pre-lockdown (post-Bruno) form.

Overall though it is a very good article, but don't take it all as gospel.
 

georgipep

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Our key player this season according to that is Juan Mata or Paul Pogba :houllier:
Very good read overall, although Mata as a key player in part five is absolute nonsense. He's literally started 4 games.

A lot of good stuff in there about the reality of the #McFred combination being a bit crap last season, James being much more effective early on than most of us now give him credit for, and especially the recent change to a lower press leading teams like Sheff Utd to push further up the pitch.

The key takeaway from all five parts is that Matic is still far, far too important to this team considering the state of his legs. Desperately need a proper replacement for the man.
Decent read, but Mata played in 10 games this season. He was never key for us, especially not under Ole and there are at least 10 players that have a higher impact on the team than Mata has had so far.
Mata is key because of his almost unique role in the squad to be part of the front four positions and still be able to add creativity (either as a roaming nominally right-sided attacking player, or by dropping deeper into the midfield). The only other two players we have who bring the creative spark are Pogba and Bruno.
That was a really good read. I don't agree with some of the analysis there, but I always appreciate articles based on data.

I think the most interesting take-away from these articles is that the way we were structured post lockdown last season was probably the definitive way Ole wants us to play. The only problem was that we didn't have any kind of rotation in the team and so our form inevitably dropped once the players became fatigued.

Our main issues at the moment is that we don't really have a right wing (unless we sacrifice Rashy and play him out of position) and both of our midfield combinations have serious limitations. McTominay/Fred bring a lot of energy and win the ball back a lot, but their progressive passing is poor and that stifles our creativity. Matic and Pogba are better in that regard, but would probably be a lot less effective against top teams where we wouldn't have a lot of possession.

With a proper right winger (Sancho) and a top CDM who could do the job of both McTominay and Fred on his own (like a prime Matic or a Fabinho) I have no doubts we would really make the jump and be able to go toe to toe with Man City and Liverpool in all aspects of the game, as both of our issues would be tackled. Hopefully our board is on it and is planning to address this in the summer
I don't think we need a player to do what McT and Fred do. Prime (or curent) Matic is not that kind of player. It is more about staying deeper and screening the defence while we have committed bodies in attack. That requires great positioning, anticipation, reading the game but also physical presence and a bit of pace. I don't watch enough football outside of Man Utd to even begin to contemplate on suitable players.
 

TrustInJanuzaj

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Good article, although there are a few things I disagree with. Stats have to take into account the level of opposition, which is the one thing I think the article does overlook in parts.

Most notably the way it highlights Matic as a key aspect, when in reality he tends to only start against bottom teams so of course we're going to have a better record. For instance since the Spurs disaster he's only started in a midfield two against West Brom (19th), Sheffield Utd (20th), Wolves (14th) and Burnley (16th) in the league. Actually in the cups he did start in the League Cup win against Everton, but we also lost both of the two games in the CL (Basaksehir and Leipzig).

Similarly, when talking about last season after we signed Bruno it exaggerated the difference pre and post lockdown, or perhaps a more accurate thing to say is that it failed to acknowledge the difference in opposition quality. The article says we only won three and drew three of our six league matches so I presume it's also including the Spurs match (even though it does say before lockdown), but those six matches were Wolves, Chelsea, Watford, Everton, Man City and Spurs. Four teams fighting for Europe, a decent midtable team and one relegation fighter. After that we did win six of our last eight, but the only two teams we faced in the top 10 were Sheffield Utd and Leicester, both of whom struggled massively after lockdown and were in freefall. The other six teams were in 15th, 19th, 18th, 12th, 14th and 15th at the time we faced them. We were huge favourites in every match and it's hardly surprising that we won a higher percentage and scored more goals. We certainly did play very well for the first two or three games of that run, but for the remainder it wasn't anything special and if anything it was probably worse than the pre-lockdown (post-Bruno) form.

Overall though it is a very good article, but don't take it all as gospel.
Good post and I agree. Th article definitely seems to downplay our pre lockdown form but felt that we played really well in that period to the point where I think we would have brushed Spurs aside at that point.
 

Zen86

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Yeah I mean the people who seriously thought Ole just came in and clapped his hands and cheered the team on were brain dead.
Indeed, no surprise to not see them posting in here :rolleyes:

It highlights the dreadful lack of squad depth that Mourinho left us. Our form has obviously been very inconsistent but our slumps have often coincided with injuries to key players, and having no like-for-like replacement for those players has practically put us back to the drawing board tactically. I found it fascinating how important say, Shaw was to our play at times.
 

NinjaZombie

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Brendan Rodgers talked a lot of bs in that Liverpool documentary but I agreed with him when he said being a manager was like trying to build an airplane while it was flying and this 5 part series of articles is a a good example of how true that is.
 

Zlatan 7

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Very good read.

Gary Neville has alluded to this press before. To the untrained eye it actually seems as if Rashford is lazy however Rashford is anything but lazy. He’s been asked to do this to allow the opponents to come out so we can counter them from the mcfred press, something fergie did very well especially in 2013.

I think every fan now knows that Ole is a pragmatic manager, we can play in different ways and recently now our mentality has improved we are braver with our play, no more back 3’s.

Ole has great leadership qualities and he adapts to change and problems very well too. I also think his character will change as his grip on the club grows, he will still be mellow but will certainly become more and more assertive.
Nice post bud, I agree with it all
 

DRJosh

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Possibly one of the most evidence based and succinct summaries of Ole’s contribution to United. Imagine the possibilities if we had a better passer of the ball in MCT and/or Fred, with the mid-block approach. At the moment it’s an either-or-situation with the pressing intensity of Fred/MCT or the passing prowess of Pogba/Matic.

Really hope we get a proper right winger soon too.
 

youngrell

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Thanks for posting, very enjoyable read.

For those dismissing Mata (and Pogba somewhat) as key players, they have been key to the side when we play the Fred/McTominay midfield, because they come back and inside to help shift the ball forward. Of course Mata has played less but he's mostly contributed very well when he has played this season.

I'm not sure if Pogba's early season form was Covid or motivation related (or both), but I hope that now he's fit and his head is clear he can continue to contribute as well as he has been recently.
 

The Urban Goose

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Great read. Managing a top football club is a lot more difficult than it seems! :lol:
But but surely all good management involves is throwing teacups, attacking the press in press conferences and shouting from the touchline? #OleOut #PEteacher #Whatpatternsofplay?
 

ROFLUTION

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When you look at the various teams over these "5 eras" it really becomes clear as day, what crap material Ole has had to work and deal with. Good and understandable that he's been pragmatic.
 

Crashoutcassius

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Interesting recap and fairplay to the author

Some slightly naive analysis, and really letting the narrative bend and wind around different things, which is an easy trap to fall into.

Slight over reliance on injuries to explain absolutely everything, but it does well to highlight how imperfect the squad Ole has had to work with and how crazy the summer that we only bought Dan James up front was. Still so much work to do on this squad.

Compared to the analysis that you see by pundits on tv it is incredible, and probably the best analysis i have actually seen on a united managers tenure
 

Physiocrat

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Compared to the analysis that you see by pundits on tv it is incredible, and probably the best analysis i have actually seen on a united managers tenure
Truth. I wish there were more articles like this. Fair play to the author.
 

King7Eric

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Indeed, no surprise to not see them posting in here :rolleyes:

It highlights the dreadful lack of squad depth that Mourinho left us. Our form has obviously been very inconsistent but our slumps have often coincided with injuries to key players, and having no like-for-like replacement for those players has practically put us back to the drawing board tactically. I found it fascinating how important say, Shaw was to our play at times.
I've always thought, more than Pogba or Martial or McT, it's Shaw who gets the most unfair treatment from our fans. He is extremely vital to our play and his technical abilities, his first touch and the ability to pick out an infield pass are among the best of any FBs in the league. Yes, he might not be the best crosser, like a Reguillon, but then we hardly ever play with a CF who will benefit from those crosses. Cavani might but he's not a long-term solution here. Shaw is fantastic at creating space for the likes of Rashford as well as knowing exactly when to tuck into the middle when we are short through the center. Add to that he's a fantastic one on one defender and I struggle to see why he receives so much criticism. Seeing Telles play at LB really highlights the massive gulf in quality between the two.
 

RedDevilzFox

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Very good read! It's clear Ole has his own ideas and he is not as tactically clueless as some make him out to be. He played under fergie for years under winning sides, so I am sure he knows a thing or two about management and not just the people side. If there is still a question mark its his in game management, but the results are coming so who am I to argue. Lets hope we can win the PL this year and truly put the fergie era behind us.
 

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Olecurls99

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I think you have to play Pogba against Liverpool. In big games you need players who can win a match for you, and if we really want go for the 3 points and go right at Liverpool (which we should considering their form and backline is constantly changing) then we can't afford just playing McFred and reverting back to hit and hope tactics to steal the game.

I'd go: AWB, Bailly, Maguire, Shaw/ Fred, Pogba, McT, Bruno/ Martial, Rashford

We could potentially play Cavani through the middle and drop McT for a set up more similar to the Sevilla game in the Semi-Final, but I don't see Ole being that bold going away from home to Anfield and knowing realistically that a point is fine at this stage.
I think we should go for it and try and make a statement to ourselves and the league. Let Rashford at Arnold, let Martial at the centre halves and have Pogba stage his attacks from the right. Scotty can cover the Robertson forays and likewise Fred with the other side.

Smashing article which really explains what Ole has had to deal with. We're definitely going in the right direction.
 

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Confirms a lot of what I already appreciated in Ole. He's moved mountains to get us where we are right now, under intense pressure with people also placing question marks on him, he's dealt with that incredibly well, he's never once shown that it's getting to him.

I really hope Ed and the board really back him so he can finish this team and make up for the awful previous transfer window they provided.