Siberian Soapbox

YYYYEEEEESSSSSSSSS!! The parasite is finally gone! Hang on a second, just let me pinch myself… Yep, Jose Mourinho has left Manchester United. Christ on a bike, it feels sensational. Some time ago I had realised the sinking drudgery served up at Old Trafford since Sir Alex Ferguson was the price for two decades of glorious hedonism. Thanks largely to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, that is now in the past.

In a way I liked it. IN A WAY, I said; I’m not an out-and-out masochist. What I mean is that it feels good to have ‘earned’ the good times. Everyone has their own story of how and why they support their club, and none should be sneered at. Mine was fairly mundane: my father was a fan, so I had no choice.

As it turned out, my first ever match came in the 1992/93 season when the agony of 26 title-less years was ended. The thing was, I had barely been conscious of it. To me, this was what football was. 50,000 people, endless electricity, fast-paced free-flowing football, and trophies. Shaking at the prospect of relegation or even going out of business was not something I knew.

Just because I didn’t go through that before finally seeing success flow our way doesn’t make me less worthy a fan. That’s point one of today’s rant, by the way: the snobbery towards other fans. Who the fuck are you to tell someone with fewer matches attended or different time zones they don’t deserve it? That their joy is any less than yours?

Earning joy through suffering

Like I said though, the only way I could justify the post-Fergie shite was by balancing it against the joy. If there was any silver lining, it was that at least I had suffered. Yes, I am well aware other fans have suffered infinitely more. So? I’m not judging or comparing levels of suffering. All I know is that it has not been pleasant, to say the least; now it’s over, it’s liberating.

When Mourinho signed, my late, great mentor and friend Jim Hart warned me this would happen. Jim was Chelsea through and through, having stood in The Shed in the 1980s. As he watched the self-obsessed Portuguese cockroach tear out the soul of the club he loved, chew it up and spit it out again, it pained him in the same way.

Now though, the Baby-faced Assassin is in town. Before we get into the deepest issues at United, let’s focus on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. He’s my mum’s favourite player because of his innocent, boyish expression, but that’s not why I’m delighted. Basics first: he’s here on an interim basis. This is a fact that an endless stream of idiotic morons seem to have forgotten straight off. I love a long rant, but even I don’t have the time or space to address all the brain-dead reaction. I’ll try, though…

“He flopped at Cardiff: what a joke appointment!”

To even have to explain why this is stupid would be patronising to a plank of wood, yet alone a sentient human being. As it turns out, half the Twittersphere doesn’t qualify in this sense. A RELEGATION-THREATENED CARDIFF AND ONE OF THE BIGGEST CLUBS IN THE WORLD AREN’T THE SAME!! Fuck sake man…

He didn’t impress at Cardiff, obviously, but here are a few reasons why that is irrelevant. Firstly, the pressures of relegation on a shoestring budget are insane. Don’t forget that one reason Malky Mackay was sacked was for hoping to spend money in the winter break. Tan had also placed a 23-year-old Kazakh mate of his son in charge of recruitment. You try and keep Cardiff up in that situation.

Secondly, he had managed for only half the time he now has. Semantics perhaps, but he has since guided his Molde side to win their Europa League group ahead of Celtic, Ajax and Fenerbahce. They came within a whisker of knocking Zenit St. Peterburg out in the qualifiers this summer too.

It all smells a bit Brexit-y to me. Failed in English football? Must be shit (while conveniently ignoring his titles and European success at Molde).

Thirdly, this is an interim appointment. It is possible he might be given a permanent contract if he succeeds, but the pressure is, for now, off. Comparing what was a permanent post to a temporary one is nonsensical regardless of the clubs in question.

“What a stupid reason, ‘because he knows the club’..”

Erm, no. Mourinho was a plague who never connected to the fans, despite what a few Instagram whores tried to convince people of. His manner and total disregard for common decency, club ethos or anything but himself was toxic. Solskjaer could hardly be further from the Portuguese.

It’s not about knowing facts and information, but appreciating the honour of being manager. It’s everything from bringing the training ground administrator Norwegian chocolates to putting faith in homegrown players, not undermining them constantly. His humility is something not seen for some time in his position. Although he played for over a decade, for the majority he was not a regular starter. Did he complain? Not once. He cherished the privilege. That matters.

His time as reserve team manager is extremely relevant too, given how he spent time with Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard. Whatever you may think of their social media circus, they are key components to playing attacking football.

“It’s only an emotional decision to appease the fans.”

This I can admit has an element of truth to it: it will appease the fans, and Ed Woodward knows it. Well, it’s about bloody time too after Mourinho, Van Gaal and Moyes! Only a clueless ABU would believe it is the sole reason though. In the context of a short-term solution, that makes a huge difference. The long-term manager arriving in the immediate aftermath of a nuclear fallout has a lot harder job than the one who arrives with a buffer.

Solskjaer has long stated his ambition to manage the club, so will take this period very seriously. He won’t go around ripping up trees in all the wrong places. He will care about his job. He knows full well how important getting the fans onside is for the remainder of this season.

Pochettino, Director of Football and fun

There are far bigger problems that need resolving, but those are slowly being addressed. The intent to sign a Director of Football is far more significant than the interim manager. To his credit, and I detest giving him any, Woodward has already met with Paul Mitchell. Love them or hate them, RB Leipzig are a well-run club. If they hand-pick Mitchell to run their academy and youth recruitment, that’s good enough for me.

More importantly, it is a strong hint at the most open secret in football: Mauricio Pochettino to Old Trafford. Poch has been linked for some time, and has shown he has ambition. Working with Mitchell at Spurs, they know and work together well. Laying the groundwork early is sensible, but even if Pochettino isn’t finally the man, the structure of the club will be updated.

Just to be able to watch my team without the horrible Mourinho-inspired sense of disgust and dread will be phenomenal. The man whose right boot won the treble, who scored countless critical goals, loved United is back. There’s a long way to go, but it’s a fantastic start. Don’t agree? Piss off – you’re wrong.