Thursday 19 September 2019

Alex Ferguson takes up more active role with Man United as Ed Woodward turns to club legend for help

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer here listening to words of advice from former Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson on the training ground in 2007 – he’s also likely to take his counsel in the coming months. Photo: Phil Noble/Reuters
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer here listening to words of advice from former Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson on the training ground in 2007 – he’s also likely to take his counsel in the coming months. Photo: Phil Noble/Reuters

Colin Young

Alex Ferguson has taken a more active role at Manchester United since Jose Mourinho's exit - playing a key part in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's appointment.

The club have turned to their most successful former manager in a bid to restore the glory days at Old Trafford following a series of disastrous appointments since he retired five years ago.

Chief executive Ed Woodward turned to the Glaswegian after the sacking of Mourinho last week in a bid to bring stability to the club.

Ferguson convinced the board to bring in his former striker - and Champions League winner - Solskjaer, who started his coaching career at Old Trafford following his retirement in 2007.

Ferguson also paved the way for the return of Mike Phelan (right), his one-time assistant and a popular member of the coaching staff until his exit under David Moyes.

Phelan has had unconvincing spells as manager of Norwich City and Hull City since the one-cap England international left Old Trafford.

Assistant coach Mike Phelan. Photo: Rebecca Naden/Reuters
Assistant coach Mike Phelan. Photo: Rebecca Naden/Reuters

The 56-year-old has covered several media roles and was appointed sporting director of Australian A-League side Central Coast Mariners before returning to the United coaching staff last week.

He has said he still hopes to combine the two jobs.

The former United midfielder, who was Ferguson's No 2 for seven years, has brought some much-needed experience and stability to Solskjaer's coaching team, and the pair want to be considered for the roles permanently.

Solskjaer is in pole position after beginning his interim reign with a 5-1 thrashing of Cardiff City on Saturday and will have the backing of Ferguson, who will have a major say in the appointment of Mourinho's full-time successor.

The Scot, who turns 77 next week, has made a rapid recovery from a brain haemorrhage suffered in May.

He is expected to have a bigger influence in team matters thanks to his close relationship with Solskjaer and Phelan, and will continue to pull strings behind the scenes.

Solskjaer coached the United reserves team before returning to Norway in 2011 to coach his former club Molde, leading them to their first two Norwegian League titles in his first two seasons.

He returned to the UK to manage Cardiff but managed just five wins in 25 league games as the Welsh club were relegated from the top flight.

Solskjaer had been back at Molde since 2015 and recently signed a new deal, before United and Ferguson came calling.

After putting smiles back on United faces with the swashbuckling display in Cardiff, the fans will be hoping it's a case of starting as he means to continue.

Irish Independent

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