Paul Parker: PSG setback doesn't stop Solskjaer being right man for job after working 'miracle'
Paul Parker says Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is still on course to be the permanent manager of Manchester United, despite defeat against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League last 16 first leg.
Yes, Manchester United lost against PSG. But overall it's still a good start under interim boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. He has won 10 games, and drew one, prior to the Champions League defeat. Would they have got anywhere near that before he came in? No.
They would have lost at least one, but, more importantly, would have been grinding games out and nicking points. It’s about the style of performance as well as results. Previously they were failing in games that a club of their stature should not be.
And when it came to the big matches the attitude was about not being beaten, but now things have changed. United will go in against Chelsea in the FA Cup on Monday, followed by a massive game at home to Liverpool on the Saturday after in a more positive set up. Then there is the small matter of a Manchester derby in March.
Prior to Solskjaer taking over, no-one had any aspirations of beating PSG because it was inevitable they would go into that game with a negative attitude and try to scrape over the line like they did against Young Boys. Remember it was Fellaini who scored the late goal there – he has now gone, which tells you something.
Don't blame Pogba
You can't blame Paul Pogba for his red card, either. It was not a second yellow card. It was not reckless, it was poor refereeing to send him off for that. We are falling into a trap and trying to find fault with the Frenchman because he’s showing a bit of form and perhaps should have been doing so earlier in the season.
Paul Pogba sees red against PSGGetty Images
But that was a lot to do with poor man-management and he stood up to it. I believe a lot of players would be thanking him for doing what he did on their behalf as he ended up getting them out of a bad situation. Now every player feels better in themselves.
In the second leg, against PSG, they might go into it with a better mentality as they have nothing to lose and have a target to chase. They have to score – and score first – that would make such a difference.
And their next game is another big game, which helps. So they can get out of that mindset against Chelsea – there is silverware to be won.
Top four would seal job for Solskjaer
I still think there’s a very, very good chance of Ole Gunnar getting the manager's job on a permanent basis.
A new man coming in definitely makes a difference in general, you can’t argue with that. It freshens things up. But to get what Solskjaer has out of that team, 11 games unbeaten, you can’t just say it doesn’t matter who comes in. It’s how he is running the team, his attitude and how he conducts himself and manages the players.
And he’s done it the right way and put the right people around him. And the players have to want to work for their new boss as well.
Solskjaer has fitted the bill and got the squad smiling and looking forward to their day of work. Sure, you might have had a bounce for a couple of results. But not for such a sustained run – that doesn’t happen, it takes much more.
He’s there on merit. So to say absolutely anyone could have come in and done the job he has is tosh.
Hardest part still to come
Top four should be enough for Solskjaer to keep the job. And you have to believe, even if they had won nothing else, Mourinho would have expected to keep his job if he had secured another Champions League position.
But for Solskjaer, he needs everything around him to be right: the coaching staff and the scouting to help him get the players that the club should be flirting with. Because, don’t forget, we saw last night they are possibly two midfield players short and three defenders shy of the standard required.
PSG was an expected setback, even with United's run of form, and it also shows up their deficiencies against the very top teams. You can see where the weaknesses were. But for anyone to think that not winning that game affects Solskjaer’s job in the long term are guessing.