Today is a solemn day, a day where I struggle to find any pleasure.
Today is the day that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer leaves Manchester United Football Club.
It’s an outcome that has grown ever more inevitable as the matchdays of the 2021-22 season ticked on, however, it was an outcome I don’t think — or at least I hope — no one wanted to happen.
And it’s been heartbreaking to see Ole say goodbye to the club knowing how much he loves this club and how hard he surely worked to succeed.
I feel compelled to write this because I wish to personally thank Ole.
For those familiar with my other more personal writing for The Busby Babe, I’m a newer Manchester United fan. My first days supporting the club were David Moyes’ last and Louis van Gaal’s first. I’ve spent my days only experiencing the realities of the post-Ferguson Manchester United.
On reflection, I don’t really feel anything towards the van Gaal era. I feel much less towards the José Mourinho era. And that’s why today feels so solemn because of how important Ole has become to me. For better or for worse — and as we gain further perspective on this nostalgic era perhaps it was for the worst — Ole’s appointment as caretaker boss in 2018 gave me a connection to the United I never experienced.
“This is a moment I’ve been anticipating since I started watching in college. I’ve only seen the Fergie era on Youtube and documentaries. I’m finally living it and the emotions I’m feeling are unmatched. I love this club and I will forever love Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.”
This was my tweet that was read aloud on The 2 Robbies Podcast after the 3-1 Miracle in Paris. As long as I live, I’ll never forget the excitement that radiated from my body as Marcus Rashford buried that penalty and I sprinted around my house yelling, screaming, and even crying.
They had done it. They had pulled off the miraculous comeback — in the Champions League no less. Like so many who saw Ole deliver a miracle in 1999, I saw Ole help deliver a miracle 20 years later.
Of course, that was a quarterfinal match and not one that came with a trophy; an outcome that has come to define Ole’s tenure. But, nonetheless, I refuse to discount the effect that had on me and the supporters at large. And I’m not going to lengthen this piece to qualify with the deficiencies and the failures of Ole’s reign. I’m the vibes guy on The Busby Babe podcast after all. I’ll let my fellow writers dive into the tactics.
Ultimately, Ole conducted himself professionally and with the club and his players, not his own professional ambitions, in the front of his mind. Even in the moments when the things he did failed, I truly believe everything he did was for the betterment of Manchester United and the players, and, in turn, for you, me, us.
As the think pieces will undoubtedly be furiously written in the coming weeks about the failures of Ole’s last months, I hope we can all reflect on the moments when Ole brought us joy, brought us pride, and made us believe.
Today is a solemn day. I hope tomorrow is better. I hope United can move on to the next era successfully and not undo the progress that Ole did make during his tenure.
And my greatest hope is that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is able to look back on his time as the manager of Manchester United Football Club — his dream job — and see the success because the greatest failure of this era would be if the supporters of this football club made him feel shame instead of pride for trying his best to rebuild United.
Thank you, Ole, for everything you have done. Godspeed 20legend.