Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Never has a topic polarised Cardiff and Manchester United fans so much (not that we had much in common with them anyway!).
Cardiff fans, including myself, remain adamant that the Norwegian was the catalyst for the club’s fall to the bottom of the Championship.
Solskjaer, it seems, was never fully committed to life in Cardiff, with his recent comments testament that he only ever saw Cardiff as a stepping stone to United.
“I went to Cardiff because I thought there was potential for me to do well with them and then impress everyone at Manchester United because that has always been my drive. I wanted to come here to United. But it didn’t work out and I went back to Molde.”
Solskjaer, of course, replaced Malky Mackay as Cardiff manager in January 2014 with the club in 17th in the Premier League. The circumstances were tough for the Norwegian, with unrest between the Cardiff fans and the club itself.
Mackay, a popular figure among Cardiff fans, was sacked by owner Vincent Tan with the side performing well, much to the dismay of Cardiff fans. It transpires, of course, that Mackay was found to be acting unprofessionally in his role as manager.
Despite the unrest, Solskjaer inherited a side in a position to maintain their Premier League status. Positioned outside of the relegation zone, Cardiff had some talented players in their squad, including Gary Medel, Steven Caulker and David Marshall.
The incoming Solskjaer joined Cardiff with a big reputation. A phenomenal player for United, the Norwegian had been earning his stripes in his homeland with Molde.
Having been linked to a number of Premier League jobs, it seemed as though Cardiff had made an astute appointment.
As it transpired, though, playing talent does not equal managerial prowess.
The 18 months Cardiff fans endured Solskjaer’s management has to be one of the most dire times in the club’s history. Of course, the Bluebirds have been in lower divisions, but never – in my lifetime at least – has a Cardiff side look so bereft of ideas.
Solskjaer didn’t know his best side and often chopped and changed for each match. It meant that Cardiff failed to find any consistency or rhythm.
There was even talk that players were lining up one way in training, and then a completely different way when it came to the games.
The same could be said for Solskjaer’s tactical systems – or lack of them! His set-up seemed erratic and, in truth, he didn’t know how to set Cardiff up, in the Premier League and in the Championship.
And then came Solskjaer’s recruitment. A strategy best described as ‘jobs for the boys’.
While manager of Cardiff, and given backing by Vincent Tan to reinforce the squad, Solskjaer could do little more than turn to players he’d worked with at United.
Fabio, Magnus Wolf Eikrem, Wilf Zaha and Mats Moller Daehli all joined the club. Only Fabio could be described as anything other than a nightmare.
The Norwegian also had a track record at Cardiff of signing players that shared the same agent as him, rather than what Cardiff actually needed.
In the Premier League, Solskjaer brought in seven players during the January transfer window, before totally reinventing the squad after relegation to the Championship.
Vincent Tan had kept the faith and backed Ole in the transfer window, bringing in 12 new players. Solskjaer’s business almost bankrupt the club and following managers spent a number of years having to cut costs to clean up his mess.
The hope was for Cardiff to bounce straight back up, but the side were in disarray. Solskjaer’s tactically ineptness continued and Cardiff, one of the favourites to go up, sat 17th in the Championship before he was relieved of his duties.
For many a Cardiff fan, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s time as manager of the club was one of the most frustrating spells in the club’s history – let alone this decade.
Solskjaer inherited a Cardiff side on a high and off-roaded the club to near oblivion.
As a football fan you can handle disappointing results. It’s part and parcel of the game. What you can’t handle is a lack of commitment to the cause and, in truth, that’s how it always felt with Solskjaer.
Always labeled a nice guy – although there is an apparent feeling within the club that it’s all an act – Solskjaer lacked the fire or passion to succeed as Cardiff manager.
His recent comments are disrespectful and show his lack of interest in the Cardiff job. He had his eyes set on the top job at United and Cardiff were simply a stepping stone.
The comments angered many Cardiff fans – including myself. Solskjaer’s naivety means he is a perfect match for United fans, who, like their manager it seems, claim that Cardiff were a lost cause.
However, those in South Wales, who endured Solskjaer’s ineptness, know the truth. The friendly smile of the Baby-faced Assassin is a stark reminder of the most frustrating time of the decade for the Bluebirds.