The colossal fall of Manchester United in the wake departing club legend Sir Alex Ferguson was unparalleled, unpredictable, unprecedented, and shocking.
First fans were faced with David Moyes, the so-called ‘Chosen One’: a successful manager in his own right, thanks to his heroics at Everton, but no way near the calibre required to pull United through the immediate post-Ferguson unrest.
Then there was Louis van Gaal, a Champions League winner, and the self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ Jose Mourinho: one of the most decorated coaches of all time.
But what were they missing?
Easy: not one understood what made Manchester United so great; their immense history of tragedy and success; the culture of nurturing their own, and the uncompromising entertainment; a global profile that reaches out to the far corners of the world.
United lost its identity in the midst of the manager merry-go-round madness. It became a servant, kneeling to the pressures of the individuals just passing through.
Indeed, as successful as he may have been, Jose Mourinho was one of the main culprits. And it was this negativity and stubbornness that permeated pure negativity throughout the club. The slandering of players, the conservative style of football, the transfer activity – it was all wrong.
Conversely, this is why Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been so good; he understands the Manchester United, he has enjoyed success and commiserated in defeat, he has lived it all.
More importantly, Solskjaer knows he is a cog in the machine; nothing more, nothing less; an essential part of its immediate history, but by no means the end of it. And it shows his style and approach.
Manchester United fans and neutrals alike can now enjoy watching the likes of Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial strut their stuff without fear of being monumentally bored by conservative tactics.
There is a feeling that the players are just sent and told to enjoy themselves, like kids on a playground. And it shows.
There is a legitimate sense of competition now; that Manchester United deserve to be where they are through merit and not boring, fail safe tactics.
The game against Paris Saint Germain, for example. United had no right to go there and do that. No one has ever overturned a two-goal deficit in that fashion, and Solskjaer’s men did it missing key players, ending the match with three teenagers on the pitch.
It is football in its purest form. And that is why people have returned.
Manchester United fans, do you think your club is finally back? Join the discussion by commenting below…