Why FaZe and others need their own Ole Gunnar Solskjær

We normally like to focus on esports around here, but you might have noticed a story in the English-speaking press today about a Norwegian man being given a job in sport. A chap called Ole Gunnar Solskjær was given the permanent job as manager of the second-best team in Manchester, and what used to be the best team in England by a distance.

That was a fun opportunity to have a little pop at Manchester United, but the example is actually a really interesting one, and could shine a light on the value of coaching in esports, too. Solskjær took over a team that had been driven into the ground by one of the accepted ‘best managers in the world’, Jose Mourinho, and was initially just a stop-gap with a very unimpressive resume of his own.

While United floundered under the formerly special one, and other highly paid, big-name bosses, Solskjær had failed to deliver success at Cardiff City FC, and ended up going back to manage Molde in Norway, presumably in an attempt to ‘find himself’ again after his first gig in top-flight English football went wrong. Certainly, it’s fair to say he’d never managed at that level before, or worked at first-team level with the level of player he found at Old Trafford.

For reference, he’d gone from Norwegian league talent to managing players such as World Cup-winner Paul Pogba, David De Gea (arguably the world’s best goalkeeper) and many other massive names, none of whom would have picked Solskjær as their first-choice of manager. While the Norwegian is respected as a player, he didn’t have the weight behind his name to command respect as a manager but, despite that, he successfully changed the atmosphere in camp and turned a failing team into one on the right trajectory.

Fresh faces

Now, there is a massive amount more to management than just getting people to play their best, but equally sometimes it really is as simple as changing the face the players see in the morning, and removing the baggage that has developed over a relationship. Pogba and Mourinho were practically enemies by the end of the Portuguese’s time in charge, despite both in theory being world-class performers, while the Frenchman has looked 10 times the player since Solskjær came in, and for his native France.

You could equally draw comparisons between the situation at FaZe, where star man NiKo apparently lost faith in karrigan’s leadership, despite both being high-level players and performers. Just as we saw at United, there was a clash of personalities that went beyond the sporting level, and the loss of faith meant that the performance in-game was suffering, and unlikely to ever change.


Of course, the one crucial difference in this situation is that karrigan was also a player, so NiKo could judge his ability with the rifle as much as he could his efficacy with a playbook, and Solskjær doesn’t have to deal with that. equally, with a serious lack of good in-game leaders in CSGO the decision to support the mutiny and give NiKo the reins is far bigger than sacking Mourinho, as top managers are pretty common, especially if your budget is as considerable as United’s.

For teams at FaZe’s level, it must be time to put more emphasis on the management position, as the likes of Astralis, Liquid and even MIBR have already realised that is the future of CSGO. For one in-game leader to set the culture within the team as well as find the tactical ethos required and call in game is too much for most men, and makes the leader too much of a target when things go wrong.

Still puzzled

We know in esports, as in sport, teams hate to cut talented players, but hoping NiKo and co can fix things on their own, when they could not under karrigan, is misguided optimism at best. Just as with Mourinho and United, you can have all the pieces in theory, but it won’t work out, while a far less likely boss can get the results that were so elusive.

There is no doubt good players are still the key of course, and the new United boss will be happy to have World Cup-winners in his fold, to call upon and even consult with. However, if you just leave it to the playing group and have no strong leadership role outside that, you’ll likely be let down more often than not, as we’ve seen at FaZe, Na’Vi, MIBR pre-zews and many many more.

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