Well, what a game yesterday, and what a performance from Sheffield United.
I see a lot of impatience from supporters when it comes to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and the job he is doing. It is not easy for him because being at Manchester United means you get evaluated and criticised on a game-by-game basis and most people know that the job he is doing is going to take time.
People want instant success and they want it with the culture of everything good that United stand for, but as I’ve said so many times over the years, you can’t just say it’s the case and then make it so. It takes time, patience and a little bit of luck.
Yesterday’s game, despite the various disappointments, was an example of all of that. Brandon Williams didn’t have the best game of his young career but he was kept on and scored a vital goal. Mason Greenwood has been used sensibly and came on to score. Some people would still rather Sanchez or Lukaku had been kept at the club; hopefully, though, United will stand to benefit more in the long term from Greenwood’s experiences this season. Yesterday was not a great showing for most of the game, but it was nonetheless a good experience for these young lads who contributed so much to a positive response.
They were the bright spot of a game which looked pretty poor, I must admit, in a classic match of two halves. United were awful in the first half and although some of that was down to having a threadbare midfield, the defending was poor and I saw strikers only interested in playing for themselves when their teammates desperately needed them.
When Ole made the changes, United bucked up their ideas and got a positive result from a game where it looked like they might lose, and lose heavily.
If they had lost, predictably the press would have been on Ole’s back. But I’ll say this for sure — however tough it is at the minute, this is much more the United way of doing things than it was under Mourinho. Ole has made mistakes, he’ll continue to make mistakes, nobody is perfect. But he is trying to win games, trying to do it with exciting players, and he is bringing through young players at the club.
Of course it’s Mauricio Pochettino and not Jose Mourinho that people will be mentioning when it comes to Ole’s job being under pressure.
Nothing really surprises me in football anymore, but I’m relatively amazed that Daniel Levy made the decision he did last week — I would have been more inclined to invest more time and money in Pochettino, he deserved it after the work he has done on the budget he has had. Now Jose has come in and will spend to take advantage of a stable set up in London. How long will everything be rosy in that garden?
I just hope people continue to give Ole time to do his work. There is no guarantee it’s going to go right in the long term but the sort of team spirit that was shown from the kids in getting a turnaround result yesterday is the sort of thing that takes time to work on.
We have to believe in young players and we have to continue moving on the players who are just not good enough to play for the club anymore.
I’m not blind, it’s not perfect. I wonder and I doubt that the coaching staff around Ole are tactically good enough to manage at this level. I wonder that about Ole himself. We got out of jail yesterday but football is about the right preparation as much as it is the right reaction and against better opponents, we won’t be so lucky to still be in a game after being exposed like we were.
Patience then becomes the key word in seeing how it will unfold – will Ole get that?