It has just been a little over three months since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took charge at Manchester United following the sacking of Jose Mourinho.
In those 90 odd days, the Norwegian has turned around the atmosphere at Old Trafford in spectacular fashion with the dark clouds which hovered during Mourinho’s third season making way for the promise of a brighter future.
Solskjaer’s tenure so far has been nothing short of extraordinary with a top-four Premier League finish which looked to be out of United’s grasp now firmly in sight despite some recent setbacks.
It all started with a 11-game unbeaten run across all competitions with the party mood which was a common occurrence during Sir Alex Ferguson’s rein very much returning to Old Trafford.
The former striker’s legendary status at United was taken up a notch further during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie against Paris Saint-Germain where the Red Devils became the first club in history to advance after being beaten by a two-goal margin in the first-leg held at home.
Nearly everything Solskjaer has touched since his arrival bar Alexis Sanchez has turned into gold with Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford and even Romelu Lukaku roaring back into form while young Scott McTominay has stepped up big time during the time of injury crisis.
It is no surprise then to see Solskjaer appointed full time on a three-year contract with Ole firmly at the wheel.
However, recent setbacks including consecutive defeats against Wolves in the FA Cup and Premier League have taken some sheen off the Norwegian’s fairytale tenure. Coupled with a defeat against Arsenal previously, United now find themselves in real danger of missing out on Champions League football next season.
As such, the upcoming quarter-final clash against a Lionel Messi powered Barcelona assumes even greater significance for United and their much beloved manager. With question marks and small doubts starting to creep in based on recent displays, Solskjaer and the club need to make a statement, and a big one at that.
Barcelona would have been the team United would have least fancied facing before the draw was made but in Solskjaer’s own words, ‘mountains are meant to be climbed’.