‘Don’t be fooled by his young face’ – former team-mates back Solskjaer
The Norwegian endured a tough time in charge of Cardiff, though.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has received the backing of several of his treble-winning team-mates as he prepares to take caretaker charge of Manchester United until the end of the season.
The former striker will effectively be ‘loaned’ to United from his position as boss of Norwegian side Molde to see out the season at Old Trafford following Jose Mourinho’s sacking on Tuesday.
Solskjaer won six Premier League titles, two FA Cups and the Champions League as a player with United and has guided Molde to two Norwegian titles as a boss, and many in the game expect him to do well this season, despite disappointment in his previous taste of the English game as a manager with Cardiff.
Jaap Stam, who played alongside Solskjaer in United’s treble-winning team of 1999, told Sky Sports News: “He knows the culture of the club, the fans like him. Ole is the type of manager, as far as I know, who wants to play attacking football, who wants to go forward.
“I think his personality is good. Every player needs to have an arm around the shoulder and needs to hear sometimes, ‘You’re a great player,’ or ‘You’re needed to do well for the club’, and Ole as far as I know is very good at that.”
But if Solskjaer has a nice-guy image, another former Old Trafford team-mate said there was more to him than that.
David Beckham has wished former team-mate Ole Gunnar Solskjaer luck as Manchester United’s caretaker manager pic.twitter.com/5tKQR5O0AV— Simon Peach (@SimonPeach) December 19, 2018
“I think he’s got good experience,” Henning Berg added. “And he’s got people with him in Mike Phelan and Michael Carrick who can help him and have experience as well.
“Ole is a very clever man. Don’t be fooled by his young face. He’s got steel in his eyes as well and he will be able to handle his players in his way. It will be a different approach with Solskjaer.
“His mentality and his way of doing things, I think he might get a lot of energy and get the players playing again for the club to their best level.”
Former United greats David Beckham and Gary Neville have given their backing to Solskjaer on social media, as has his former Norway team-mate John Arne Riise and even his country’s prime minister Erna Solberg, who appeared to accidentally leak the news of his appointment on Tuesday evening.
Solskjær new manager for Man U. That’s just insane!! Being a Norwegian and having the pleasure of playing with and against him, I am so proud of him! It’s a great opportunity for him as a manager. This shows everything is possible with hard work! I wish him all the best🔝⚽️— John Arne Riise (@JARiiseOfficial) December 19, 2018
The only question marks around his appointment come from his time at Cardiff in 2014, when he was unable to save them from relegation and was then sacked after a poor start to the season in the Championship.
But Steven Caulker, who played for Solskjaer at Cardiff, said many elements were beyond his control.
“Ole came into a bit of a crisis I think it’s fair to say,” he told Sky Sports News. “(Malky) Mackay had just been sacked and the club was in a bit of disarray.
“Ole came in to a difficult job, but he sat us all down and told us he wanted to play attractive football. He had the players to do that.
“He worked tirelessly on and off the pitch to save the club, but unfortunately it wasn’t to be that year…
FINALLY CONFIRMED! Great day for Norwegian football. Good luck keeping control of the Red Devils, @olegs26_ole— Erna Solberg (@erna_solberg) December 19, 2018
“It was a difficult year, there was a lot going on at the club and it would have been difficult for anyone to manage.”
And former Everton and Norway goalkeeper Thomas Myhre said he would have learned from that experience.
“I understand about the thing in Cardiff, but he did a few things there that turned out to be mistakes,” he said.
“He brought in three Norwegians who didn’t really take to the level, he swapped around the squad a lot because he was used to that at Molde and used to that at United, but with a squad that needed confidence it was probably not the right thing to do.
“But I think he’s experienced a lot from doing that.”