What now for Solskjaer and Manchester United?
Manchester United fans were given great news on Thursday, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was officially appointed as permanent manager on a three-year contract.
This appointment was imminent, given the great start that the Norwegian has had to his managerial career at United, yet many still did not expect the announcement until the end of the season. However, this announcement might have come at the perfect time, after United suffered two consecutive defeats, against Arsenal in the league, and against Wolves in the FA Cup, with the hope that this may bring back the excitement and good spirit that has been present during much of Solskjaer's time at United.
However, there are several key decisions that have to be made, by the whole club.
First of all, the board have to back Solskjaer in the transfer market. During every transfer market, the media constantly links Manchester United to several players in world football, most of the time being high-profile players that will end up costing the club a hefty amount. The board has to try and support Solskjaer, unlike how they did with Jose Mourinho during last summer, with the Portuguese manager making it evident on a number of occasions that the team desperately needed a centre-back, with the likes of Kalidou Koulibaly and Milan Skriniar all being mentioned, yet neither of which ever came to the club.
Solskjaer made it clear on Thursday that he has plenty of transfer targets on his mind, saying that "There are so many players that have been written about that we're interested in and I'm sure when we decide what we have to do, hopefully we'll get them by pre-season." Whilst United's first eleven is very strong, there are several positions that need strengthening, both with regards to depth, and also when it comes to slotting straight into the eleven. A centre-back has to be the first position to be fulfilled, with Koulibaly and Skriniar still being mentioned in the papers, yet they will come at a very high price. Apart from this, a right winger and a young defensive midfielder are also needed, with Nemanja Matic and Juan Mata getting older, and Alexis Sanchez not proving as of yet that he is Manchester United quality.
Secondly, Solskjaer must learn to adapt more to the game. Whilst he has shown that he is capable of making some very bold decisions when it comes to substitutions and team-selections, he has also often been found out when it comes to key decisions, with the prime examples being the decision to bring on Jesse Lingard against Liverpool when he was evidently still injured, and another example being his recent line-up against Wolves, containing four players that were still coming back from injury, and they were clearly off the pace during the match.
However, Solskjaer will be guided by the very experienced Mike Phelan when it comes to such decisions, bringing me to another key decision that the board must undertake, that of securing Phelan's services for good. Phelan is currently also acting as sporting director for A-League side Central Coast Mariners, even whilst serving as an assistant to Solskjaer. The experienced coach has been a great helping hand to the Norwegian, with Solskjaer saying that "Mick is a key part of the set-up", and also talked about how he is helping him implement Sir Alex Ferguson's style of play into the current squad even more.
Finally, it is all down to the players themselves. After they were given the massive opportunity to play freely and without the shackles that Mourinho had imposed on them, they must stake a claim as to why most of them are deemed as some of the world's best. Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, and several others that were repeatedly frustrated under the previous management, must now show what they are worth. Yes many of them showed this at the start of Solskjaer's time as manager, but they must now start to provide output on a more consistent basis.
Whatever the end result of Solskjaer's appointment, the club is clearly heading in the right direction, after years of turmoil both off the pitch and on it. The Theatre of Dreams might finally be dreaming of titles once again.