Manchester United fan view: ‘Don’t blame Ole, the system is a joke’

“They’ll be fine. I’ll watch them and support them,” stuttered Ole Gunnar Solskjær, fighting back the tears in his emotional farewell interview on Sunday – and as a Manchester United fan it was hard not to feel the same sadness.

Yes, the team may be eighth in the Premier League having recently been torn apart by a Watford side fighting relegation, but that should not be the only way Solskjær’s tenure is remembered.

Let’s not forget that under Ole there’s been some memorable wins, record‑breaking away runs and a sense of a return to the United ethos in giving youth a chance, an idea to which José Mourinho, despite his promises, often only paid lip service.

For much of Ole’s reign, pride was restored, whether it was thanks to some desperately needed Manchester derby wins, a clutch of free-scoring games, or brief dalliances with the summit of the Premier League.

Ultimately, though, much like Bayern Munich in those final few minutes in the Nou Camp in 1999, Solskjær’s successes seemed to be undermined by falling apart at the final hurdle, or more often the semi-final one.

United’s failure to lift the Europa League in Gdansk may be one that is looked back upon with almost the same level of regret as either of United’s Champions League final defeats to Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona.

Missing out on Europe’s biggest prize undoubtedly hurt more, but they weren’t necessary in cementing Sir Alex Ferguson’s legacy. Lifting the Europa League may just have given Ole the belief, along with the breathing room, he needed to make this season the success it once promised to be.

The arrivals of Jadon Sancho, Raphaël Varane and some goat called Ronnie moved the goalposts to a new “XG” as the kids say, one where it was no longer acceptable just to finish in the top four, but to truly challenge for the title.

Ole the player is a legend and will always remain so, Solskjær the manager was one who flattered but ultimately deceived as he was unable to build on the euphoria of nights like Paris or long unbeaten away runs to add to the Old Trafford trophy cabinet.

Regardless of his shortcomings as a coach, there’s little doubt that Ole, like his predecessors, was massively undermined by a lack of structure at the club, a total absence of a plan by those in charge and the carelessness of the owners.

United has been a money‑making machine for the Glazer family ever since they took over but what’s been almost equally infuriating as the money the owners have bled from the club, is the funds squandered on transfers due to a lack of foresight.

David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, Mourinho and now Solskjær all made signings they felt would enable United to win the title and all failed. Other than Ole, although it’s likely to ensue, they have all seen their successors go on to replace expensive recruits with ones of their own.

This is no way to run a football club, let alone one that claims to be the biggest in the world and the manager’s failures have been a symptom rather than a cause of United’s problems.

No matter which avenue the Old Trafford hierarchy have gone down when it comes to managerial appointments, like a blindfolded bus driver they’ve ended up careering into a brick wall, with us passengers in the back watching in horror.

Moyes was the reliable Premier League stalwart, Van Gaal the venerable statesman, Mourinho the closest you’d get to a guaranteed league title, yet ultimately they all failed, as did Ole. Why?

Did they all suddenly stop being able to win football matches on a regular basis? Did they lose the ability to coach a team or spot a weakness in an opponent? No, the only common denominator is they had to work under a flawed system that has proven for the past eight years to be completely broken. A system where bankers like Ed Woodward are given the authority to make monumental decisions based on zero footballing knowledge. It’s a joke – and it isn’t funny any more.

Someone with actual football experience needs to be involved above the manager’s level. Darren Fletcher and, to a lesser degree [football director] John Murtough, may be a step in the right direction but it’s hard not to be cynical about the amount of influence they’ll have. What many of us would give for an Edwin van der Sar to take over from Woodward.

Almost a billion pounds has been wasted on transfers and while United fans rightly point the finger at too much of the club’s money heading into the Glazers’ bank accounts rather than the transfer market, we cannot ignore the catalogue of signings who have failed at the club.

Can Erik ten Hag, Mauricio Pochettino or Brendan Rodgers, fix United under this system? Or maybe we’d be better off writing a letter to Santa Claus to see if he can deliver a title?

Will United ever get back to winning titles and Champions Leagues? Under the current regime I seriously doubt it, but in the words of Ole when asked if he was always going to be welcome at Old Trafford: “I hope so.”