Fans may be in euphoria over the permanent deal given to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to be manager of Manchester United, but the deal comes after the Red Devils suffered back-to-back losses to arch-rival, Arsenal, and Wolverhampton Wanderers, in the Premier League and FA Cup quarter-final respectively.
The international break has helped the club ride that tide as they aim to return with a bang when they host Watford in the league this weekend before embarking on trip to Molineux a few days later for another daunting match with Wolves, this time in the league.
Results in those games would have a greatly determine how their race to finish in the top four pans out with eight games left in the season. “We’ve given ourselves a great chance to finish in the top four or even top three,” Solskjaer said. “So that’s the short-term target in the league, and the Premier League is vital for us.”
But what’s more, after those games against Watford and Wolves, Solskjaer faces the biggest challenge of his managerial career at Old Trafford when Barcelona come calling on April 10 in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League date.
United barely went past a more fancied Paris Saint-Germain side in the round of 16, needing a late Marcus Rashford penalty to book an unlikely place in the last eight. Against Ernesto Valverde’s Barca, however, the United players would need to step their game up some more.
Solskjaer on his part would be hoping the players go on the kind of run which heralded the start of his interim tenure back in December – Solskjaer became the first ever manager of the club to win his first six matches in charge.
And commenting on that big European night coming up, Solskjaer was defiant as admitted the Barcelona clash would be a tough one to navigate for the club, yet he remains confident the club can deliver once again.
“It’s a tough one — it’s a mountain to climb — but we’ve climbed a few mountains before,” Solskjaer said of the clash against Lionel Messi and co in April.
Solskjaer, who signed a three-year deal with United, went on to say: “What I’ve done as a player or a coach before doesn’t bother me because I’m always looking forward,” Ole says. “When I leave here, if I can look back and have had success and lifted trophies that’s what I’ll be more happy with. That’s the bigger achievement.”
Will Solskjaer be able to guide United into the Champions League semis at the expense of the great Barcelona? Tell us what you think in the comments section.