If Marcus Rashford’s form under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has not been impressive enough, his social media game has hit new levels since the Norwegian took charge.
Indeed, on Monday, Rashford’s latest post went viral when he tweeted a photo of Solskjaer holding court at United’s warm weather training camp in Dubai as the 21-year-old, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard listened intently.
The caption? ‘Seconds left… Becks whipped in a perfect corner. Teddy flicked it on. The rest is history.’ The post has been re-tweeted 32,000 times and has 122,000 likes. And counting.
Those are the kind of numbers that would make Richard Arnold, United’s managing director, sit up but the photo gives you an insight into Solskjaer’s man management style – and why he has been such a hit with the players.
The 45-year-old has never been afraid to use his own experiences as a player to help guide his squad. If a forward’s nose has been put out of joint after being benched, Solskjaer can point to how many games he changed as a substitute.
If a player is struggling to get his head around a certain drill or team move, Solskjaer can fall back on how he navigated a particular in-game scenario to help them along.
Those experiences helped set Solskjaer apart in his first days as reserve team coach at Carrington alongside Warren Joyce as Mick Clegg, United’s former power and development coach, recalls.
“Warren had the cones all laid out and said, ‘Look, this is the way I want us to play,'” he previously told M.E.N. Sport.
“Ole was listening and listening and said, ‘Stop, let me take over for a second. When I was with Eric Cantona in this particular game this is what I did and then this is what happened’. It was incredible. He was using performance props. It was like something you saw in a film, like the Karate Kid.”
Those same methods are having the desired effect all these years later – United have won their first five games under Solskjaer, scoring 16 goals and keeping back to back clean sheets against Newcastle and Reading.
There have been plenty of smiles, but Solskjaer has encountered different tests along the way. At St James’ Park, for example, United had not scored when they went into half-time level for the first time under their interim manager.
There was no panic though – no radical change of game plan – and Solskjaer made a double substitution that changed the game after the hour mark when he threw on Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez.
Of course, the real test is to come against Spurs at Wembley on Sunday. A game Mike Phelan believes will be a ‘great football match’ and Solskjaer is not about to set his side up to settle for a point.
But how will they cope if Spurs go ahead? United made their name under Jose Mourinho for remarkable comebacks in 2018 and the Portuguese always felt he learnt more from his side going behind.
Take the start United made to last season, their best in a century, following back to back 4-0 wins against West Ham and Swansea.
“The only thing I want to see but I don’t want to see if it happens I want to see the team losing and see the way we emotionally react to it because it’s also another stage to be losing and try to change a result.” Mourinho told reporters after that victory at the Liberty.
“Because, at the moment, everything is going in our favour but it’s not always motorway. You always find difficult roads and road works and you have to be ready.”
Mourinho would eventually get his wish but it soon became his side’s biggest problem in having to go behind to play to their full potential. Already, that does not feel the case with Solskjaer.
Categories: NEWS AND ENTERTAINMENT