Amid a frenetic and frustrated transfer window for Manchester United, former club favourite Rafael has spoken out in defense of head coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Critics have been outspoken in their belief that Solskjaer has not been able to secure transfers of any significance to raise the club to the level of a serious title challenger.
The Norwegian manager’s cautious approach this season comes after Manchester United secured their second-highest finish last season since the departure of Alex Ferguson. United’s third place Premier League finish earned them a ticket to the Champions League, and at present many consider the club’s main objective to be closing the gap between Liverpool and Manchester City rather than adding titles to the mantle.
Rafael’s continued support of Solskjaer comes with the frustration of a lukewarm season opening, which began with a home loss to Crystal Palace and a win over Brighton. With transfer targets missed, most notably Borussia Dortmund’s Jordan Sancho, fans are not satisfied with the addition of Ajax’s Donny van de Beek at £35m. Because United has experienced a trophy drought supporters demand change, and despite an attack-centered philosophy on the pitch the blame is going to Solskjaer for this year’s conservative approach.
The former defender claims Solskjaer sees that spending on big names does not guarantee success, that long-term rewards come from patience and strategy refinement. Therefore success should be forecasted in the long-term rather than the present season, and the odds among bookmakers presently show a title this year is a long-shot.
But the transfer window has not yet closed, and rumours still abound. With Sancho out of the picture, negotiations with Barcelona’s seventeen year old Fati are reported to have included figures as high as £136m (though Fati’s new £363m release clause silenced this. Before window’s end it is suggested Solskjaer may scoop up Alex Telles of Porto, but fans will believe it when they see it.