By Ian Ladyman for the Daily Mail
Published: 22:30 GMT, 11 February 2019 | Updated: 23:10 GMT, 11 February 2019
For supporters of Manchester United the best thing about the Champions League draw — made in those dark, closing days of Jose Mourinho's management — was that it would take them on a trip to Paris. The football itself promised to be unmemorable.
That draw was made on December 17 and was watched by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on the sofa at home in Norway with his son Noah.
On Monday, Solskjaer sat behind a table at Old Trafford as United's manager and spoke about the prospects of beating the French champions in this week's last 16 first leg. Nobody laughed.
Former striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has made a fine start as Manchester United's interim boss
Of all the things that have happened in United's great history, not many have been as revelatory as Solskjaer's seven-and-a-half weeks in charge.
The Norwegian has not only shown himself to be a proficient motivator and organiser of footballers but has also shone a light on just how destructive a force Mourinho had become at the club.
United remain a team with holes in it. On Tuesday, Paris Saint-Germain will try to pick at some of those holes. But Solskjaer holds a wand in his hand right now and it promises to take United to places they could not have dreamed of as recently as mid-December.
Players who under-performed under Mourinho are now playing above themselves under his replacement and it is this sought-after sense of belief and purpose that United will take into this tie as their greatest weapon.
Solskjaer continues to duck and weave in the face of questions about his chances of landing the job in the long-term. Of course he does. The life of the caretaker — or interim as they call them these days — comes with no pressure attached. It's a free hit.
Only when you get the gig full-time at a club like United do the walls start to close in and as such the former United striker will hope to continue to ride a wave of bravado and freedom when PSG face his team for Tuesday's game in Manchester.
On Tuesday night, Solskjaer's United side will host PSG in the Champions League last 16
Man United vs French opposition:
PSG's win percentage with Neymar and Cavani: 81%
Without Neymar and Cavani: 50%
1. Manchester United have won only one of their last nine Champions League knockout games. The only victory being their 3-0 win against Olympiacos in