Eyebrows were raised when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer turned up at Old Trafford a year ago but he has turned into something of a trailblazer.
Club legends are all the rage now, with Frank Lampard doing well at Chelsea — notwithstanding Saturday’s 1-0 home defeat by Bournemouth — and Freddie Ljungberg and Duncan Ferguson being asked to mind the fort at struggling Arsenal and Everton.
Football can be cyclical with its trends so I wouldn’t be surprised if Patrick Vieira was an attractive option at Arsenal now. It would be a good move, particularly if he can get another former Gooner, Mikel Arteta, to move from Manchester City to assist him.
Eyebrows were raised when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer turned up at Old Trafford a year ago
It looks inevitable Steven Gerrard will return to Liverpool one day as manager, even if it’s not in the foreseeable future, with Jurgen Klopp at the helm and his own new contract at Rangers.
Each club have their own circumstances but you can see why owners like to bring back a famous face — to get the fans on board.
United were in a bad spell when they sacked Jose Mourinho and so were Arsenal and Everton earlier this season. Chelsea’s situation was slightly different — their problems were a transfer ban — and Frank and Jody Morris knew the young kids coming through.
But no matter what short-term lift a legend can bring, they need ability to sustain any success. You have to say Ole and Frank have done that at their clubs. They got respect when they walked through the door but they’ve done a lot more than that.
Ole didn’t inherit the best squad United have ever known and it’s entirely fair the board gave him some transfer windows to show what he can do. He’s not let anyone down so far.
The game where I realised he was a proper tactical thinker, and not just the fellow who scored a Champions League winner, was the match against Liverpool earlier this season.
I went to the Old Trafford game expecting an away win because they’d beaten everyone else. But Solskjaer set up United brilliantly, with split strikers and Andreas Pereira as a No 10 running off Fabinho. They caused Liverpool problems and Klopp was probably pleased to escape with a draw.
Tactics are important at the top end of the game where every player on the pitch is capable individually and Solskjaer has shown plenty over 12