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Coaching

We've had a lot of discussion about United's coaching. At one end of the spectrum we have the #OleOut notion that Ole's United doesn't have a tactical system, and we leave it up to expensive players to improvise, and that all of his coaches are useless because our football is bad. I've often taken issue with these assumptions, which isn't to say there isn't a kernel of truth in them. We don't appear to be as reliant as e.g. a Guardiola team on drilling specific patterns of attacking play. And as far as we know, Ole isn't an obsessive formations geek the way other head coaches are. But generally these discussions have been couched in conjecture, as we don't know a lot about how are coaching is run and the roles of individual coaches.

A new article published by The Athletic is really enlightening in this context. It's a really good piece of journalism, and essential reading if you're a subscriber. (I signed up for £1 / month for 6 months when they had an offer during the Euros, and I'll miss it when it hikes up back to the usual price.) https://theathletic.com/2882153/2021/10/12/underrated-out-of-his-depth-or-somewhere-in-between-inside-solskjaers-role-at-manchester-united/

Some key take-aways:

- Solskjaer, generally drawing on the lessons of Fergie's United, operates a lot more like a 'general manager' than comparable coaches of direct rivals.
- As perhaps follows from this, he takes a comparatively collegiate approach to coaching and tactics.
- More on this 'collegiate' approach: Solskjaer is active in bringing in skills to fill gaps in expertise. In this context, the article references the recruitment of Eric Ramsay as specialist set-piece coach and our first ever data science lead, Dominic Jordan, appointed last week, who will be tasked with identifying areas where incremental gains can be made. A little detail: 'In the dugout during matches, Ramsay and goalkeeping coach Hartis carry folders detailing the pattern of play, likely substitutions, and how the opposition’s game is likely to change when certain substitutions are made.'
- Carrick and McKenna tend to run training sessions Carrick is said to be adept at spotting details and influencing players with an arm-around-the-shoulder and a one-to-one chat. McKenna is highly rated as a coach, though there are questions about his charisma in terms of his long-term potential to be a major head-coach. There have been suggestions that some players feel training sessions could be led by coaches with more elite-level experience than those two.
- Solskjaer and Phelan have a more high-level role. According to the article: 'The plans for training sessions are run past both Solskjaer and 59-year-old Phelan, now into his fourth decade of coaching, who observe and interject when appropriate.'

There's lots of useful detail in the piece, which I won't attempt to comprehensively reproduce here. As I say, well worth reading if you have access. And I think it gives us the starting point for a more factual basis than we've had before to discuss our coaching, diagnose issues, and pinpoint potential solutions.

On the key picture of Solskjaer's role as a manager of multiple specialists, I think we can take this in different ways. It's clear that he doesn't impose a tactical vision / direction in the same way that Tuchel or Klopp would. That can be a disadvantage if it leads to a lack of a sense of purpose, or if you get a muddle of different inputs, decision by committee, etc. The flip side is that (as we saw with Fergie) not having a dogmatic tactical approach led by a 'strong' head coach can lead to flexibility and adaptability over time.

This also feeds into the criteria we apply to hold him to account. If you have a dictatorial manager like LVG and his approach fails, that's clearly the end of the line because the manager = the approach; if a pragmatic manager whose job is to import and deploy the right skills is failing, there's always an argument that with the right hires, and a change of ideas, the footballing outcomes can change. That's not to give Solskjaer a get-out-of-jail card. It just means he doesn't need to be as sophisticated a theorist as Guardiola to be Manchester United manager; rather, he needs to be judged on whether he's succeeding in importing world-class skills and world-beating ideas, blending them effectively and ensuring the players effectively embody those ideas on the pitch. Ultimately, the strategy lives and dies, as it did with Fergie, based on the quality of the input from the team around him and the ability of the manager to channel that effectively. And of course as we stand Solskjaer's outfit ain't Fergie's outfit.

posted 6 days, 19 hours ago

comment by The Post Nearly Man. Ex Lion Tamer. (U1270)
posted 4 minutes ago
"Boss, he keeps picking Fred"

"Don't go public yet, Cristiano, we're compiling a dossier"
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We have some weapons on here don't we?

posted 6 days, 19 hours ago

comment by Elvis: King of Cult (U7425)
posted 1 minute ago
comment by The Post Nearly Man. Ex Lion Tamer. (U1270)
posted 4 minutes ago
"Boss, he keeps picking Fred"

"Don't go public yet, Cristiano, we're compiling a dossier"
----------------------------------------------------------------------


We have some weapons on here don't we?
---------------------------------------------------------------------

comment by Don (U22703)

posted 6 days, 19 hours ago

comment by Roy's Keane (U11635)
posted 4 minutes ago
comment by Elvis: King of Cult (U7425)
posted 1 minute ago
comment by The Post Nearly Man. Ex Lion Tamer. (U1270)
posted 4 minutes ago
"Boss, he keeps picking Fred"

"Don't go public yet, Cristiano, we're compiling a dossier"
----------------------------------------------------------------------


We have some weapons on here don't we?
---------------------------------------------------------------------


----------------------------------------------------------------------

😄

posted 6 days, 18 hours ago

I see weapon number 1 is laughing at himself



posted 6 days, 18 hours ago

Regarding Ronaldo, people have a point about him possibly losing Ole his job. He’s just come from a club where an overpromoted club legend didn’t exactly succeed. When he stormed off the pitch the other day he knew what he was doing. Obviously I very much doubt he wants Ole out and is a superb professional but if Ole keeps making the same strange decisions week in, week out it’s not a stretch of the imagination to see Ronaldo do more public spats and put pressure on the manager to do better.

I doubt he joined us to see top 4 as a successful season. He’s a winner and while I totally understand those who say he wasn’t really the signing we needed - and as excited as I was at the time of us signing him, I said at the time it was a pointless signing considering we’d just bought Sancho and had loads of other options - the guy comes with baggage and it will be a test to see how Ole handles him.

posted 6 days, 18 hours ago

But we’ve all enjoyed shouting SIUUUUU when he scores.

posted 6 days, 18 hours ago

Signing Sancho doesn’t really matter with regard to Ronaldo, though. It was obviously an opportunistic signing, but one that makes sense for a number of reasons - particularly whether we can rely on the options we already had for strikers.

Signing Ronaldo increases the pressure of Ole, but because of the expectations rather than him getting him sacked. He didn’t get Pirlo sacked, the results did. And Ronaldo was sold anyway so it’s not like he was being appeased.

posted 6 days, 17 hours ago

I doubt Ronaldo will be starting at the weekend anyway, as he seems to have insisted on staying on the full 90 tonight to get a hattrick against Luxembourg 🤣

comment by Don (U22703)

posted 6 days, 16 hours ago

comment by merrysupersteve (monitoring the situation) (U1132)
posted 1 hour ago
I doubt Ronaldo will be starting at the weekend anyway, as he seems to have insisted on staying on the full 90 tonight to get a hattrick against Luxembourg 🤣
----------------------------------------------------------------------

Guarantee he starts

posted 6 days, 14 hours ago

comment by Don Draper's dandruff (U20155)
posted 9 hours, 55 minutes ago
comment by Robbb (U22716)
posted 6 minutes ago
Regarding the coaching, it’s interesting that I’d never assume Ole (not an attack on him) would ever change his assistant manager like SAF did. If he’s still at the club next season can anyone envisage a scenario where he brings in a McClaren or Rene equivalent? Or is Phelan there for life?
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the other obvious question is when did saf step back from more hands on coaching at united? because it wasn't back in 1989 for sure, that's more the kind of thing i associate with a manager who's already been there for a decade or more.

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Yeah as I was reading the OP with all the SAF references I was thinking the same.


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