Ole at the Wheel – Meme Explained

Soccer fans who’ve followed the sport keenly during the time in which Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was in charge of England’s biggest teams – Manchester United – will know all about the famous “Ole at the wheel” phrase.

The Norwegian coach initially took over the managerial reigns at the club on an interim (i.e. temporary) basis following the shock sacking of Jose Mourinho.

Results immediately improved in the aftermath of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s appointment, with Manchester United registering six wins in a row from the time he was awarded the job.

Supporting fans really began to rally behind the manager especially because of his existing affiliations with the team.

For those of you who aren’t clued up on this, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was the player who won the UEFA Champions League trophy for Manchester United back in 1999.

He scored what was to be the winning goal in a fiercely contested final with eventual runners-up Bayern Munich.

Anyway, let’s get back to the topic at hand.

Ole at the wheel was a phrase coined by fans of Manchester United to depict the Norwegian – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – steering the club to eventual glory. Supporters were very optimistic at the time of his appointment to coach the team, following a strong start to his managerial stint with six successive wins on the bounce.

Let’s dig into this with some more context.


What does Ole at the wheel mean?

Ole at the wheel is a simple and catchy phrase meant to show unwavering support for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who was manager of Manchester United.

Fans are able to really get behind a manager when that person has a proud playing history with the club in question.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was already considered a Manchester United legend from his playing days, as the man scored one of the club’s most important goals when he nicked a winner in the final minutes of a UEFA Champions League final in 1999.

The “Ole” part of the phrase simply takes a small part of his name and in conjunction with the words “at the wheel”, it shows strong sentiment towards his prospects of steering the club as a whole to sporting success.

ole at the wheel - metaphorical meaning

At the time, Manchester United fans were more than satisfied with the performance of the coach when he joined on an interim basis, as there was an immediate uptick in results.

In fact, one of the most memorable moments of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s time in charge that epitomized him “being at the wheel” so to speak, was when Manchester United launched a sensational comeback against Paris Saint Germain in the UEFA Champions League.

These were the lineups for both sides on that day:

ole at the wheel - man utd lineup for comeback against paris saint germain

Clearly, Manshester United had no right winning this fixture based on the quality of the two squads on paper.

But “Ole’s magic” was active and working in full capacity!

The win was such a magnificent achievement that even former player Rio Ferdinand – who is now a television pundit – got carried away following Manchester United’s win.

Here he is praising Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s ability as a manager:


Is there an Ole at the wheel song?

Soccer fans are really creative when it comes to the ways in which they show support for their favorite team.

Manchester United fans are no different, as they created a brilliant chant that characterized Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s presence at the metaphorical steering wheel.

Here are the lyrics to that tune:

Ole’s at the wheel,

Tell me how does it feel,

We’ve got Sanchez, Paul Pogba and Fred,

Marcus Rashford, a Manc born and bred,

Duh du, du du du du du!

Duh du, du du du du du!

The words above are sung to the tune of “Waterfall”, a song made by the iconic Manchester band The Stone Roses.


When did “Ole’s at the wheel” become a meme?

The term’s popularity grew on social media especially when Solskjaer guided Manchester United to two top-three finishes in the English Premier League – coming third in the 2019/2020 season and runners up behind Manchester City in the following campaign.

However, the phrase also gained acclaim with opposition fans when results during Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s reign took a sharp and prolonged turn for the worse.

Liverpool thumped Manchester United by five goals at Old Trafford when the two sides met in a Premier League fixture that took place in October 2021.

The away fans were happy to mock Solskjaer by singing their own version of “Ole’s at the wheel”.

Here’s what that sounded like:

Perception around the club was so dim around the time Liverpool won at Old Trafford that opposing fans were all over social media claiming “Ole’s at the wheel”, in the hope that he would manage to keep his job in charge of Manchester United.

Can you just imagine a situation like that?

Results and the general mood around the team was so poor that you had fans of other teams like Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City gesturing to the higher ups at Manchester United to keep the manager who was performing so badly towards the end of his tenure.


Ole’s at the wheel – final thoughts

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer evidently did his best to improve Manchester United’s sporting fortunes.

The Norwegian was well supported by his own fanbase when results were good, and by fans of other teams when Manchester United went through a major loss of form.

All in all, it looks as though Manchester United have become a laughing stock of a team.

They’re a far cry from their dominant state when Sir Alex Ferguson was in managerial charge, with some of the current playing contingent in the limelight for the wrong reasons.

Samuel Waihenya
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