The Rebuttal: 40-year Solskjaer truth 'beautiful, not ugly'


A contentious call concerning Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's managerial imprint on Manchester United drew a range of responses from his supporters last week, with some plausible enough for further exploration.

The World Game's Debate piece surrounding Solskjaer's results thus far highlighted that, statistically, he is the worst United manager since Dave Sexton some 40 years ago.

With the likes of Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho and David Moyes posting a more positive return at the club - and the latter in less-afforded time - such a verdict suggested the Norwegian's legendary status at Old Trafford had helped keep him in command.

However, not all agreed, and now The World Game fans have the chance to witness their rebuttals responded to, in what will conclude the first of an interactive series surrounding football's most talked-about topics.

Moyes wins hands down - for now

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Indeed, Sir Alex Ferguson's successor at United lasted just 10 months in charge, and failed to defend the Premier League crown in the 2013-14 season.

But while that may suggest his squad was 'more talented' than Solskjaer's current crop, further inspection perhaps proves otherwise.

Of all Ferguson's title-winning teams, his 2012-13 iteration were distinctly void of their usual quality and served as one final example of the Scot's brilliant man management.

With an ageing old guard nearing retirement, it was the ever-present Michael Carrick alongside the likes of Ashley Young, Tom Cleverley, Nani and Antontio Valencia in midfield, while Jonny Evans and Rafael joined veterans Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra in defence.

Instead of 'alienating' such a squad - spearheaded by Robin van Persie - Moyes retained their services, only to realise the reality of their collective regression, before van Gaal cleared the majority out in 2014.

Despite the arrival of Daniel James, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Harry Maguire and Bruno Fernandes, Solskjaer could do with further recruitment, even if the £187 million (A$359 million) already spent exceeds Moyes' allowance by some £119 million (A$228 million).

That being said, the 47-year-old has hit the mark with each one, and therefore should be trusted to continue adding to his collection.

The squad isn't his yet

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It's an argument long-used in football fraternities, designed to defend incoming managers but ironically, not all of them.

Despite moving 20 players on prior to the 2019-20 season, and spending almost £200 million (A$384 million) on arrivals, the main defence of Solskjaer's record revolves around his squad and its "rebuild".

And yet, such an argument was absent for the aforementioned Moyes, who had signed a six-year deal in acknowledgement of its very necessity at the club. 

"I think I was unfairly treated ... if I knew I was only going to have 10 months and not six years, I might not have taken my time," Moyes told Goals on Sunday in 2016.

"It was going to take a little bit of time to change things round. There was rebuilding to be done. 

"I was fortunate to take over the champions from Sir Alex Ferguson, but I think that team had probably had its journey and was going to need change... but when you are given six years, you expect to be given that."

It is this inconsistency that created this debate, which leaves us to wonder how much more time Moyes would have gotten had he, too, been a part of United's storied history.

The truth is 'beautiful, not ugly'

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The World Game - Facebook

Contrary to the Debate's original verdict, Solskjaer's future at United has the potential to improve due to his "drive, passion and determination to get us back to our best."

The potent super-sub has a special affinity for the club and knows what it takes to succeed.

Should he achieve as much at the managerial level, perhaps then this 'ugly' truth might well have been 'beautiful' all along.