Great clubs have great leaders. Before Ole Gunnar Solskjær, United lacked direction in the leadership department. No one has been able to control the United locker room since Wayne Rooney and Zlatan Ibrahimović moved on from the club.
Ole’s commitment to change the culture at Manchester United requires three steps. First removing the toxic “deadwood” players from the club. Secondly, bringing talent into the squad through the transfer market and youth academy. The final step is bringing in role players who care more about the badge than the attention that comes with United.
Since Ole Gunnar Solskjær took charge of United in December of 2018, Manchester United has offloaded a cohort of players. The most notable example on the list is Alexis Sanchez. The current Inter winger, Sanchez, never found his footing at United and caused morale issues in the dressing room. The problems began shortly after Sanchez signed for United during a training ground scuffle. According to The Athletic, then youth player, Mason Greenwood, got into a grapple with Sanchez. After the incident, Ole Gunnar encouraged completion at the club by backing Greenwood instead of his ‘star player’ in Sanchez.
While Sanchez takes the most attention on this topic, Ole has settled other locker room conflicts and is in the process of removing players with improper attitudes. In an interview with Sky Sports, former United player, Romelu Lukaku, opened up on how Ole reacted to his bad run of form. Lukau said, “The manager (Ole), he tells it straight to your face if you’re doing well or wrong. He does it to everybody, it doesn’t matter who you are. Everybody is equal. You work hard, you train hard and you play. If you don’t do what he says, you don’t play. You know where you stand – and that’s what I respect about him.” That strength from a manager is what molds good players into great ones.
Leaders in the Dressing Room
Ole’s transfer philosophy is simple: sign players who crave playing for the badge and can be skilled enough for the team. Those players include Bruno Fernandes, Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, and others. All three of the players mentioned above revived United last season and helped the squad achieve a top-four finish and qualify for the Champions League.
Harry Maguire gained the captaincy at Manchester United only months after signing for the club. With Harry on the pitch, United achieved thirteen clean sheets in the league. Maguire also made no errors leading to goals in the Premier League last season, while featuring in every single game.
Bruno Fernandes should be in a category of his own. Since signing for United, his form has been impeccable. In fourteen Premier League games, Bruno scored eight goals and assisted seven. Meaning, he averages 1.07 goal contributions per game. Before he arrived, United struggled on the ball, but since he signed, United have looked much more fluid.
In his final step of changing the culture at United, Ole has focused on bringing in the right type of role players. Daniel James and Odion Ighalo both exemplify this strategy. However, the best player to prove this is recent signing, Donny van de Beek.
Coming from Ajax, van de Beek, is a player full of all-around talent. United struggled with midfield depth last season, specifically at Creative Attacking Midfielder. This season, van de Beek will add a layer of quality to the United midfield by being the main cover for Bruno and Pogba. If van de Beek works out for Manchester United, Ole will be sure to continue his process and lead the club into a bright future.
Glory Glory Man United.
Written by CJ Szaz,