TV View: Solskjær’s Midas touch fails to rub off on European stage
Skies turn a little grey again above Old Trafford as PSG tear up script
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær shakes David De Gea’s hand at the end of the Champions League first leg tie against Paris Saint-Germain at Old Trafford. Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty Images
It was on December 19th in the year of our Solskjær 2018 that the Glazer family said ‘let there be light’, and with that the Ole lad returned to Manchester as in-betweeny manager and ever since he’s been spreading nothing but sunshine, making folk down Old Trafford way happy during a spell when skies have, on the whole, been severely grey.
But could anyone, as Paul Ince has argued, have managed to turn such darkness in to light by simply releasing the handbrake on the bus, going mad by selecting the best players in the squad for the first XI, playing them in their correct positions, asking them to move in a forwards direction when in possession and requesting that they attempt to score actual goals? And, above all, hugging Paul Pogba? And, somehow, making Anthony Martial smile?
“Well,” Gary Lineker asked Ince when he turned up on BT Sport’s panel, Rio Ferdinand and Owen Hargreaves having a right old chuckle at the fella’s prior assertion that even he, or Steve Bruce (!), could have achieved this very same mother-of-all-turn-a-rounds.
Incey donned a ‘what I meant was . . . ’ face, not a hint of the Big Time Charlie about the fella, and conceded that Ole Ole Ole had done more than well.
And the players wanted him as their permanent gaffer too, he said. Like they’d say, ‘naw, he’s a Small Time Charlie – I’d prefer Potch’.
Over on RTÉ, meanwhile, Damien Duff was scoffing at the notion that anybody at all could have applied such a Midas-y touch as Ole, reckoning that if the job was that easy he and Darragh Maloney would have been appointed gaffer and assistant gaffer. Darragh looked excited, if a little sceptical, about the career switch, but brushed it off before introducing RTÉ’s online poll.
‘What does OGS need to do to get the job permanently?
(1) He’s done enough already.
(2) Needs to win a trophy.
(3) Needs to finish in top 4.
(4) Not the right choice.
Damien, Didi Hamman and Liam Brady were all edging towards (1), although Liam told us that United had yet to face a stern test under Ole, thereby dissing Arsenal, of all people (1-3 losers at home to United in the FA Cup) and Spurs (David de Gea beating them 1-0 at Wembley last month).
And while Damien predicted that United would “blow PSG away” he doffed his cap to Kylian Mbappe. “I think when Messi finally hangs up his boots, Mbappe will be crowned best player in the world – I think he’ll be winning Ballon d’Ors week in, week out,” he said of the, well, annual award.
Back on BT they were focusing on Ole’s success in bringing the best out of Pogba, Rashford and Martial, all the while missing the fact that he’d turned Victor Lindelof in to something resembling the love child of Franco Baresi and Paul McGrath. Not even Matt Busby had anything as extraordinary as that on his CV.
Time for a quick tribute to the late and very great Gordon Banks. “A lot of people have been knighthooded who didn’t deserve to be knighthooded, but he certainly deserved to be knighthooded,” said Incey. “Eh, thanks,” said Gary.
Would it be a case of ‘arise Sir Ole’ come the end of the season? Well, the odds stretched a little by the time PSG were 2-0 up after an hour, Lindelof resembling the love child of Alan Kernaghan and William Prunier, light descending in to darkness all over again, the 104-year-old Gianluigi Buffon twiddling his thumbs from all the inactivity.
Jose Mourinho was possibly emitting an evil-sh giggle from the vantage point of his latest gig, host of a Russia Today Champions League show, maybe even stressing the beauty of bus-parking.
“Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s honeymoon period is well and truly over,” said Damien, by now half suspecting that Molde would have their manager back soon.
“They’re a long, long way off, they need a lot of renovation,” said Liam, leaving you wondering if it’s Dermot Bannon who’s the answer, rather than Ole. Whatever, there’s room to improve.
The skies? A bit grey again.