By PARTH SONECHA,
deputy sports editor
Manchester United fans are rejoicing that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be at the wheel for the next three years – if everything goes to plan.
The club recently announced that the interim boss and club legend had been given the permanent managerial job.
When Solskjaer took over from Jose Mourinho, he realised why he had been appointed in the first place.
United, the most successful club in Britain, had lost their ethos. All of their core traditions had made way for pragmatism under Mourinho, something which hurt both the club legends sitting in the TV studios and the fans.
Old Trafford, once regarded as a fortress, had become a "theatre of nightmares" for United players under Mourinho, as they and their charismatic leader on the pitch, Paul Pogba, failed to cope with or understand Mourinho’s demands.
It has been a very different story with Solskjaer so far. Pogba looks rejuvenated, Marcus Rashford isn’t afraid anymore, and Anthony Martial is keen to beat everyone on the dribble. Even the much-maligned defender Victor Lindelöf has looked so much better under United’s new management.
However, there is a question that begs to be asked: why are the same players who couldn’t raise their games under Mourinho looking so good under Solskjaer?
Surely, confidence is a factor. Mourinho’s constant singling out of individuals certainly didn’t help team morale.
Luke Shaw and Martial can attest to that. Shaw’s quality of play was publicly criticised by the Portuguese while Martial was completely frozen out of the picture for not tracking back consistently enough.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan was frozen out for similar reasons after one half in the Manchester derby, before eventually being shipped out in the Sanchez deal.
Solskjaer was a breath of fresh air to players that had been constantly scrutinised by their own boss. But beyond that, is there really that much of a difference?
As everybody knows, interim managers seem to have extended honeymoon periods. The former Chelsea manager Roberto di Matteo followed up a Champions League-winning campaign in 2012 by starting absolutely dreadfully the next season and eventually was fired before he could complete the season.
So how do we know how the players will react to the news that they no longer have to fight to keep Ole at the wheel?
Solskjaer certainly had his job cut out after inheriting a squad that was both top heavy and flawed, and he’s managed to pull off nothing short of a miracle in rejuvenating both the players and the fans.
However, it only gets harder from here. He must deal with players that have a history of complacency and challenge them to be the best version of themselves every single time they take to the field.
Pogba and Lindelöf are two players who look completely different under the manager, but also represent the task the Norwegian faces now.
Then, there’s the transfer situation. United’s squad is top heavy but still needs a genuine right-winger. There is quite a conundrum here.
By staying true to the club’s hierarchy structure over the years since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, United handed all the power over footballing decisions to the manager in the hopes they would mould the side in their own image.
However, no manager has lasted long enough to achieve that.
A director of football is among the many things needed at Old Trafford to help the new man in the dugout. The team's current form cannot be used to paper over the cracks.
As Solskjaer and United continue to impress, you can see shades of the past in the current United team. Solskjaer, who counts Ferguson as his inspiration, must use every trick he’s learned from the legendary Scotsman to maintain United's current level.
While riding a winning streak, and having a majority of the pundits on his side, Ole has had something of an eased entrance into one of the biggest clubs in the world. It will be interesting to see how he and the players respond when the results don’t go their way.
After that miracle in Paris a few weeks ago, Solskjaer was destined to get the job. However, if he thought getting the job was the hard part, keeping it only gets harder.