When Sir Alex Ferguson arrived at United in 1986, he had one goal in mind, go after Liverpool. From 1986 to 1991 he laid the foundation to do exactly that. In 1992, the soccer world was introduced to Fergie’s “Class Of ‘92” David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes,
Gary Neville, and Phil Neville. 6 young footballers who had been groomed under Ferguson’s Manchester United Youth Academy.
The combination of homegrown talent and dynamic superstar players like Eric Cantona, Roy Keane, Andy Cole and Teddy Sheringham proved to be the perfect mixt. United began chipping away at Liverpool’s record-setting 18 titles while the Reds remained frozen in 1989. With the winning formula in place, Sir Alex and Manchester United went on a jaw dropping, mind blowing, 21 year reign of dominance. Dominance with a BIG D!
13 Premier League titles (putting United at a record 20 total while Liverpool remains in 1989 at 18 titles), 5 FA Cups, 2 UEFA Champions League titles, 11 other domestic titles, and top 2 finishes in the Premier League 18 of 21 years between 1992 through 2013. The only thing that could stop Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson was Sir Alex Ferguson himself. In 2013, he did just that when he stepped down after winning his 13th and final League title.
Since then, it seems as if United has been wondering in purgatory, lost without an identity. Ferguson hand picked David Moyes as his replacement, but after only a season, Moyes was out after only a couple months into his second season. Up next was Louis Van Gaal, a proven manager at top European clubs but a shadow of Sir Alex. Old Trafford was too much for the dutchman and he was out in 2 seasons. If Ferguson’s hand picked man and Van Gaal couldn’t do it, there was only one man who could fix United from becoming Liverpool, a historic relevant club haunted by its past success.
Enter in “The Special One” Jose Mourinho. Manchester United knew what they were getting with Mourinho, a short term fix. He got a domestic cup and a UEFA Europa League Cup in his first year. Second place finish in Premier League in year 2, But just like everywhere else he’s coached, drama always surrounds Mourinho. Even with the success in his first 2 years, the joy that was within Manchester United’s DNA under Fergie had completely evaporated. By December the writing was on the wall. On the 18th of December 2018, Manchester United fired Jose Mourinho two days after a 3-1 embarrassing loss to Liverpool and the club’s worst ever Premier League start. On December 19th, United appointed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as the club’s caretaker manager for the remainder of the season. Solskjaer was part of the legendary United teams in the late ‘90s and ‘00s. While at United, he became a super-sub specialist that would come in late and miraculously find a way to score goals in the final minutes of games (Fergie Time). Ole Gunnar immortalized his name in the 1999 Champions League final when he scored the game winning goal in the final minute of the game, completing the only Tremble in English soccer history. it is only fitting that Man United is yet to lose a game under Solskjaer. They have won 8 games and tied last 1, in a remarkably insane 2-goal comeback in the final minutes that reminded United fans of “Fergie Time” as they sang Ole’s song that they used to sing when he scored late goals during his playing days at Old Trafford.
Since taking over, Manchester United is playing inspired soccer, with so much joy, freedom and a sense of purpose, which has been missing since Sir Alex’s retirement. If Solskjaer maintains this, he just might the man for this job.