Saturday 21 April 2018

Old boy Solskjaer sticks to United code of omerta and refuses to speculate on new regime

Cardiff City manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer celebrates after the English FA Cup fourth round football match between Bolton Wanderers and Cardiff City at the Reebok Stadium in Bolton
Cardiff City manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer celebrates after the English FA Cup fourth round football match between Bolton Wanderers and Cardiff City at the Reebok Stadium in Bolton

Mark Ogden

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may have been wearing Cardiff City's red dragon on his chest, but the old loyalties to Manchester United resurfaced as he faced down a question about David Moyes' battle to emerge from Alex Ferguson's shadow at his former club.

"I just give up on these questions," Solskjaer said. "I think you are being absolutely ridiculous. I've spoken to David quite a few times since I've come over here and we get along well. He came into the job looking forward to it, so I'm not going to sit and talk about that. He works for Man United and I work for Cardiff."

Discussing his return to Old Trafford, it was a rare flash of annoyance from the Norwegian as he contemplated renewing acquaintance with United.

But while he refused to dissect United's adjustment to life after Ferguson, Solskjaer is aware that he will find himself in an unusual situation when he takes his seat in the visitors' dugout tonight .

For all of the backing Moyes receives from the United supporters, he reception afforded to Solskjaer when he returns as Cardiff manager this evening is likely to match that bestowed on David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo when they trod the Old Trafford turf for the first time in opposing colours.

Eleven years in a United shirt and a winning goal in a Champions League final have secured Solskjaer's presence in the club's hall of fame but, for the 40-year-old, tonight is about business first and nostalgia second.

"No, I'm not too emotional," Solskjaer said. "I think it caught me after my testimonial (in 2008), but I will be all right on Tuesday.

"Roy Keane has been back, Bryan Robson has been back. There have been loads of ex-players who have gone back there and had a good reception, before and after the game, but during the 90 minutes, the fans are United supporters.

"I am really looking forward to it because it's a great place to go and play football. But if we win, it will just mean three points.

"Managing against United, up to now, has been sort of an unrealistic dream, but (Ferguson) always instilled into us 'dream big and unrealistic' because you never know what might happen.

"For me to play at United was never in my wildest dreams, so now I'm there as a manager, it just seems to come by coincidence."

A month into his role in the Welsh capital, following three years in charge of Molde, Solskjaer takes his team to Old Trafford with Cardiff bottom of the Premier League and United on a run of four defeats in six games.

Solskjaer insists United's search for form will make it more difficult for Cardiff to emerge with a victory.

"Knowing the character of the players there, you know they are bound to want to bounce back after a defeat," Solskjaer said.

Having not visited Old Trafford "since they unveiled the gaffer's (Ferguson) statue" in November 2012, Solskjaer insists tonight is unlikely to top his most memorable moment at the stadium, which came in October 2006.

"It was a 2-0 win against Newcastle after my injuries," he said. "I was credited with both goals, even though one was a rebound from a Ronaldo shot and the other when Vida (Nemanja Vidic) shot and it hit my shinpad and went in.

"Walking off the pitch, I saw my son, Noah, clench his fists when he saw me. He was 6½ at the time and that was the moment I thought 'he will remember dad as a Man United player'. I got injured when he was 3½, so he would never remember me playing before that. That was my one and only motivating factor when I was injured – to make sure he would see me play.

"My dad was a wrestler, I keep hearing about how great he was, but I only see these cuttings in a newspaper. I never saw him in action, so I have no memory of that, but Noah will always remember his dad playing for Man United and that was everything for me."

So will Noah see dad's managerial debut at Old Trafford? "No," he said. "He's back at home. He has school in the morning." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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