Week 280 (23 February - 1 March 2019)
Manchester United’s 3-1 win against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park this week was the Reds’ eighth successive away victory, thereby breaking the record of seven successive away wins previously held by Sir Alex Ferguson in 1993 and 2002.
When Ole Gunnar Solskjaer replaced Jose Mourinho to become United’s caretaker manager late last year, there was a clear change in approach with an emphasis on a return to the fabled “United Way”. But no-one could have predicted such a sharp and positive reversal in the club’s fortunes.
Off the pitch, the “Ole Effect” immediately led to a record surge on the club’s social media channels, with 55 million Facebook, Instagram and Twitter engagements between 18 and 31 December 2018, more than any other club in the world. On the pitch, performances have improved so much that the Norwegian caretaker boss has continued to write himself into the Manchester United history books.
Through his positive and upbeat communication during press conferences, his coaching style and tactics, he has managed to change the way the players now take to the pitch. And it shows. Not only was this the Red Devils’ eighth successive win, but it was also their 14th domestic match unbeaten under Solskjaer.
Even on his birthday this week, Solskjaer did things differently, with a smile, presenting a pair of new @officialMauiJim sunglasses to Guardian correspondent @JamieJackson__, known for his taste in eyewear.
The Old Trafford boss, together with assistant Mike Phelan and other Old Trafford stalwarts, have guided the team from seventh to be current favourites for an all-important top four spot in only a matter of weeks.
When he first came back to the club, Solskjaer expressed his excitement on his return. “You know as a player I gave everything I had and now walking out, leading this team and being a part of this team, that’s what I am. I’m a part of a huge team. We are playing for our supporters, playing for pride, playing for the club, its history, but to be honest it is going to be very, very special I have to say.
“I’m proud of my career as a player, I feel like I’m a part of this club, I know this club and I understand this club but of course being in the gaffer’s seat is special.”
Another thing Solskjaer is proud of is the Red Army’s: “Best fans in the world. Obviously, I've got my history at the club and to see that banner ('20 Legend') is special. I just hope, in the next five months, I'll do a good enough job for them to keep saying my name when someone else gets in there.”
Before Solskjaer’s arrival, United were under constant fire from the media, citing broken relationships between certain players and the manager. But with Solskjaer at the wheel, the press coverage has become predominantly positive, adding to the feel-good factor around Old Trafford and the AON Training Complex.
For Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s impressive communication and management style, he is JTA Communicator of the Week.
Image: @ManUtd Twitter